Molds are part of the natural environment. Outdoors, molds play a part in nature by breaking down dead organic matter such as fallen leaves and dead trees, but indoors, mold growth should be avoided. Molds reproduce by means of tiny spores; the spores are invisible to the naked eye and continually float through outdoor and indoor air. Mold may begin growing indoors when mold spores land on a food source that is wet or damp. There are many types of mold, most grow at different rates but none of them will grow without moisture and food. In general, mold needs an environment that is dark, moist, good food source and little or no air movement. Take away any of those ingredients and mold growth stops.
Magnified Mold Spores
Molds can gradually destroy the things they grow on. You can prevent damage to your home and furnishings, save money and avoid potential health problems by controlling moisture and eliminating mold growth.
There is no practical way to eliminate all mold and mold spores in the indoor environment, however, moisture control is key to mold control.
If you discover a damp area it is important to dry the water damaged areas and items within 24-48 hours to prevent mold growth. If mold is a problem in your home, clean up the mold and get rid of the excess water or moisture. Fix leaky plumbing or other sources of water. Wash mold off hard surfaces with detergent and water, and dry completely. Absorbent materials (such as ceiling tiles, plywood or particle board & carpet) that become moldy may have to be replaced.
If a building smells musty you may have hidden mold. Though you may not see the odor source; further investigation must take place if you suspect there has been water damage and residents are reporting health problems. Mold may be hidden in places such as the back side of dry wall, wallpaper, or paneling, the top side of ceiling tiles, the underside of carpets and pads, etc. Other possible locations of hidden mold include areas inside walls around pipes (with leaking or condensing pipes), the surface of walls behind furniture (where condensation forms), inside ductwork, and in roof materials above ceiling tiles (due to roof leaks or insufficient insulation).
Extreme caution must be taken when dealing with any kind of mold contamination. Removal of mold contaminated materials can lead to a massive release of spores especially if there is mold growing on the underside of the paper. If you believe that you may have a hidden or extensive mold problem, consider hiring an experienced professional.
Molds have the potential to cause health problems. Molds produce mycotoxins which are potentially toxic substances that produce allergic responses in some people. These responses are triggered when people inhale or touch mold or mold spores. Some common allergic responses include hay fever-type symptoms, such as sneezing, runny nose, red eyes, and skin rash (dermatitis). Extreme reactions to mold may be sustained by those who suffer from asthma, weakened immune systems or from being over exposed to mycotoxins. Young children and the elderly are most susceptible to negative health effects of exposure to mold. Remember, even dead mold may cause allergic reactions in some people, so it is not enough to simply kill the mold, it must also be removed.
In summary, the key to mold control is moisture control. If mold is a problem in your home, you should clean up the mold promptly and fix the water problem. It is important to dry water-damaged areas and items within 24-48 hours to prevent mold growth. Keep those most likely to be effected by mold away from the contaminated area until the mold is removed from the surfaces as well as the air.