Facts About Mold

November 18, 2010
FACT: Mold's function in nature is to break down and decompose dead organic material. This leads to the odor associated with mold. FACT: Mold is always in the air around us naturally both inside and out, the only way to control indoor mold growth is to control the indoor moisture. FACT: Mold spores are extremely tiny and float through the air. They can maintain their viability to reproduce in many environments until they land on a appropriate surface. FACT: If the air is sufficiently humid over a sustained period many molds can get their moisture requirements to grow from the air. This makes basements and attics especially susceptible. FACT: If mold is a problem in your home you must clean up the mold and eliminate sources of moisture, without sufficient moisture the mold cannot grow. FACT: Mold grows well on organic substances, especially those containing cellulose such as wood and paper. They grow more rapidly on processed cellulose items such as paper than on wood in its natural state. FACT: There are molds that can grow on wood, paper, carpet, fabric, and foods. FACT: Mold growths can be many colors such as: black, green, red, pink, orange, yellow, etc. depending on the type, substance they are growing on (digesting) and moisture level. FACT: Water problems or leaks can cause mold growth, fix as quickly as possible. FACT: Potential health effects and symptoms associated with mold exposure include allergic reactions, asthma, respiratory complaints, and more. FACT: Reduce indoor humidity (to 30-60%) to decrease mold growth by: venting bathrooms, dryers, and other moisture-generating sources to the outside; using air conditioners and de-humidifiers; increasing ventilation; and using exhaust fans whenever cooking, dishwashing, and cleaning. FACT: Small patches of mold (less than 1 square foot) can be cleaned off of surfaces with water and detergent. Make sure to dry completely. FACT: Mold growth can be prevented in some areas by preventing condensation on cold surfaces by adding insulation. (For example windows, piping, exterior walls, roof, or floors). FACT: In areas where there is a constant moisture problem one way to prevent mold buildup is to avoid installing carpeting (For example by drinking fountains, by sinks, or on concrete floors with leaks or frequent condensation as often happens in basements). FACT: Although molds cannot grow on inorganic substances such as metal or glass they can grow on built up dust and dirt that accumulates on these items provided sufficient moisture is present. FACT: It is important to dry water damaged areas and items within 24-48 hours to prevent mold growth. FACT: Clean and dry any damp or wet building materials and furnishings within 24-48 hours to prevent mold growth. FACT: With water, molds grow. Without water, molds die but the spores do not. If water returns, the spores regenerate growing colonies of mold. Some water leaks in a home are seasonal (e.g., rain leaks, air conditioning leaks), and others are irregular (pipes, shower, etc.). Consequently, humidity in a home varies through time and between locations, so the types and concentration of mold and mold spores that can be found from one test to the next can vary.