Twelve Things You Must Know About Mold

Having an understanding of indoor mold is critical when one is faced with mold problems. Here we bring you 12 things you must know about mold.

12 Things You Must Know About Mold

1. All molds are potentially a health hazard. Mold exposure symptoms include allergic reactions, asthma and other respiratory complaints. Some of the indoor molds that have the potential to cause health problems including Alternaria, Aspergillus, Chaetomium, Cladosporium, Penicillium, and Stachybotrys (black mold).

2. Reaction to mold varies from individual to individual. However, those most susceptible to mold exposure include young children, the elderly, those with compromised immune systems, and persons with pre-existing respiratory problems.

3. Mold spores are everywhere and it’s practically impossible to eliminate all of them from indoors. The only way to control mold growth in the indoor environment is to control moisture.

4. Mold can cause health problems even if it is dead. That is why mold removal is recommended instead of just killing it using chemicals and leaving it indoors.

5. If mold is a problem in your home or office, you must have it removed and the moisture problem fixed.

6. Reducing indoor humidity controls mold growth. EPA recommends reducing humidity by:

     Venting bathrooms, dryers and other moisture-generating sources to the outside

     Using air conditioners and de-humidifiers

     Increasing ventilation

     Using exhaust fans whenever cooking, dishwashing and cleaning

7. Drying water damaged building materials and furnishings within 24-48 hours prevents mold growth.

8. Porous moldy materials such as ceiling tiles, drywall, and carpets cannot be effectively cleaned and therefore should be replaced after fixing the moisture problem. If the moisture problem is not resolved, the mold growth will return.

9. Condensation on cold surfaces is a major cause of mold growth. Reduce the potential for condensation on cold surfaces (i.e., windows, piping, exterior walls, roof, or floors) by adding insulation.

10. Molds can grow on virtually any organic substance, providing moisture is present. There are molds that can grow on wood, paper, carpet, fabrics, leather and foods.

11. Molds can grow undetected inside wall spaces, under carpet, and inside HVAC systems. Air sampling may help detect hidden mold.

12. Cleanup of large areas of mold contamination can cause airborne spores to increase to levels resulting in acute mold exposure. Hiring a qualified mold removal company is recommended since they have the tools and experience required to prevent the spread of airborne mold spores throughout the house.

Pa Basement/ Mold Erasers

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Use Caution If Using Sprays to Remove Mold

Don’t misinterpret the mass of information available to consumers regarding mold and how to get rid of it. Mold awareness and its potential impact on indoor air quality has given rise to a growing increasing list of so-called mold remedies and mold remediation strategies. In the last few years for example, anti-microbial sprays such as Concrobium have received attention as a good way to kill mold. The reality is, there will always be various options and opinions on what product to use and where to use it, but what is not disputed is that visible mold growth occupying an area larger than 10 square feet needs to be dealt with by either a professional or at the very least by someone following the advice of a professional. Proper remediation of mold may have less to do with the product than the technique used in conjunction with the product.
But don’t be mislead, mistakes can be made by selecting the wrong product as well. For example, when consulted about proper product and technique in a large crawlspace, Dr. Jackson Kung’u, a well respected Microbiologist had this to say:

“For removal of extensive mold growth from floor joists in the crawlspace, I would personally recommend dry ice blasting for the following reasons:

Unlike use of biocides, dry ice blasting does not add moisture to the wood and it’s non-toxic and therefore poses no health risks to the operators and the occupants.

Dry ice blasting does not damage the wood at all, but it removes and kills the mold at the same time.

Blasting does not stain the wood.”

When consulted about proper technique in a smaller area, Dr. Kung’u said:

“If the mold growth is not extensive and deeply embedded into the wood, you may spray an anti-microbial and let it set for a few hours. After the antimicrobial kills the mold then you physically go back with HEPA vacuums, and rags, and brushes, and wipe the wood. This is a more tedious process if cleaning big areas … and may not be cost effective.”

Interestingly, even “less toxic” bio sprays need to be used with full safety considerations. Appropriate personal protective equipment is required for application of antimicrobials, including a chemical- resistant suit, heavy gloves and full-face respirator with OVR cartridges. Moreover, the area in which the mold is being treated requires a complete industry standard protocol of containment, air management, removal process, cleaning process, drying process and finally, post remediation, lab verified clearance testing to make sure the job was actually completed with the results intended.

Pa Basement/Mold Erasers

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800-511-6579

Mold vs Mildew: What’s the difference?

Many people don’t know that there is actually a difference between mold and mildew. A fungi is a fungi right? Well, although that may be typically accurate, there are more then a million species in the mold families. All of which are different sources of organic compounds found in our every day environments.

Mold and mildew are types of fungi; typically, mold is black or green, and mildew is gray or white (but not always). Mold tends to grow on organic surfaces, whereas mildew is an issue on damp surfaces, like bathroom walls, basement walls, or fabrics. Mold grows in the form of multicellular filaments or hyphae, while mildew has flat growth. Mildew is often referred to as a kind of mold that is in one general area and isn’t growing or spreading. Mold can contaminate your indoor environment and spread rapidly though spores in the air.

Appearance & Identification:

Without a proper sample it is hard to determine the species of fungi you are dealing with and is best left to the professionals. Visual inspections of the fungi can vary and be hard to determine without proper examination.

Mildew: could be downy or powdery: Downy mildew starts as yellow spots that first become brighter in appearance and then the color changes to brown. Powdery mildew is whitish in color and that slowly turn yellowish brown and then black. This is why it is important to remember that not all black molds are a toxic black mold. Analysis is needed to determine this, and hiring a professional to take the samples so you don’t disrupt the surface and the spores is best.

Mold: has a fuzzy appearance and can be an orange, green, black, brown, pink or purple in color. Can be found in several shapes. Mold tends to grow and spread through out the damp surfaces and will find other damp or wet areas in the home. Mold can travel through the air and contaminate adjacent areas of your home from moving furniture, furnaces, air conditioners, fans and dehumidifiers. If your home has mold or mildew in it, it is best to get everything sampled before preparing the removal process.

Prevention

To prevent mildew at home, keep all the areas moisture-free. There are mildew removers available at stores to eliminate mildew. To protect crops from mildew use mildew-resistant seeds, remove infested plants, avoid overhead heating.

To prevent mold in your home, you need to keep all the areas dry and moisture-free. Check the humidity levels inside the house and take measures to control it. Finish perishable food within 3-4 days.

Prolonged exposure to mold spores can cause health problems such as allergic reactions and respiratory problems, due to the toxins (mycotoxins) it produces.

Mildew can cause damage to crops and other plants it infests. Inhalation of mildew can cause coughing, headache, scratchy throat and lung problems. Mildew can also start growing in lungs and cause other serious health problems.

Pa Basement/Mold Erasers 

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800-511-6579

Mycotoxins: From Antibiotics to Biological Warfare Agents

Molds produce a number of powerful substances that can affect your health in beneficial or detrimental ways. It should come as no surprise that fungi produce potent biologically active compounds—after all, lysergic acid (the parent compound of LSD) is produced by a mushroom! And penicillin is a mycotoxin produced by the mold Penicillium, better known as an antibiotic.
Some mold compounds are volatile and released directly into the air, known as microbial volatile organic compounds (mVOCs). Fragments of the cell walls of molds (glucans) can also be inhaled and cause inflammatory respiratory reactions, including a flu-like illness called Organic Dust Toxic Syndrome (ODTS).

But the most serious danger comes from highly poisonous agents called mycotoxins.

More than 200 mycotoxins have been identified from common molds. Mycotoxins interfere with RNA synthesis and may cause DNA damage.8 The mycotoxins that have probably received the most attention by researchers are the trichothecenes, produced by Stachybotyrs chartarum and Aspergillus versicolor. Mycotoxins, even in minute quantities, are lipid-soluble and readily absorbed by your intestinal lining, airways, and skin. Some are so poisonous that they have been studied and developed as biological warfare agents9 as far back as the 1940s. Aflatoxin and trichothecenes10 are prime examples.

Even spores that are no longer able to reproduce can still harm your health due to these mycotoxins—in other words, “dead” mold spores are every bit as dangerous as “live” ones. The spores do not produce the toxins—rather, it is thought that the toxins are produced when the spores are produced, by the mold colony. Scientists believe that mycotoxins are the organism’s way of holding a competitive edge by defeating other organisms that are trying to thrive in the same environment—like humans, for example.

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Types of Fungus Among Us

Mold is a type of fungus, as are mushrooms and yeast. There are between 100,000 and 400,000 types of fungi (estimates vary), and of these, scientists have identified more than 1,000 types of mold growing inside houses across America. Molds are classified into three groups according to human responses:
Allergenic Molds: These don’t usually produce life-threatening effects and are most problematic if you are allergic or asthmatic. The challenge is in figuring out what you are sensitive to. Children are particularly susceptible to mold allergies.

Pathogenic Molds: These produce some sort of infection, which is of particular concern if your immune system is suppressed. They can cause hypersensitivity pneumonitis, an acute response resembling bacterial pneumonia. An example is Aspergillus fumigatus, which can grow in the lungs of immune-compromised individuals.

Toxigenic Molds (aka “toxic molds”): These dangerous molds produce mycotoxins, which can have serious health effects on almost anyone. Possible reactions include immunosuppression and cancer. Mycotoxins are chemical toxins present within or on the surface of the mold spore, which you then unwittingly inhale, ingest, or touch. An example of this is aflatoxin, one of the most potent carcinogens known to mankind. Aflatoxin grows on peanuts and grains, and on some other foods.

The five most common indoor mold varieties are:

Alternaria: Commonly found in your nose, mouth, and upper respiratory tract; can cause allergic responses

Aspergillus: Usually found in warm, extremely damp climates, and a common occupant of house dust; produces mycotoxins; can cause lung infections (aspergillosis5)

Cladosporium: This very common outdoor fungus can find its way indoors to grow on textiles, wood and other damp, porous materials; triggers hay fever and asthma symptoms

Penicillium: Very common species found on wallpaper, decaying fabrics, carpet, and fiberglass duct insulation; known for causing allergies and asthma; some species produce mycotoxins, one being the common antibiotic penicillin

Stachybotrys: Extremely toxic “black mold” that produces mycotoxins that can cause serious breathing difficulties and bleeding of the lungs, among other health problems; thankfully, less common in homes than the other four, but not rare; found on wood or paper (cellulose products), but NOT on concrete, linoleum or tile

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Adverse Health Effects from Mold

A lot of people end up treating the symptoms of mold exposure and never get to the root of the problem. Oftentimes, they don’t even make the connection that mold is the cause of their problems… and neither does their physician. According to mycotoxin expert Dr. Harriet Amman
exposure to indoor molds can damage the systems of your body in the following ways:
Vascular: blood vessel fragility, hemorrhage from tissues or lungs Digestive: diarrhea, vomiting, hemorrhage, liver damage, fibrosis, and necrosis
Respiratory: trouble breathing, bleeding from lungs Neurological: tremors, loss of coordination, headaches, depression,12 multiple sclerosis

Skin: rashes, burning, sloughing, photosensitivity Urinary: kidney toxicity

Reproductive: infertility, changes in reproductive cycles Immune: Immunosuppression

One of the challenges of diagnosing a mold allergy is that reactions are so variable from one person to another. Some people start having memory problems, while others may experience sudden changes in disposition, such as agitation, anger, panic, or depression. Headaches are common but don’t affect everyone exposed to mold.

Common symptoms are:

Coughing and wheezing
Sinus problems and post-nasal drip

Itchy rashes

Joint pain

If you would like more information about how to recognize a mold reaction and how to read your own body’s “silent alarm system,” I highly recommend; Dr. Rapp, a mold expert and author of several books, including Our Toxic World: A Wake Up Call.

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What You Don’t Know CAN Hurt You: The Billings Story

Kurt and Lee Ann Billings learned the hard way about the damaging health effects of mold—and the level of ignorance about mold’s effects by medical professionals. Living in a home in the outer impact zone of Hurricane Katrina, they suffered a progressive array of symptoms for which their physicians had no solution. They later discovered that their illness was due to mold infestation in their home.
What started as tightness and burning in their chests and itchy eyes soon progressed into severely diminished lung capacity that did not resolve, despite moving out of their home. After extensive research and eventually recovering their health, they wrote the book Mold: The War Within in hopes of educating a poorly informed and disadvantaged public.

On page 11, they write: “It appears, based on our experiences and research, that much of the medical community is stuck in a time warp when it comes to fungal illnesses—even in regard to the notably researched and highly publicized condition of fungal-induced sinusitis.”

What they are referring to is research done by the Mayo Clinic in the 1990s that strongly suggests NEARLY ALL chronic sinusitis (inflammation of the membranes of your nose and sinus cavities) is caused by fungi, but blamed on bacteria—then mistreated using antibiotics. The findings were published in 1999 in two peer-reviewed journals, Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology and Mayo Clinic Proceedings. Yet, the Billings report that most physicians are unaware of this study, or at least of its significance.

A 1999 Mayo Clinic press release stated:

“Mayo Clinic researchers say they have found the cause of most chronic sinus infections—an immune system response to fungus.

The Mayo Clinic study suggests that 96 percent of the people who suffer from chronic sinusitis are “fungal sensitized,” meaning they have immune responses triggered by inhaled fungal organisms.

According to Billings, 37 million people in the U.S. suffer from chronic sinusitis, and its incidence has been increasing over the past decade. Yet, most physicians continue to believe that fungi are an uncommon cause of respiratory infections, accounting for less than 10 percent. Furthermore, in most cases, antibiotics are not effective for chronic sinusitis because they target bacteria, NOT fungi.

Antibiotics and steroids can actually worsen fungal-related infections by destroying your body’s natural biological terrain, creating an internal incubation ground for fungi.

This points to an enormous number of chronic sinus infections that are being misdiagnosed and mistreated!

The bottom line in all of this is, if you have chronic sinusitis, you MUST approach it from the perspective of a fungal infection, not a bacterial infection, even if it means having to educate your healthcare provider. A good place to start is by sharing the Mayo Clinic study referenced above. Mold: The War Within is also a useful resource. 

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How to Get Rid of Mold: 15 Tips Every Homeowner Should Know

How to Get Rid of Mold:
1. Investigate your home or office for moisture leakage. If you find any moisture leaks, clean them up with a dry towel immediately and find the source of the leak. Consider hiring a professional if the leak does not stop or if you are dealing with a plumbing issue. Controlling moisture leaks in your home or place of work will reduce the mold’s ability to thrive.

2. Mold loves warm and wet places. If you live in a place with humidity levels of 70% or more, you must particularly take heed to prevent toxic moldy air. Invest in a high-quality dehumidifier and test your home for mold over-growth.

3. Temperatures above 75° F, as well as poorly lit rooms and unmoving air, can actually create more mold. Keep fresh air moving in your home, as well as bright sunlight coming in through your windows. This will help reduce toxic mold.

4. Open a window while you take a shower, if possible.

5. Change air filters regularly in heating and air-conditioning vents.

6. Invest in a good quality air purification system that employs both a HEPA filter and UV & negative ion technologies. In my opinion, this will give you the best results when cleaning your air.

7. Keep your home at a moderate temperature, at around 69-73° F and keep the humidity level at 54% and below.

8. Make sure your clothes dryer has an anti-humidity vent.

9. Check closets for mold growth. This is especially important if you have ever placed wet or damp clothing in your closets. If you find mold in your closet, wash your clothes immediately to help clean any possible mold spores.

10. Protect your breathing passages when removing active or dead mold. Wear a mask, eye protection and protective gloves that filter mold.

11. When cleaning, slightly wet the mold to lessen the amount of airborne spores in the breathing atmosphere while you are cleaning. This can be done with a wet cloth.

12. Scrub hard surfaces infested in mold with a non-ammonia soap. Non-toxic, organic soap is best for the environment.

13. Porous surface cannot be cleaned of mold. Things like moldy carpeting, drywall, wall-paper, fabric, or other porous surfaces, must be completely removed and replaced from your home or office.

14. If you have mold on the structural support of your home or office building, it may not be cleaned out by scrubbing alone.  Don’t forget to wear the appropriate protective coverings.

15. Remember, the best prevention for mold is to KEEP THINGS DRY and always use a good air purification system!
Call Mold Erasers for a free inspection: 800-511-6579  www.molderasers.com, http://www.pabasement.com

Brown Study Finds Link Between Depression and Household Mold

A groundbreaking public health study, led by Brown University epidemiologist Edmond Shenassa, has found a connection between damp, moldy homes and depression. Results are published in the American Journal of Public Health.
PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — A groundbreaking public health study has found a connection between damp, moldy homes and depression. The study, led by Brown University epidemiologist Edmond Shenassa, is the largest investigation of an association between mold and mood and is the first such investigation conducted outside the United Kingdom.

Shenassa said the findings, published in the American Journal of Public Health, came as a complete surprise. In fact, after a few U.K. studies published in the last decade had suggested a link, Shenassa and his skeptical team set out to debunk the notion that any link existed.

“We thought that once we statistically accounted for factors that could clearly contribute to depression – things like employment status and crowding – we would see any link vanish,” said Shenassa, the lead author of the study and an associate professor in the Department of Community Health at Brown. “But the opposite was true. We found a solid association between depression and living in a damp, moldy home.”

Shenassa noted the study, an analysis of data from nearly 6,000 European adults, does not prove that moldy homes cause depression. The study wasn’t designed to draw that direct conclusion. However, Shenassa’s team did find a connection, one likely driven by two factors. One factor is a perceived lack of control over the housing environment. The other is mold-related health problems such as wheezing, fatigue and a cold or throat illness.

“Physical health, and perceptions of control, are linked with an elevated risk for depression,” Shenassa said, “and that makes sense. If you are sick from mold, and feel you can’t get rid of it, it may affect your mental health.”

The study was a statistical analysis of data from the Large Analysis and Review of European Housing and Health Status (LARES), a survey on housing, health and place of residence conducted in 2002 and 2003 by the World Health Organization (WHO). To conduct the survey, WHO interviewers visited thousands of homes in eight European cities and asked residents a series of questions, including if they had depressive symptoms such as decreased appetite, low self-esteem, and sleep disturbances. WHO interviewers also made visual checks of each household, looking for spots on walls and ceilings that indicate mold.

Shenassa’s team analyzed LARES data from 5,882 adults in 2,982 households.

“What the study makes clear is the importance of housing as indicator of health, including mental health,” Shenassa said. “Healthy homes can promote healthy lives.”

Shenassa and his team are conducting follow-up research to see if mold does, indeed, directly cause depression. Shenassa said that given the results of the current study, he wouldn’t be surprised if there is a cause-and-effect association. Molds are toxins, and some research has indicated that these toxins can affect the nervous system or the immune system or impede the function of the frontal cortex, the part of the brain that plays a part in impulse control, memory, problem solving, sexual behavior, socialization and spontaneity.

The research team includes Allison Liebhaber, a former Brown undergraduate; Constantine Daskalakis of Thomas Jefferson University; Matthias Braubach of WHO; and Mary Jean Brown of the Harvard School of Public Health.

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Eye Opening Statistics About Mold:

A groundbreaking report from 2007 stated that scientists found a direct correlation between a high presence of mold in households and depression.
Even more shockingly, studies have shown that the air inside our homes can be worse than the air outside. The average American spends around 90% of our time in enclosed buildings, and over 60% of our time in our houses. 

Scientists have identified over 1,000 types of mold and mildew inside houses in the United States. 

More than 100,000 types of mold exist!

“Stachybotrys” is a highly-toxic type of mold that has been related to human death.

Toxic Mold: How It Survives

Toxic Mold

Mold lives off of any organic matter and loves a warm, humid environment. This includes your leather jacket, a peach, old newspapers, bathroom walls, windowsills, ceilings, and wall-paper. Most often, mildew, which is a form of mold or fungus, infests our living or workspaces when there is a high level of moisture, like a musty basement or a shower wall. It comes in through our walls, windows, doors, carpets, or under the refrigerator.

Mold spores can also be carried in on our clothing, shoes, pets and our bodies. Doctors warn against breathing in mold over long periods of time. Often times, our homes and offices are infested with toxic mold and mildew. And, because it can hide in cracks in our walls, as well as other invisible places, most of us are unaware that we are being exposed to the extremely harmful effects.

Today, mold growth in homes and places of work is more of a health issue than we may think. So it’s important that you recognize the symtoms of mold in your home, and take steps to protect yourself and your family.