With more than 100,000 species in the world, it is no wonder molds can be found everywhere. Molds are microscopic organisms that digest organic matter. These organisms are part of the fungi kingdom shared with mushrooms, yeast, and mildews. In nature, mold plays a key role in decomposing leaves, wood, and other plant debris. We wouldn’t have great foods and medicines, such as cheese and penicillin if it weren't for mold. However, problems arise when mold starts digesting the organic materials we want, such as our homes.
When molds are disturbed, their spores are released into the air which you breathe. If you directly handle moldy materials, you can be exposed to mold and mold spores through contact with your skin. Eating moldy foods or hand-to-mouth contact after handling moldy materials is yet another way you may be exposed.
Generally, the majority of common molds are not a concern to someone who is healthy. However if you have allergies or asthma, you may be sensitive to molds. You may experience skin rash, running nose, eye irritation, cough, congestion, and aggravation of asthma. Also if you have an immune suppression or underlying lung disease, you may be at increased risk for infections from molds. When necessary, some resourceful molds produce toxins in defense against other molds and bacteria called mycotoxins. Depending on exposure level, these mycotoxins may cause toxic effects in people.
If you or your family members have health problems that you suspect are caused by exposure to mold, you should consult with your physician.
Once mold spores settle in your home, they need moisture to begin growing and digesting whatever they're growing on. There are molds that can grow on wood, ceiling tiles, wallpaper, paints, carpet, sheet rock, and insulation. When excess moisture or water builds up in your home from say, high humidity, or leaking, conditions are often ideal for molds. Longstanding moisture or high humidity conditions cause mold growth. The way to control mold growth is to control moisture and counteract mold with powerful enzymes that protect organic matter.
You may have seen white thread-like growths or clusters of small black specks along your damp bathroom or basement walls, or smelled a “musty” odor. Seeing and smelling mold is a good indication that you have a mold problem. However, you cannot always rely upon your senses to locate molds. Hidden mold can be growing behind wall coverings or ceiling tiles. Common places to find mold are in areas where water has damaged building materials and furnishings perhaps from flooding or plumbing leaks.
Mold can also be found growing along walls where warm moist air condenses on cooler wall surfaces, such as inside cold exterior walls, behind dressers, headboards, and in closets where articles are stored against walls. Rooms with both high water usage and humidity, such as kitchens, bathrooms, laundry rooms, and basements are often havens for mold. If you notice mold or know of water damaged areas in your home, it is time to take action to control its growth.