Frequently Asked Questions ( FAQs )
Q: What is mold?
A: Molds are fungi that can be found both indoors and outdoors. No one knows how many species of fungi exist but estimates range from tens of thousands to perhaps three hundred thousand or more. Mold grows best in warm, damp, and humid conditions and spreads and reproduces by making spores. Mold spores can survive harsh environmental conditions, even dry conditions that do not support normal mold growth.
Q: How does mold/mildew affect people?
A: Some people are sensitive to mold/mildew. For these people, exposure to mold/mildew can cause symptoms such as nasal stuffiness, eye irritation, wheezing, or skin irritation. Some people, such as those with serious allergies to molds, may have more severe reactions like fever and shortness of breath.
Q: Where is mold found?
A: Mold is found in virtually every environment and can be detected indoors and outdoors, year round. Mold growth is encouraged by warm and humid conditions. Outdoors it can be found in shady, damp areas or places where leaves or other vegetation is decomposing. Indoors, mold can be found where humidity levels are high, such as crawl spaces or bathroom showers.
Q: How can people decrease mold?
A: Sensitive individuals should avoid areas that are likely to have mold, such as compost piles, cut grass, and wooded areas. Inside homes, mold growth can be slowed by controlling humidity levels and ventilating showers and cooking areas.
Q: What are mold spores?
A: You have probably seen mold growing on long-forgotten food in the fridge or in the great outdoors. Mold is a fungus, just like mushrooms and yeasts. It is reproduced through spores, which spread on currents of air.
Q: What causes mold growth?
A: There are up to 300,000 types of mold in the world, and each requires specific scenarios to thrive. However, most molds grow best in warm, damp areas with inadequate ventilation. Molds also need nutrients such as cellulose such as plant material including wood and cardboard, fabrics or even dead skin cells.
Q: How is mold growth detected?
A: One of the first signs of a mold problem is a characteristic musty odor. It’s like the smell of a library full of old books, but can be more noxious. However, some molds do not give off odors. Mold growth can also be detected with the naked eye, but can easily be mistaken for dirt. You may also find out about mold if you have otherwise unexplained health and respiratory problems. If you find mold in your home or business, you can perform tests that can be purchased at the hardware store. However, these may not be 100 percent reliable. If the problem is serious, professional mold testers and remediation contractors can run a series of tests to precisely identify the size and scope of the problem.
Q: When is DIY mold growth cleanup OK?
A: Since mold is so pervasive, most of us encounter it in the course of normal housework. It’s fine to clean up mold yourself if it’s in small patches and on hard surfaces such as tile, glass, metal or tubs. It’s also OK to simply throw out and replace contaminated materials yourself as long as you wear the appropriate protective gear. But don’t risk it if you have health problems that could be worsened by mold, are already experiencing breathing problems or are having allergic symptoms. Get help from a professional mold removal contractor if the problem in your home or business is:
- More than a few feet in diameter
- Related to flooding or water damage
- Inside your ventilation or heating systems
- Inside your walls
Q: How dangerous is mold?
A: Most molds aren’t dangerous to humans, but the U.S. Centers for Disease Control reports that there is sufficient evidence to link indoor mold exposure to respiratory problems among generally healthy people. Extended periods of exposure to mold can cause problems that are even more serious.
Q: What health problems can mold cause?
A: For unhealthy people or those sensitive to it, indoor mold can cause:
- Runny noses
- Shortness of breath
- Eye irritation
- Watery eyes
- Asthma attacks
- Chronic sinus infections
- Fungal infections, if mycotoxins are present
Q: What does black mold do to you?
A: Black molds are from the species Stachybotrys chartarum and can usually be found growing on and consuming materials made from the cell walls of green plants, such as wood and cardboard. They are particularly common in materials that have undergone water damage. These molds aren’t themselves toxic but can produce more mycotoxins than most other types of mold.
Q: What can mold do to your home?
A: Mold eats away at the surfaces it lives on, so the damage it causes can be extensive. In the worst-case scenarios, it can cause structural damage and make a home uninhabitable due to health risks. On a lesser scale, it can ruin ventilation systems, drywall, carpeting, furniture and possessions such as books and clothing.
Q: How long does it take for mold to grow after water damage?
A: Mold can start to grow in areas damaged by floods in as few as 24 hours, but it can also take weeks to develop. Labs usually let mold grow for between 48 and 72 hours under ideal conditions before testing. Some materials such as carpeting are known for growing mold quickly. For this reason, it’s important to dry out the area and remediate flood damage quickly.