Chances are you’ve have some encounter with mold, but have you ever wondered what it’s really made of? Or where it comes from? Lucky for you the experts at Titan Environmental Services are breaking down the most frequently asked questions about this common organism.
What Is Mold?
Mold is an organism that’s found both indoors and outdoors. They are in our environment, everywhere, all the time. While sometimes referred to as fungi or mildew, mold is neither a plant nor animal; it’s a part of the Fungi Kingdom.
Various types of molds are a natural and important part of our environment and play a critical role of breaking down and digesting organic material, such as dead leaves.
How Does Mold Grow and Spread?
Molds multiply by producing microscopic spores (or sporulation), and upon their release, they easily float through the air and are carried great distances or across the room to colonize.
The number of mold spores suspended in both the indoor and outdoor air fluctuates from season to season, day to day, and even hour to hour….it’s constantly changing.
Why Is Indoor Mold a Problem?
We know that mold is usually not a problem indoors until water and/or moisture is introduced into the indoor environment, and when left unchecked, molds will start to grow on and digest porous contents and cellulose rich building materials such as sheetrock, cabinets, carpeting and padding, etc.
Unchecked mold growth can cause damage to building materials and furnishings, and can even eventually cause structural damage. Mold also poses a threat to human health. It is important, therefore, to prevent mold from growing indoors.
The Color of Mold
If you thought mold was always black, you’d be wrong. Molds exist in practically every color you can imagine, ranging from purest white to darkest black with stops along the spectrum at brown, tan, green, red, orange, yellow, and even blue.
“Black mold” is not a species or specific kind of mold, and neither is “toxic mold“…although the news media likes to loosely throw those terms around. Biologically a mold is a mold is a mold. Many black molds are relatively benign and common in the environment.
The mold growths that cause the most concern among mold specialists are actually the white molds which can include some very dangerous characters indeed.
Mold Needs Two Things to Grow Indoors
To grow indoors, mold needs water and/or moisture and a food source. Mold can grow on virtually any organic substance and most buildings are full of organic materials that mold can use as food, including paper, cloth, wood, carpet, furniture and other cellulose rich contents. Water and moisture intrusion control is the key to mold control.
Where Does Mold Grow?
Mold can be found anywhere moisture and a food source are found. Many times darkness accompanies mold growth as well. Often, more than one type of mold can be found growing in the same area, although conditions such as moisture, light, and temperature may favor one species of mold over another. Common sites for indoor mold growth include:
- Sheetrock walls and ceilings
- Bathroom tile and grout
- Behind refrigerators and dishwashers
- Under and behind sinks and toilets
- Behind clothes washers and dryers
- Surrounding, under and in furnaces and air conditioning systems
- Finished basements and the contents within
Types of Mold
The most common types of mold include aspergillus, cladosporium and stachybotrys atra (also known as black mold).
Aspergillus is a fairly allergenic mold that is commonly found on foods and in home air conditioning systems.
Cladosporium is typically a black or green “pepper like” substance that grows on the back of toilets, painted surfaces and fiberglass air ducts. While this mold is nontoxic to humans, it can trigger common allergy symptoms, such as red and watery eyes, rashes and a sore throat.
Toxic black mold, or Stachybotrys chartarum, as it’s known to scientists, can release spores as it feeds on organic materials in common household items like drywall, carpet, insulation or subflooring that have been exposed to moisture.
These spores, if ingested or inhaled, can cause a range of unpleasant and even dangerous symptoms in humans including:
- Chronic coughing and sneezing
- Irritation to the eyes and mucous membranes (nose and throat)
- Chronic fatigue
- Persistent headaches
In particularly severe cases of prolonged exposure, and compounded by allergic reaction to the black mold spores, symptoms can include nausea, vomiting, and bleeding in the lungs and nose. Understanding black mold symptoms and health effects can help you and your family identify these indicators and take swift action to protect your health and your home.