Mold: The Pervasive Fungus Among Us
relative of mushrooms and yeast, mold serves nature well by decomposing dead organic matter like leaves and wood. However, when
mold grows in your home, its powerful enzymes eat through wallpaper, wood, and other materials while producing allergens that can
have severe health consequences. Prolific throughout nature, there are over 200,000 identified species of mold, with more being discovered regularly.
Mold reproduces with mold spores which are like microscopic seeds. At about three microns in size, mold spores are invisible to the human eye. For
comparison, the period at the end of this sentence is roughly 300 microns in size - that's 100 times larger than the typical mold spore! Not only are
they invisible, but mold spores are virtually indestructible. They can live for decades, just lying dormant, waiting for the
right conditions to begin growing and producing more mold spores, and many species release chemical toxins into the air as a self-defense
mechanism. The more you learn about mold spores, the more they sound like space invaders in a sci-fi flick.
Mold & Your Health
2006, a University of Cincinnati study found that infants who were
exposed to airborne mold spores were more likely to develop allergies to mold, pollen,
dust mites, pet dander, and certain foods as they grew older. Tina Reponen, author of the study, says, "It turns out that the health effects of airborne
fungal spores are more complicated than we thought."
Over 80% of allergy sufferers are sensitive to mold spores, and a 1999 Mayo Clinic study discovered allergenic fungal sinusitis among 93% of patients with
chronic rhinosinusitis (CRS). Like other allergens, mold can cause sneezing, chronic cough, runny nose, congestion, itchy and watery eyes, skin rashes,
sinus headaches, and even more severe respiratory problems.
But you don't have to be an allergic individual for mold to adversely affect your health. Mold can also act as an infectious agent, like bacteria
and viruses. Additionally, some species of mold produce chemical toxins called mycotoxins. Stachybotys (pronounced "stack-ee-BOT-ris"), also known as
black mold, is the most common and dangerous species of toxic mold. Symptoms of toxic mold exposure may include memory loss and other cognitive disorders,
nose bleeds, dizziness, nausea, anemia, difficulty breathing, and death.
How to Prevent Mold Growth
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that half of all U.S. buildings contain areas damp enough for mold growth.
Your Home + Moisture = Mold Growth
It's as simple as 1 + 1. If there's not enough moisture in the air, then mold cannot grow. Therefore, if you suffer from mold
allergies (or if you don't want mold to decompose your home), you should monitor your relative humidity with
a humidity gauge and
dehumidify the air to remove excess moisture. By keeping your relative humidity below 50 percent you can prevent mold growth.
Mold flourishes on your bedding, feeding off moisture from your body. Sleeping on allergy relief bedding can help you avoid
breathing in allergens while you're sleeping. Exclusive to
AchooAllergy.com, Allergy Armor bedding features a
special antimicrobial finish to prevent the growth of mold and other microorganisms while keeping dust mites and other allergens out.
M-1 Sure Cote
and EcoDiscoveries MoldZyme
also prevent mold growth on surfaces like tile, shower doors,
furniture, mattresses, wallpaper, ceilings, walls, and many more. Finally, if your home experiences water
damage from a leak or flood, be sure to dry out all damp materials within 24 - 48 hours.
Mold Removal and Remediation
houses and apartments are sealed up tightly for energy efficiency; however, those tight seals trap allergens and pollutants inside your home. Air
out your home as much as possible and use air purifiers to remove mold spores and other allergens
from the air. Hidden mold often grows inside HVAC systems. An allergy relief vent filter will
trap mold spores before they have a chance to enter your lungs.
For allergy sufferers, frequent cleaning can transform misery into relief. While dead
human skin makes up the majority of household dust, mold spores are present in dust as well. Vacuum thoroughly and regularly with
a HEPA vacuum cleaner to remove mold spores from your
carpet and furniture. M-1 House Wash, the world's finest and most versatile all purpose cleaner, works well on
almost any surface, and it can be used in pressure washers, carpet cleaners, and pump sprayers, as well as for cleaning by hand.
to the EPA, if you find a mold colony that's 10 square feet or smaller, you should be able to handle the cleanup job yourself. Scrub the mold
off hard surfaces with water and Allergy Armor House Wash
or Vital Oxide. But be careful! Cleaning mold releases spores
into the air, so if you are sensitive to mold, you'll need to wear goggles, gloves, and an
AllergyZone N95 mask for protection.
Make sure the area is well ventilated, and wash all supplies and clothing after cleaning.
For large scale clean up after look over our Water Damage Restoration page
for some useful tips and hints. If you suspect that mold may be releasing toxic chemicals or if a mold colony is larger than 10 square feet, you should consider hiring a
mold remediation professional.