What are molds?
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. Molds grow best in warm, damp, and humid conditions, and spread and reproduce by making spores. Mold spores can survive harsh environmental conditions, such as dry conditions, that do not support normal mold growth.
Mold in my workplace is making me sick
If you believe you are ill because of exposure to mold in the building where you work, you should first consult your health care provider to determine the appropriate action to take to protect your health. Notify your employer and, if applicable, your union representative about your concern so that your employer can take action to clean up and prevent mold growth. To find out more about mold, remediation of mold, or workplace safety and health guidelines and regulations, you may also want to contact your local (city, county, or state) health department.
My landlord or builder will not take any responsibility for cleaning up the mold in my home. Where can I go for help?
If you feel your property owner, landlord, or builder has not been responsive to concerns you’ve expressed regarding mold exposure, you can contact your local board of health or housing authority. Applicable codes, insurance, inspection, legal, and similar issues about mold generally fall under state and local (not federal) jurisdiction. You could also review your lease or building contract and contact local or state government authorities, your insurance company, or an attorney to learn more about local codes and regulations and your legal rights. SPECIAL NOTE: Your landlord/property owner is responsible for your safety while on their property. Having a mold situation that is harming your health is no different than having a staircase that has broken steps. You are not safe, and they must pay for inspection and remediation of any microbial growth.
Interstate Mold Inspection can inspect your property and give you a professional report which you can take to your landlord.
Is mold growth on roof sheathing in my attic a problem?
It is not uncommon to find mold on the underside of roof sheathing. Usually this is the result of insufficient venting, such as venting bathroom or laundry exhaust into the attic and/or insufficient peak or soffit vents. Moisture-laden warm air that enters the attic rises, contacts the cold sheathing and condenses. If this happens often enough it can affect the structural integrity of the roof through warping or rot. It is possible for mold-contaminated attic air to enter the house, the function and integrity of the roof should be the greater concern. Consult with a home energy or roofing specialist on a proper ventilation strategy, as well as Interstate Mold Inspection to conduct an air sampling.
How should I handle carpet, drywall and other porous materials that got wet?
When porous items such as drywall and carpet get wet, they should be dried within 48 hours or discarded. Porous items or surfaces are those that can soak up water easily. They include drywall, clothing, textiles, upholstered furniture, leather, paper goods, and many types of artwork or decorative items. Many soft materials can be a food source for mold. When these materials soak up water, moisture can be retained for extended periods increasing the potential for mold growth. Foam carpet pads can retain moisture long enough to support mold growth. In addition to flooding, extended periods of high interior humidity can lead to mold growth. This is sometimes indicated by a musty odor. If sewage or gray water is involved, the materials should be discarded. For assistance on structural restoration from water damage, consult a professional familiar with the guidelines of the Institute for Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration Certification
Can mold really cause health problems?
Molds are usually not a problem indoors, unless mold spores land on a wet or damp spot and begin growing. Molds have the potential to cause health problems. Molds produce allergens (substances that can cause allergic reactions), irritants, and in some cases, potentially toxic substances (mycotoxins). Inhaling or touching mold or mold spores may cause allergic reactions in sensitive individuals. Allergic responses include hay fever-type symptoms, such as sneezing, runny nose, red eyes, and skin rash (dermatitis). Allergic reactions to mold are common. They can be immediate or delayed. Molds can also cause asthma attacks in people with asthma who are allergic to mold. In addition, mold exposure can irritate the eyes, skin, nose, throat, and lungs of both mold-allergic and non-allergic people. Symptoms other than the allergic and irritant types are not commonly reported as a result of inhaling mold. Research on mold and health effects is ongoing. For more detailed information consult a health professional. You may also wish to consult your state or local health department.
When is mold a problem?
You know you have mold when you smell the "musty" odor or see small black or white specks along your damp bathroom or basement walls. Some mold is hidden growing behind wall coverings or ceiling tiles. Even dry, dead mold can cause health problems, so always take precautions when you suspect mold. Mold is often found in areas where water has damaged building materials and furniture 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. Mold often grows in rooms with both high water usage and humidity, such as kitchens, bathrooms, laundry rooms, and basements. If you notice mold or know of water damaged areas in your home, it is time to take action to control its growth.
Can mold affect people with asthma?
A person with asthma who is sensitive to molds could have an asthma attack triggered by either indoor or outdoor exposures. With respect to allergy, the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine (ACOEM) states, "While indoor molds are well-recognized allergens, outdoor molds are more generally important." A physician should be consulted if mold exposure may be a concern. For people with asthma, a common health strategy is to avoid exposure by minimizing the amount of dust in the home. Humidity control is also very important. ACOEM supports indoor moisture control and the broad array of indoor respiratory challenges it affects. Moisture control is also strongly supported by the National Academy of Sciences as outlined in its report, Damp Indoor Spaces and Health
How many air samples are necessary to find a mold problem?
The proper number and location of air samples is often a matter of debate and depends on the questions to be answered, strength of desired conclusions and on cost. Mold levels vary greatly with season, temperature, humidity and time of day. This variability requires that multiple samples be collected at each location to be sure the observed difference is real and not just due to chance. Interstate Mold Inspection Normally takes two air samples. One inside a room of concern and one outside the building to compare levels. Additional samples of the air can be taken in various rooms at the discretion of the home owner.
These pictures show serious mold issues, however lessor amounts and unseen mold can still cause big health problems.