With all the rain we’ve had in April, there’s a good chance your home or business might have mold due to recent conditions being perfect for mold growth. It doesn’t take long—24 hours is all—so if you’ve had water in your basement, around your foundation, or leaking from a roof or window, you should check for signs of mold.
Mold is part of the natural environment. It plays an important part in nature by breaking down dead organic matter such as fallen leaves and dead trees; but indoors, mold growth should be avoided. Molds reproduce by means of tiny spores. The spores are like seeds, but invisible to the naked eye, that float through the air. Mold may begin growing indoors when spores land on moist surfaces. There are many types of mold, but all require moisture and a food source for growth.
In large amounts mold can be a health hazard to humans, potentially causing allergic reactions and respiratory problems.
Symptoms of Mold
Symptoms of mold exposure may include nasal and sinus congestion; runny nose; eye irritation; itchy, red, watery eyes; respiratory problems, such as wheezing and difficulty breathing; chest tightness; cough; throat irritation; skin irritation (such as a rash); headache; persistent sneezing; and even asthma.
Molds are found everywhere, and can grow on almost any substance when moisture is present. Because common building materials are capable of sustaining mold growth, mold growth in an indoor environment is typically related to water or moisture and may be caused by incomplete drying of flooring materials (such as concrete). Flooding, leaky roofs, building-maintenance or indoor-plumbing problems can lead to interior mold growth. Floors over crawl spaces and basements, without vapor barriers or with dirt floors, are mold-prone.
Significant mold growth requires moisture and food sources and a substrate capable of sustaining growth. Common building materials, such as plywwod, drywall, furring strips, carpets, and carpet padding provide food for mold. In carpeting, invisible dust and cellulose are food sources. After water damage to a building, mold grows in walls and then becomes dormant until subsequent high humidity; suitable conditions reactivate mold. Mycotoxin levels are higher in buildings which have had a water incident.
Mold is detectable by smell and signs of water damage on walls or ceiling, and can grow in places invisible to the human eye. It may be found behind wallpaper or paneling, on the inside of ceiling tiles, the back of drywall, or the underside of carpets or carpet padding. Piping in walls may also be a source of mold, since they may leak (causing moisture and condensation).
If a house has mold, the moisture may originate in the basement or crawl space, a leaking roof or a leak in plumbing pipes. Insufficient ventilation may accelerate moisture buildup. Visible mold colonies may form where ventilation is poorest and on perimeter walls.
If there are mold problems in a house only during certain times of the year, the house is probably too airtight or too drafty. Mold problems occur in airtight homes more frequently in the warmer months (when humidity is high inside the house, and moisture is trapped), and occur in drafty homes more frequently in the colder months (when warm air escapes from the living area and condenses). If a house is artificially humidified during the winter, this can create conditions favorable to mold. Molds grow best in warm temperatures, 77 to 86 °F (25 to 30 °C), although growth may occur between 32 and 95 °F (0 and 35 °C).
The first step in assessment is to determine if mold is present through a mold inspection performed by a Certified Microbial Investigator. These inspections consist of visually examining the premises; moisture meter readings, tape lift samples, and indoor and outdoor air samples.
The first step in solving an indoor mold problem is to remove the moisture source. Significant mold growth may require professional mold remediation to remove the affected building materials and eradicate the source of excess moisture. The goals of remediation are to remove (or clean) contaminated materials, preventing fungi (and fungi-contaminated dust) from entering an occupied (or non-contaminated) area while protecting workers performing the abatement.
Aspen Environmental professionals are licensed and insured and members of the National Organization of Remediators and Mold Inspectors (NORMI), the National Air Duct Cleaners Association (NADCA), and the Institute of Inspection Cleaning and Restoration Certification (IICRC).
Contact Aspen for anything related to water damage cleanup, mold testing, mold removal, or air ducts: Call 978.328.0882 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.