Besides raising your heart rate, seeing mold in your living space can also raise a lot of questions. Here are some answers.
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A: Mold is a category of undesirable fungal growth that is commonly found thriving on wet materials or food. They can also survive on almost anything, whether in an active or dormant state. There are tons of mold species and their colors are endless, ranging from yellow to black to green to even white. As colorful as it is, mold is not a welcome sight and can serve as a warning sign for a serious underlying water problem.
A: Water accumulation or excessive moisture are the typical sources of mold growth. A spore could lay dormant on a surface for extended periods of time but as soon as it has a source of water, it will start to actively grow and spread.
A: Excessive moisture can happen for a multitude of different reasons, whether your roof is leaking; there is high relative humidity in your office; or your building experienced a flood. Having these conditions for a short period of time will not automatically lead to mold growth but it is good to stay cognizant. Research suggests that relative humidity should be kept below 65% in order to prevent mold but you really don’t need to watch your humidity level with a hawkeye. Reducing excess moisture in areas that commonly grow mold will do the trick.
A: Mold can honestly be found almost everywhere. Its spores can easily hitch a ride on your clothes and land wherever it can. However, some common indoor places to find mold are in attics, behind drywall, under carpets, and on ceiling tiles. It can be found on visible surfaces or hidden areas. In addition, this pervasive fungus can grow on materials such as wood products, books, paint, clothes, and other fabrics. A tell-tale sign of mold presence is its smell so that could help to locate mold when it is obscured from view. However, keep in mind that not every mold will have a smell but if it does, thoroughly examine the area so that you can take care of the problem. Quite frankly, it is not possible nor necessary for you to completely eradicate spores and growths indoors but it is in your best interest to minimize their presence.
A: Mold damages whatever surface it sprouts on. Consequently, it can significantly weaken the structure of your building, which presents a great danger to not only you but others in your surroundings. Beyond the physical harm, mold is also associated with health concerns, diminishing quality of life for those who are around it for extended amounts of time. The scientific community has not yet been able to confirm the connection between mold and health issues but that does not lessen the importance of lowering the probability of indoor mold growth.
A: Just because mold is present in your household does not automatically mean you will get sick. Even seeing mold in your living space does not necessarily mean you have inhaled them or been exposed. As you take that breath of relief, remember that it is still better to fix this fungus problem ASAP as a precaution.
A: Typical reactions include allergies, infections, wheezing, itchy skin, and coughing. People who are sensitive to molds or have bad allergies can experience extremely intense reactions. Currently, not enough data exists that demonstrates how long it takes for these issues to occur.
A: The general steps for mold removal are to locate and fix the original water problem that had been causing the contamination. Then, you should dry or replace any materials that are wet. Finally, you should clean or throw out moldy material using the proper equipment. Using a soap or detergent solution, scrub thoroughly with a damp cloth or mop to get rid of the mold. You can find more specific steps in our overview or types articles on mold.
A: At the very least, you should wear rubber gloves that reach mid-forearm, eye protection, and an N-95 respirator. You should also wear waterproof covered shoes and long-sleeved shirts and pants. For larger decontamination projects, disposable clothing would be a good idea as you can simply discard the clothing after you finish removing the mold, minimizing any further contamination.
A: Yes, it can differ depending on the material affected, i.e. whether the surface is porous or non-porous. If it is porous, you can either try cleaning it extremely well or you will just have to get rid of it as a whole if the contamination is too severe. Examples of a porous structure are your ceiling tiles or drywall. These absorb water easily and, therefore, allows mold to readily sink in and get rooted within the material. This makes it difficult to thoroughly remediate the fungus. When disposing of these If the surface is non-porous, you can typically use non-ammonia soap and water to remove the mold, properly scrubbing it with a damp cloth or a mop. Example of a non-porous structure are glass or metal. Since they do not absorb water, mold has a harder time rooting itself inside of the material.
A: Any contaminated deemed to be non-salvageable must be sealed in at least two disposable bags or wrapped in plastic a couple times. Mold-infested substances are actually not treated as hazardous waste so it is safe to toss them in the trash.
A: Actively monitoring and maintaining the humidity and moisture levels within your office will go a long way towards preventing or at least minimize mold growth. If you find any surfaces that are water damaged or are carrying excess moisture, it’s best that you immediately dry them to avoid mold growth. For places that are prone to condensation such as bathrooms and kitchens, venting the area would be a good method for curbing moisture issues. Ultimately, correcting the original water accumulation problem will also help to circumvent problems.
A: Feel free to ask for more information from organizations like the CDC or AIHA. They offer a great variety of resources that will help you understand and handle indoor air-related health issues such as mold. You can also reach out to mold remediation companies like SERVPRO that operates around the country or Professional Restoration over in Colorado. With years of experience under their belts, these experts can provide you with useful information to tackle your issue or perform the remediation themselves.