Mold Q & A
Q. What is mold?
A. Molds are forms of fungi found all year round both indoors and outdoors. Outdoors, molds live in the soil, on plants, and on dead or decaying matter. Another common term for mold is mildew. Mold growth is encouraged by warm and humid conditions, although it can grow during cold weather. There are thousands of species of mold and they can be any color. Many times, mold can be detected by a musty odor. Most fungi, including molds, produce microscopic cells called “spores” that spread easily through the air. Live spores act like seeds, forming new mold growths (colonies) with the right conditions. All of us are exposed to fungal spores daily in the air we breathe.
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Q. Is Mold
A. Mold has certainly made its way into people's homes as well as the headlines recently. Many people still don't fully understand the health hazards of fungal exposure. The term toxic mold is somewhat misleading as it exudes an idea that certain molds are toxic, when actually certain types of molds produce secondary metabolites that produce toxins. The correct term is mycotoxins. Airborne mycotoxins from can definitely destroy one's health. Sometimes, people are unaware that they are breathing mold spores and mycotoxins until they are very sick. Certain people have a minor allergic reactions to the non-toxic mold, but once you leave the affected area they most likely recover with few serious side effects. However, if they have been exposed to the dangerous molds such as Stachybotrys or Chaetomium, they could suffer from a myriad of serious symptoms and illnesses such as chronic bronchitis, learning disabilities, mental deficiencies, heart problems, cancer, multiple sclerosis, chronic fatigue, lupus, fibromyalgia, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple chemical sensitivity, bleeding lungs and much more.
The molds that produce airborne toxins that can cause serious symptoms, such as breathing difficulties, memory and hearing loss, dizziness, flu-like symptoms, and acid reflux. Common ailments from toxigenic mold---including allergies (hypersensitivity after initial toxicity), and excessive bruising---usually can be treated and reduced after people leave their contaminated environment. Often medication, diet, and other treatment protocols are necessary. But other health problems may remain permanently, such as brain damage and weakened immune systems. Eyesight, memory, coordination/balance, and hearing are generally the most common residual effects that often do not improve after treatment in most cases.
Many people are either unaware, ignorant, or in denial about the severe health hazards involved with some types of indoor household molds. Molds come in thousands of different varieties, but a few who are some of the offenders that invade our homes. Alternaria and Cladosporium are the molds most commonly found both indoors and outdoors throughout the United States. Aspergillus, Penicillium, Helminthosporium, Epicoccum, Fusarium, Mucor, Rhizopus, and Aureobasidium are also common. One of the mycotoxins, aflatoxin, is produced by the fungi Penicillium, Aspergillus flavus and Aspergillus parasiticus. Four different aflatoxins, B1, B2, G1 and G2, have been identified with B1 being the most toxic, carcinogenic and prevalent. Another very dangerous family of toxin producers is Fusarium. The toxins zearalenone, trichothecenes or moniliformin can be formed by various types of Fusarium including F. moniliforme, F. oxysporum, F. culmorum, F. avenaceum, F. equiseti, F. roseum, and F. nivale.
The most dangerous mold strains are: Chaetomium (pronounced Kay-toe-MEE-yum) and Stachybotrys chartarum (pronounced Stack-ee-BOT-ris Shar-TAR-um) as they have been proven to produce demylenating mycotoxins among others, meaning they can lead to autoimmune disease. Under certain growth and environmental conditions, both of these fungi release toxic, microscopic spores and several types of mycotoxins that can cause the worst symptoms which are usually irreversible such as neurological and immunological damage. Some of these natural mycotoxins include a very strong class known as trichothecenes. Trichothecenes are also produced by several common molds including species in the genera Acremonium, Cylindrocarpon, Dendrodochium, Myrothecium, Trichoderma, and Trichothecium. The trichothecenes are potent inhibitors of DNA, RNA, and protein synthesis, and have been well studied in animal models because of concern about their potential misuse as agents of biological warfare, due to their ability to destroy human health (mentally and physically), and never appear in an autopsy.
The disturbing factor about airborne mycotoxins is that it is impossible to know how much damage they have caused to one's health until it is too late. Therefore, It is imperative to not knowingly expose oneself even for brief periods of time in any place that smells moldy or has an appearance of mold or mildew. If you suspect that the air quality in your home is being compromised by mold spores you can have the air tested, but it can be quite expensive in some instances. It's worth it if it helps save your health.
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Q. How Does Mold Enter A Home And How Does It Grow?
A. Mold spores occur in the indoor and outdoor environments. Mold spores may enter your house from the outside through open doorways, windows, and heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems with outdoor air intakes. Spores in the air outside also attach themselves to people and animals, making clothing, shoes, bags, and pets convenient vehicles for carrying mold indoors.
When mold spores drop on places where there is excessive moisture, such as where leakage may have occurred in roofs, pipes, walls, plant pots, or where there has been flooding, they will grow. Many building materials provide suitable nutrients that encourage mold to grow. Wet cellulose materials, including paper and paper products, cardboard, ceiling tiles, wood, and wood products, are particularly conducive for the growth of some molds. Other materials such as dust, paints, wallpaper, insulation materials, drywall, carpet, fabric, and upholstery, commonly support mold growth.
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Q. Does Chlorine
Bleach Kill Mold?*
A. A myth exists concerning the use and “effectiveness” of chlorine bleach
(sodium hypochorite) in the remediation of a mold problem. Mold
remediation involves the removal and or clean up and restoration of mold
contaminated building materials.
Opposing Views and
Chlorine bleach, commonly referred to as laundry bleach, is generally perceived to be an “accepted and answer-all” biocide to abate mold in the remediation processes. Well-intentioned recommendations of health departments and other state and local agencies are perpetuating that belief. The Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) who once recommended using clorine bleach for mold abatement was the first federal agency to stop recommending the use of liquid bleach in mold remediation. Subsequently, The Environmental Protection Agency wrote-out/edited their A Brief Guide to Mold, Moisture and Your Home (EPA 402-k-02-003) to exclude their once recommended use of bleach as a mold clean-up agent.
Does Bleach Really
Will chlorine bleach kill mold or not—yes or no? The answer is yes, but with a caveat. That answer comes from The Clorox Company, Oakland CA, manufacturer and distributor of Ultra Clorox® Regular Bleach. The company’s correspondence to Spore°Tech Mold Investigations, LLC stated that their Tech Center studies supported by independent laboratories show that “…3/4 cup of Clorox liquid bleach per gallon of water will be effective on hard, non-porous surfaces against… Aspergillus niger and Trichophyton mentagrophytes (Athlete’s Foot Fungus)”. Whether or not chlorine bleach kills other molds and fungi, the company did not say. The “hard, non-porous surfaces” part of the sentence is a caveat. Mold remediation involves the need to disinfect wood and wood-based building materials, all of which are porous materials. Thus, chlorine bleach should not be used in mold remediation as confirmed by OSHA’s and EPA's updated recommendations and suggested guidelines. The use of bleach as a mold disinfectant is best left to kitchen and bathroom countertops, tubs and shower glass, etc.
Bleach is NOT Recommended for Mold Remediation.
Clorine bleach is corrosive and that fact is stated on the product label (not to mention the exposure hazards of dioxins). Yet the properties of chlorine bleach prevent it from “soaking into” wood-based building materials to get at the deeply embedded mycelia (roots) of mold. The object to killing mold is to kill its “roots”. Reputable mold remediation contractors use appropriate products that effectively disinfect properly scrubbed and cleaned salvageable mold infected wood products. Beware of any mold inspector, mold remediation contractor or other individual that recommends or uses chlorine bleach for mold clean up on wood-based building materials.
Chlorine Bleach Is
Active Ingredient in New Mold & Mildew Products.
The appearance of new mold and mildew household products on store shelves is on the rise. Most are dilute solutions of laundry bleach. The labels on these mold and mildew products state that they are for use on (again) hard, non-porous surfaces and not for wood-based materials. Instructions where not to apply the products are varied. A few examples where the branded products should not be applied include wood or painted surfaces, aluminum products, metal (including stainless steel), faucets, marble, natural stone, and, of course, carpeting, fabrics and paper. One commercial mold and mildew stain remover even specifically states it should not be applied to porcelain or metal without immediate rinsing with water and that the product isn’t recommended for use on formica or vinyl.
Before purchasing a mold and mildew product, read and fully understand the advertised purpose of that product — and correctly follow the use instructions of a purchased product. The labeling claims on these new products can be confusing — some say their product is a mold and mildew remover while another says their product is a mildew stain remover and yet others make similar 'ambiguous' claims. Make double sure that the product satisfies your intended need on the surface to which it is to be applied. If your intention is to kill mold, make sure the product does exactly that and follow the directions for usage. Consumers may find that mixing their own diluted bleach solution will achieve the same results when used on surfaces recommended by manufacturers of commericial mold and mildew cleaning products — keep in mind that the use of chlorine bleach is not for use on mold infected wood products including wall board, ceiling tiles, wall studs, fabric, paper products, etc.
Laundry bleach is not an effective mold killing agent for wood-based building materials and NOT EFFECTIVE in the mold remediation process. OSHA is the first federal agency to announce a departure from the use of chlorine bleach in mold remediation. In time, other federal, state and other public safety agencies are expected to follow OSHA’s lead. The public should be aware, however, that a chlorine bleach solution IS an effective sanitizing product that kills mold on hard non porous surfaces and neutralizes indoor mold allergens that trigger allergies.
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