From a burst pipe to flooding from a natural disaster, water and dampness in a home can cause a number of issues, including exposure to mold.
A major concern following water intrusion in a structure is growth of this unwanted fungus. This is especially true with higher humidity levels. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend a humidity level of no higher than 50 percent.
Temperature also affects the growth of mold. Ideal growth conditions are 68 degrees to 86 degrees. Couple this with humidity and the length of time the structure was exposed to standing water, and you have a recipe for mold.
Molds are all around us. They’re found in many environments, both inside and outside. However, fungus only becomes an issue when it begins to grow prolifically inside an occupied structure.
While there are thousands of types of molds found, the CDC recognizes a handful of common indoor molds found in America.
Types of Mold
The most commonly found include:
The most common indoor and outdoor mold. It ranges in color from olive-green to brown to black. The airborne spores are considered a significant allergen, and in large amounts can severely impact people with asthma and other respiratory diseases. Other health issues associated with Cladosporium include infections of the skin, toenails, sinuses and lungs.
This mold is important in the natural environment, as well as in food and drug production. The antibiotic penicillin is derived from this mold. It is often green in color. There are no reported health impacts from this type.
This is the source of common allergens in humans. Alternaria causes hay fever or hypersensitivity reactions that sometimes lead to asthma. They easily lead to opportunistic infections in immunocompromised people such as AIDS patients. A number of human health disorders can be caused by these fungi, which grow on skin and mucous membranes, including on the eyeballs and within the respiratory tract. Alternaria have colony growth in green, black or gray colors.
This form causes a range of diseases, such as infection of the external ear, skin lesions and ulcers classed as mycetomas are found. This variation is a major component of mildew. Aspergillus causes a group of diseases called Aspergillosis. The most common sinus infections associated with aspergillosis is A. fumigatus. The symptoms include fever, cough, chest pain or breathlessness, which also occur in many other illnesses, making diagnosis difficult. Usually, patients with weakened immune systems or who suffer other lung conditions are susceptible. This classification of mold grows in white, green and yellow colors.
While these molds are commonly found in the environment, there is another mold that causes a host of health issues and is typically found following a natural disaster such a major flooding or hurricanes. This mold is known as black mold. These strains, S. chartarum (previously known as S. atra) and S. chlorohalonata, frequently appear in structures with poor indoor air quality that arises after fungal growth on water-damaged building materials. While the CDC contends there are no negative health impacts from black mold, there have been numerous reports of health issues such as chronic coughing and sneezing, irritation to the eyes, mucus membranes of the nose and throat, rashes, chronic fatigue and persistent headaches are some of the main reported symptoms.
Where Mold is Found
Mold is found in both indoor and outdoor environments. It can enter your home through open doorways, windows, vents, and heating and air conditioning systems. Mold in the air outside can also attach itself to clothing, shoes, bags and pets, where it is carried indoors.
Mold grows in places where there is a lot of moisture. Sources of moisture include leaks in roofs, windows or pipes, or where flooding occurred. It grows quite well on paper products, cardboard, ceiling tiles and wood products. It can also grow in dust, paints, wallpaper, insulation, drywall, carpet, fabric and upholstery.
Following water intrusion, great care should be taken to rid the home or structure of all moisture and items exposed to water for any period of time. This means removing carpeting, replacing furniture and maintaining a low-humidity environment.
Areas of building structures that experienced water exposure should be thoroughly inspected for mold. Undetected mold can cause a host of issues, specifically with the health of building occupants.
Health Issues Related to Mold
Mold produces microbial volatile organic compounds (mVOCs). The odor produced by mVOCs can be associated with negative mold health symptoms such as headaches, nasal irritation, dizziness, fatigue and nausea.
The CDC recognizes there are people who are sensitive to this fungus. In this population, people experience symptoms such as nasal stuffiness, eye irritation, wheezing or skin irritation. Those with serious allergies to molds may have more severe reactions. Many of these reactions may occur to those workers exposed to large amounts of mold in occupational settings, such as farmers working with and around moldy hay. A severe reaction may include fever and shortness of breath. People with chronic lung illness may develop mold infections in the lungs.
In 2004, the Institute of Medicine found sufficient evidence linking indoor exposure to mold with a variety of respiratory issues in healthy people. These symptoms include coughing and wheezing. For those with asthma and other immune-compromised illnesses, there is exasperated respiratory complications. The Institute of Medicine also discovered suggestive evidence to link indoor exposure and respiratory illness in healthy children.
According to the Mayo Clinic, mold allergies cause the same symptoms found in other types of respiratory allergies. These symptoms include sneezing, runny or stuffy nose, a cough with postnasal drip, itchy eyes, nose and throat, and watery eyes. Symptoms and severity vary from person to person. Symptoms are more noticeable in damp weather or in environments with high concentrations.
How to Get Rid of Mold
Mold thrives in humid, damp conditions, and typically begins to grow on porous surfaces within 24 to 48 hours of exposure to moisture. This includes composting vegetation, leaking pipes or following the intrusion of flood waters or any other type of standing water in a structure. If there has been a water intrusion, it is best to err on the side of caution and assume mold is present.
A typical sign is the presence of spores on surfaces such as walls, ceilings or floors. They typically have a white, green or black appearance, so always investigate suspicion spots or marks in the home. A musty odor is another sign of mold or mildew.
But sometimes it cannot be see readily. Many times after a major water intrusion such as a flood or roof damage during a rain event, water will seep into wood structural components, causing wood rot. Once mold is discovered behind the walls, on wood framing structures, there is usually water rot to that wood and needs to be replaced.
If mold is suspected in the structure, Water Extraction Experts can provide full service mold remediation services. The staff of Water Extraction Experts are trained and fully prepared to deal with mold. They understand that water damage causes property damage and the resulting mold leads to health risks. The goal of Water Extraction Experts is to remove the hazards with minimal disruption to customers and their families.
Key Terms to Know When Dealing with Mold
There are a number of terms used when it comes to dealing with mold. These terms include:
- Air quality – The measurement of pollutants in the air, or a description of the health and safety of the atmosphere.
- Smell or odor – Mold produces microbial volatile organic compounds (mVOCs). These compounds produce a strong or unpleasant odor, which is the source of the moldy or musty smell associated with mold growth.
- Remediation – A process where mold is cleaned and removed from a building, by professional or nonprofessional methods. Mold remediation is necessary when there is significant mold growth present in various areas of a building, including carpets, ceilings and drywall. Typically, mold remediation involves special chemicals and cleaners to remove existing mold and prevent future growth. Bleach water, in addition to a number of detergent solutions are available for mold removal. The goals of mold remediation are to clean or remove the contaminated items and to prevent additional molds from entering the “clean” area. Removal workers should wear protective garb to reduce or prevent mold exposure.
- Mitigation – This involves creating ways to prevent water intrusion into a building. It could including maintaining clean gutters and downspouts, a water-resistant plastic wrap around the exterior of a building under the exterior material, continued maintenance of plumbing and the general exterior of the structure. In the event of a flood event, blocking doors and air vents, waterproofing important areas and using sandbags around the parameter of the building.
Water Extraction Experts is prepared to address any water damage and mold issues 24 hours, seven days a week, for all water removal, water damage, water restoration, mold remediation, and water leak needs, including water extraction and structural drying.
Call now to schedule a mold inspection for your home to make sure you and your family are safe and healthy.
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