Most people worry only about black mold, a toxic greenish-black mold that readily grows from contaminated water sources including flood damage after a severe storm. They assume that black mold is the only type of mold that can be a problem to health and property. Nothing could be further from the truth. Any kind of mold can be toxic, particularly in the elderly, young children and adults of any age who have chronic respiratory problems or allergies. Health problems associated with significant mold exposure include respiratory infections, breathing problems, asthma, allergies, eye irritation, irritation of nose and throat, coughing and headaches.
Whether it is black mold or another type, mold grows rapidly in dark, moist, poorly ventilated areas. Even a single overflow of water from your dishwasher or washing machine can penetrate cabinets, flooring, drywall, and baseboards – areas where it is nearly impossible to dry and dehumidify without specialized equipment. It is in these hidden areas where mold thrives and spreads. Often the only telltale signs of a mold infestation is a musty odor.
Mold damage is also associated with emotional, employment and economic consequences. Dealing with a mold problem is a very stressful experience. For adults, mold-related health problems may lower productivity and result in absences from work or other income-generating activities. Parents may lose work time and/or income when they have to care for children sick from mold-related illnesses. Missed work time, doctor visits and medications for treatment all cost time and money. Besides missing work and school, illnesses from mold exposure negatively impact performance and enjoyment in work, sports, entertainment – all producing a poor quality of life overall. And the health problems worsen as the mold exposure increases in severity.
Although mold by itself does not damage building structures, the impact on property value and resale is catastrophic. No one wants to buy or lease a mold-infested property. When left unaddressed, mold damage increases rapidly as the mold grows and spreads. The costs of replacing building structures and personal property escalates with progressive damage. But nowhere is the cost greater than the decline in property value. A mold-infested property is extremely difficult to sell except at wholesale prices for limited numbers of investors. Declining property value and resale potential produce a great deal of emotional stress. This also takes its toll on health and wellbeing.
How does mold grow?
There are many types of mold. The most worrisome is black mold – a mold that releases mycotoxins that are associated with serious health problems. All types of mold grow and spread from mold spores which are everywhere. They readily travel through doors, windows and infiltrate HVAC systems. But unless the right conditions exist, mold will not grow from these spores. The growth of mold requires warm, moist, humid conditions with poor ventilation. Mold grows rapidly within 48-72 hours after a flood or other improperly contained water damage event. In that amount of time, a significant mold problem can start and spread throughout a property. Often there is an associated musty odor that may be the only sign if mold is hidden behind building structures, flooring, and furnishings.
When mold is present in high enough quantities, it becomes an infestation. If not properly contained and eliminated, any mold infestation can pose serious threats to health and property. It is for that reason that any mold infestation should be managed by professional mold remediation services.
What should I do if I suspect a mold problem?
When mold is visible and growing along ceilings, walls, baseboards or furnishings, a mold problem is evident. What isn’t know is the type of mold and extent of mold damage that is hidden behind building structures, flooring and other surfaces. Any mold problem should be evaluated by IICRC certified mold remediation specialists or a licensed and ACAC Certified Indoor Environmentalist company. An immediate action is to remove people and pets from the area of concern and turn off HVAC systems that can disperse mold spores. Homeowners should also avoid handling or disturbing the mold, or attempting to clean it up with disinfectants or bleach.
What is black mold?
Black mold is a greenish-black fungus. Common in flood-damaged properties and with contaminated water, black mold produces mycotoxins that are associated with allergies, headaches, eye, nose and throat irritation, coughing, headaches and respiratory illnesses including asthma. The elderly, children and people with respiratory problems are at greater risk from black mold exposure.
When is mold dangerous?
Regardless of the type of mold, all mold becomes dangerous when it multiples into colonies from ideal mold growth conditions. This generally occurs within 24-48 hours after water damage. Conditions that favor mold growth include a substantial or persistent source of water or moisture where the environment is dark and poorly ventilated. The source can be flooding from severe weather, a sewer backup, broken appliance, burst pipe or a leaking roof, plumbing leak or high humidity event.
Should I buy a mold testing kit?
Although mold testing kits are available, they provide limited information about the type and extent of mold. These kits are useful in determining whether a mold problem exists. Reliable and accurate mold inspection and testing are performed by a licensed and ACAC Certified Indoor Environmentalist company. This analysis prior to mold remediation is extremely valuable in documenting the source and type of mold, the extent of mold contamination, and for making mold cleanup recommendations based on nationally accepted industry standards such as S-520 and S-500.
What is mold remediation?
Mold remediation is a multi-step process that identifies and eliminates the mold source, prevents the spread of mold spores, decontaminates affected building structures and personal property, removes the mold and restores the property to its pre-loss condition. In areas where mold has penetrated porous or absorbent surfaces such as carpets, drywall, cabinets, counter-tops, wallpaper and ceiling tiles; affected materials are removed and discarded.
Mold remediation is performed by professionals who have special training and equipment for eliminating mold through special cleaning methods or protocols defined in IICRC certifications. These protocols use containment methods to prevent the release and spread of mold spores during the cleanup. Mold remediation is recommended when black mold is present and when there is a mold infestation where mold will continue to spread. Armstrong has multiple IICRC certifications that assure compliance with protocols for water damage repairs and mold remediation.
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