10 Mold Facts

Mold is everywhere, we encounter it multiple times a day. But what do you really know about mold? Read further to learn mold facts you should know.

1. There are over 100,000 types of mold in the world.

Overall, there are over 100,000 types of mold that exist. Not every type of mold is dangerous or toxic to humans, in fact there are some we can even eat (see number 5).

2. The most common type of indoor mold is Aspergillus.

Aspergillus is the most common type of indoor mold. Aspergillus isn’t dangerous to humans with healthy, strong immune systems but can be dangerous to those who are immune compromised. In fact, it can lead to a disease called Aspergillosis. 

3. Penicillin comes from mold.

Penicillium mold naturally produces penicillin which is a commonly used antibiotic. Penicillin is commonly used for bacterial infections.

4. Mold can grow anywhere.

Anywhere there is moisture, mold can grow. Mold can grow in your bathrooms, bedrooms, on your food and more.

5. There are types of mold you can eat!

There are mold that we as humans ingest and even enjoy. One of those being blue cheese, a lot of cheeses also contain penicillium candidum which produces the hard shell on soft cheeses.

Pictured here is blue cheese, a type of mold.

6. Mold spores become a problem when they encounter moisture.

Mold spores are everywhere but they don’t become dangerous until they meet moisture. This could be in your home, or in your food.

7. Black mold is actually called Stachybotrys Chartarum.

Black mold is probably the type of mold you hear about most often. It’s scientific name is Stachybotrys Chartarum. Most symptoms of black mold exposure are associated with a respiratory response.

8. Mold can grow as fast 24 to 48 hours.

If you have a flood, pipe burst, etc. in your home, mold can come in as fast as 24-48 hours later. 

9. Painting over mold doesn’t kill it.

Painting over mold is like putting a band aid on a gunshot, it’s a temporary solution. Instead, do a proper cleaning.

10. Reducing humidity indoors decreases mold growth.

If you are having trouble with mold growing in your home, try reducing the humidity in your house by 30%-60%. You can get fans, dehumidifiers, leave doors open, etc. 

Mold Management

Mold is always present in the indoor and outdoor environment.  We want the indoor environment to have less than the outdoor. In some special cases we want it to be much less.  Indoor mold can be visible or hidden behind surfaces. Some species are more dangerous than others, some points in the life cycle of a mold species are more dangerous. Some building occupants are more sensitive to mold than others. There are no absolute levels of airborne mold that represent a regulatory standard. All of these factors make mold a difficult management topic.

Mold needs food, water, and a comfortable temperature. The only variable we can control is moisture.  Building materials are the food and facilities comfortable to occupants prove the proper temperature. Some materials that once prevented mold (lead paint) represent even worse health risks.

Mold Management

The first step in mold management, then, is to control humidity and sources of moisture. Unwanted, uncontrolled moisture sources are the first thing to find and correct if mold issues are suspected or identified.

If visible mold is present, then you have to address it. Some materials, like drywall, may be impossible to clean and therefore must be replaced while other materials can be cleaned and disinfected. Containment, engineering controls, and personal protection will be necessary for larger clean-up projects.

A building occupant may be hypersensitive to mold. Their sensitivity may not be due solely to the mold exposure. For example, they may have other allergies (food, for example) that build up toxins to a level difficult for their body to process, so the mold is like the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back. Other occupants may have compromised health due to other conditions that render them very sensitive to mold. Air sampling to identify or quantify a mold issue may be inconclusive for these addressing the needs of these individuals. Humans can be more sensitive than the instruments and sampling methods available to us.

With few scientific or regulatory absolutes with mold issues, public relations take on a higher significance. Simple responsiveness is the first step, and management understanding the sensitivity variables mentioned above will help keep responsiveness from getting sidetracked.  Proper management of the building envelope, HVAC systems, and other systems like plumbing that can contribute to mold problems is also important.

Air Monitoring

Air monitoring of indoor and outdoor mold concentrations can help management understand the general conditions and help occupants understand that the complete absence of mold and mold allergens is impossible. It is possible to go to the additional step of analyzing the difference between indoor and outdoor species if more information is needed.

Air monitoring outside containment during mold remediation projects can provide assurance to building occupants that their exposures are low and can help monitor the quality and care of the mold remediation team. Once again, there are no absolute standards for concentrations, just concentrations relative to outdoor or background interior levels.

In a typical mold response, the presence of visible mold represents enough information to take action. In special circumstances, such as complaints about especially toxic mold species, identifying the species of mold would be valuable to interpret health responses or, depending on the results, to reassure building occupants. Of course, this extra investigative step is an additional expense.

Most states do not have a licensing program for mold consultants or clean-up contractors. Thus, it is important to check credentials and references before selecting a vendor. For a large or visible project, securing third party oversight is a prudent course of action to get the best possible job.

When dealing with other environmental hazards like asbestos lead or paint, once you thoroughly cleaned up, they don't come back. Even when you thoroughly clean mold, there is a possibility it can come back. Ongoing vigilance and proper building maintenance will be necessary after the completion of a successful mold clean-up project.

META and Mold

META Environmental provides mold training and consulting services.  We can train in-house staff or a preferred contractor in remediation.  We provide program consultation, investigations (both moisture mapping and mold), and project design, oversight, and management.