Introduction to mold
Molds are simple, microscopic organisms, present virtually everywhere - indoors and outdoors. For molds to grow and reproduce, they need only a food source - any organic material, such as leaves, wood, paper, or dirt - and moisture. When excessive moisture or water accumulates indoors, mold growth will often occur, particularly if the moisture problem remains undiscovered or un-addressed. To reproduce, molds release countless tiny spores, which waft through the indoor and outdoor air continually. When mold spores land on a damp spot indoors, they may begin growing and digesting whatever they are growing on.
How does mold affect people?
For those sensitive to molds, exposure to mold spores can cause symptoms such as nasal stuffiness, eye irritation, wheezing, or skin irritation, amongst other things. Some people, such as those with serious allergies to molds, may have more severe reactions, like fever and shortness of breath. Those with chronic lung illnesses, such as obstructive lung disease, may develop mold infections in their lungs. Molds can also trigger asthma episodes, so people with asthma should avoid contact with or exposure to molds.
Also, because mold digests whatever it grows on, objects exposed to it - carpets, paintings or expensive furniture,
just to name a few - can eventually get destroyed. A mold patch settled in the foundations of a building can gradually weaken them to the point when walls start cracking and crumbling apart.
How can I tell if my house has mold?
You may suspect that you have mold if you see discolored patches or cottony or speckled growth on walls or furniture or if you smell an earthy or musty odor. You also may suspect mold contamination if mold-allergic individuals experience some of the symptoms listed above when in the house. Evidence of past or ongoing water damage should also trigger more thorough inspection.
Be on the lookout in your home for common sources of indoor moisture that may lead to mold problems:
|FloodingLeaky roofsPlumbing leaks
||Overflow from sinks or sewersDamp basement or crawl space
Steam from shower or cooking|
Page last modified: 01/16/07
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