Frequently Asked Questions
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What causes mold to develop?
Mold requires nutrients, water, oxygen, and favorable temperatures to grow. Nutrients for mold are present in dead organic material such as wood, paper or fabrics; mold can also derive nutrients from some synthetic products such as paints and adhesives. Mold requires moisture, although some mold species can obtain that moisture from moist air when the relative humidity is above 70 percent. Many molds thrive at normal indoor temperatures; few if any molds are able to grow below 40 F or above 100 F. Outside this range molds may remain dormant or inactive; they may begin to grow again when the temperature is more favorable. Temperatures well above 100 F will kill mold and mold spores, but the exact temperature required to kill specific species is not well established.
Are there harmful and non-harmful molds?
There are only a few molds that can cause infection in healthy humans. Some molds cause infections only in people with compromised immune systems. The biggest health problem from exposure to mold is allergy and asthma in susceptible people. There are more than 100,000 types of mold. Good information has been developed for only a small number of these molds – at least in terms of their effects on human health. Most people tolerate exposure to moderate levels of many different molds without any apparent adverse health effects.
Some molds produce powerful chemicals called "mycotoxins" that can produce illness in animals and people. Scientific knowledge about the health effects of these toxins on humans is quite limited.
Does mold affect everyone the same way?
No. Some individuals have a genetic makeup that puts them at risk for developing allergies to mold. People who have an allergy to mold, especially if they also have asthma, can become ill from exposure to a small amount of mold. Individuals also seem to be quite different in their response to exposure to the toxic chemicals that some molds release. These differences between individuals contribute to the difficult question of determining safe exposure limits for mold.
How much mold exposure is harmful?
No one knows the answer to this question for several reasons. Individuals are very different with respect to the amount of mold exposure they can tolerate. Children under the age of one year may be more susceptible to the effects of some molds than older individuals. Measuring or estimating "exposure" levels is very difficult. "Exposure" means the amount of mold (microscopic spores and mold fragments) that gets into a person usually by breathing, but also by eating or absorption through the skin. For example, a building may have a lot of mold in the walls, but very little of that mold is getting into the air stream. In that case, the people working or living in that building would have little mold exposure.
Does tighter building construction promote mold development?
Tighter building construction does not by itself promote mold growth, but tight construction combined with some poor choices in design, building materials or operations can increase the probability of mold growth. What do we mean? The tighter the building construction, the less air exchange there is between the inside air and the outside air. Whatever gets into the inside air stays there longer than it would in a house with loose construction. Moisture that gets into the air from activities such as cooking, bathing and even breathing will remain in a tight house longer than it would in a loose house. That's why exhaust fans should be installed in bathrooms and kitchens and vented to the outside. Clothes dryers should also be vented to the outside.
Tight construction permits control of the air exchange between the inside and the outside and can prevent the deposition of moisture in walls and roofs. Controlling moisture, including indoor relative humidity, is the key to preventing mold growth. Tight building construction when combined with source control of moisture (exhaust fans) and controlled ventilation (intentional introduction of outside air) reduces the probability of mold growth in a building. Controlled ventilation can be provided by a duct that brings outside air to the return side of the air handler of a forced air system. A timing device or fan cycler can be programmed to have the air handler turn on for a specified number of minutes each hour even when there is no call for heating or cooling. In cold climates, controlled ventilation is frequently provided by a heat recovery ventilator (HRV).
How can I prevent mold growth?
Controlling excess moisture is the key to preventing and stopping indoor mold growth. Keeping susceptible areas in the home clean and dry is very important. Ventilate or use exhaust fans (vented to the outdoors) to remove moisture where it accumulates, particularly in bathrooms, kitchens, and laundry areas. Clothes dryers should be vented to the outside. Repair water leaks promptly, and either dry out and clean or replace water-damaged materials. Materials that stay wet for more than 48 hours are likely to produce mold growth. Lowering humidity indoors helps prevent condensation problems. To lower humidity during humid weather, use air conditioners and dehumidifiers. Proper exterior wall insulation helps prevent condensation from forming inside during cold weather.
Is it possible to completely eliminate mold from the inside of a home or office building?
The answer depends upon what is meant by "completely eliminate mold." To keep a building completely free of mold spores requires very efficient air filtration and is only accomplished in special situations such as hospital operating rooms and manufacturing "clean rooms." Remember, mold spores are in the outside air virtually all the time, and some of them will get inside buildings.
However, it is possible to keep mold from growing inside a building. Moisture control is the key to controlling mold in interior spaces. Air filtration can contribute to lowering mold spores in the air but is secondary to moisture control.
Should I use bleach to get rid of mold?
No. Although bleach will kill and decolorize mold, it does not remove mold. Dead mold can still cause allergic reactions. It is not necessary to kill mold to remove mold. Soap and water and scrubbing can remove mold from hard surfaces. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and the New York City Health Department agree that bleach or other biocides should not routinely be used to clean up mold.
What are some of the most common molds found in buildings?
Common molds found in buildings are: Cladosporium, Aspergillus, Penicillium, and Alternaria are all considered toxic. Stachybotrys, Fusarium, Trichoderma produce mycotoxins easily absorbed into skin, intestinal lining, airways and lungs.
What is “black mold”?
When the news media often refers to “black mold” or “toxic black mold.” It is usually associated with Stachybotrys chartarum, a type of mold commonly associated with heavy water damage. Not all molds that appear to be black are Stachybotrys. The known health effects from exposure to Stachybotrys are similar to other common molds, but have been inconclusively associated with more severe health effects in some people
Who do I call to deal with mold growth in my home or building?
A professional experienced in mold evaluation and remediation may be needed to address extensive mold growth in a building. It is important to correct mold problems as soon as possible. Please see our "Remediation Steps" page for more on this issue.
What related companies in Florida can I contact to help me solve my mold problem?
For Testing and Scope of Work :
If You Need A Third Party Inspector:
Aerostar Environmental Services, Inc.
For Duct Cleaning: