Mold is an omnipresent fact of life, being the single most common form of fungi on the planet. No matter where you are, indoors or outdoors, mold spores are always in the air, serving as a natural means to recycle dead organic matter so that new life can grow. Most of the time, these spores are completely harmless and pose no threat due to low concentration and natural air circulation. However, when conditions are right for mold to breed in confined areas, they can pose a serious health hazard to living things around them.
Mold can only grow when certain factors in the environment prove to be conductive for them. One, mold requires moisture in order to grow; two, the surrounding area needs to be within a certain temperature range (which just so happens to be the same range humans live in); and finally, mold needs a surface to feed off of. Since mold draws its nutrients from carbon, this more or less means mold can grow nearly everywhere, given these conditions. However, because mold requires a lot of moisture in order to thrive, they tend to grow in environments where water flows regularly or excessively. Without this source of moisture, mold is quickly eliminated from the picture.
Keep in mind that while the common perception of mold is that it is toxic, this is not always necessarily the case. The vast majority of molds are actually non-toxic, although the adverse effects vary depending on the type of mold it is. The three major groups of molds are as follows:
These types of molds do not cause health hazards to humans, and are relatively low on the threat level. They tend to cause allergic reactions, but only in people who are already prone to allergies or asthma. Reactions are generally on the milder end of the scale, resulting in eye and nose irritation, rashes, and itchy throats. Because these types of molds are ever-present, the best course of action is to simply ensure that moisture levels in an area remain under a certain humidity so that they are not allowed a chance to grow.
Pathogenic molds can cause some form of health issue, mostly commonly through respiratory infection or upon physical contact. In many cases, healthy individuals will not be affected regardless of the concentration of mold spores in the region. However, individuals who are not quite as healthy can suffer severe health problems. These individuals can include the elderly, children, and those already sick from other respiratory conditions such as penumonia or bronchitis.
While the most popularized toxic mold is "black mold", this is actually a broad term that includes both harmful and non-harmful types of mold. Toxigenic molds is a wide category that includes all colors of molds under one common trait: they are extremely dangerous and can cause serious health issues in all individuals. Toxic molds are fortunately very rare, but knowing the exact type of mold without proper lab testing is next to impossible.
Since mold can be a common aftereffect in water damage scenarios, particularly ones where water has been seeping for a while or has wicked into the walls, mold inspection and testing in these cases is crucial to maintaining a safe household. In less severe situations, mold can still be present in portions of a residence that go unnoticed. If you suspect mold may be growing in your house, the proper step to take is to call a professional mold inspector to have all potential areas of your home checked out in order to avert long-term health damage.
Superior Restoration is a full-service water damage restoration firm serving all of Southern California, providing mold inspection and remediation service.