Who should test for mold?
Mold spores are common to indoor environments. However, mold growth is not. You will typically
see signs of water intrusion or notice the presence of a musty smell. These are "red flags" of a potential mold problem. This
is not always the case. Especially, if you are buying a home in Florida in the wake of recent hurricanes. If your family members
experience poor health while in the house you may need to test for mold. See your doctor first.
How should you select a mold professional?
There are no license requirements in the State of Florida. We are hoping this will change soon.
In the meantime there are private organizations that certify mold assessment professionals. Be sure to ask for credentials.
Molds in the Environment:
Molds live in the soil, on plants,
and on dead or decaying matter. Outdoors, molds play a key role in the breakdown of leaves, wood, and other plant debris.
Molds belong to the kingdom Fungi, and unlike plants, they lack chlorophyll and must survive by digesting plant materials,
using plant and other organic materials for food. Without molds, our environment would be overwhelmed with large amounts of
dead plant matter.
Molds produce tiny spores to
reproduce, just as some plants produce seeds. These mold spores can be found in both indoor and outdoor air, and
settled on indoor and outdoor surfaces. When mold spores land on a damp spot, they may begin growing and digesting whatever
they are growing on in order to survive. Since molds gradually destroy the things they grow on, you can prevent
damage to building materials and furnishings and save money by eliminating mold growth.
Moisture control is the key to
mold control. Molds need both food and water to survive; since molds can digest most things, water is the factor that
limits mold growth. Molds will often grow in damp or wet areas indoors. Common sites for indoor mold growth include bathroom
tile, basement walls, areas around windows where moisture condenses, and near leaky water fountains or sinks. Common sources
or causes of water or moisture problems include roof leaks, deferred maintenance, condensation associated with high humidity
or cold spots in the building, localized flooding due to plumbing failures or heavy rains, slow leaks in plumbing fixtures, and
malfunction or poor design of humidification systems. Uncontrolled humidity can also be a source of moisture leading
to mold growth, particularly in hot, humid climates.
Health Effects and Symptoms Associated with Mold Exposure:
When moisture problems occur and
mold growth results, building occupants may begin to report odors and a variety of health problems, such as headaches,
breathing difficulties, skin irritation, allergic reactions, and aggravation of asthma symptoms; all of these symptoms could
potentially be associated with mold exposure.
All molds have
the potential to cause health effects. Molds produce allergens, irritants, and in some cases, toxins that may cause reactions
in humans. The types and severity of symptoms depend, in part, on the types of mold present, the extent of an individual's
exposure, the ages of the individuals, and their existing sensitivities or allergies.
Ten Things You Should Know About Mold:
Potential health effects and symptoms
associated with mold exposures include allergic reactions, asthma, and other respiratory complaints.
There is no practical way to eliminate all mold and
mold spores in the indoor environment; the way to control indoor mold growth is to control moisture.
If mold is a problem in your home or school, you must
clean up the mold and eliminate sources of moisture.
Fix the source of the water problem or leak to prevent
Reduce indoor humidity (to 30-60% ) to decrease mold
growth by: venting bathrooms, dryers, and other moisture-generating sources to the outside; using air conditioners and de-humidifiers;
increasing ventilation; and using exhaust fans whenever cooking, dishwashing, and cleaning.
Clean and dry any damp or wet building materials and
furnishings within 24-48 hours to prevent mold growth.
Clean mold off hard surfaces with water and detergent,
and dry completely. Absorbent materials such as ceiling tiles, that are moldy, may need to be replaced.
Prevent condensation: Reduce the potential for condensation
on cold surfaces (i.e., windows, piping, exterior walls, roof, or floors) by adding insulation.
In areas where there is a perpetual moisture problem,
do not install carpeting (i.e., by drinking fountains, by classroom sinks, or on concrete floors with leaks or frequent condensation).
Molds can be found almost anywhere; they can grow
on virtually any substance, providing moisture is present. There are molds that can grow on wood, paper, carpet, and foods.
"A Brief Guide to Mold, Moisture, and Your Home"
What if high levels of mold are found?
Mold only grows with moisture. Stopping the moisture intrusion is the first step to controlling
any mold situation; if the water intrusion is not stopped the mold will return. Most mold problems are not catastrophic, but
should be handled by a professional. No one knows the extent of damage until the contaminated area is exposed. Therefore
all but the smallest problems should be handled in containment with negative HEPA air system operational.
How should I select a mold remediation firm?
There are currently no license requirements for mold remediation in the State of Florida. We
hope this will change soon. There are private organizations that certify individuals.
There is no substitute for experience.
How should clearance testing be performed?
All areas and the ambient space should be tested before reconstruction begins.