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Mold: Myths, Facts and Solutions

7/5/2018 (Permalink)

Great example of mold visibility and level of actual damage

Mold is everywhere. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news. That said, mold is not always bad. Many molds we embrace, and some of us even eat types of mold as delicacies. Yeast, Mushrooms and Blue Cheese are great examples of molds we embrace and which are widely consumed.  In addition to those, many types of mold are used in hospitals every day to fight and ward off infections - these include Penicillin, Lovastatin, Cyclosporine and many more. We also find ourselves in contact with mold every time we go outdoors - most of this mold is harmless and does nothing to us. Mold becomes dangerous and potentially harmful when it occurs in enclosed spaces with reduced circulation and a moist environment. There are specific types of mold that produce spores known as Mycotoxin - these are the ones you do not want around. That being said, there are some myths about how to handle, clean and remove mold should you find it within your home. 

Let us take a look at the top 8 myths:

Mold is natural so you do not have to worry about it.

If you only see a little bit of mold it is nothing to worry about it.

There should be no mold inside.

All mold is bad.

All mold causes health problems.

Bleach Kills mold.

Killing mold is enough I do not have to remove it.

Cleaning up mold is not that hard you can do it yourself.

WOW! Ok, that is a lot of information and very contradictory information at that. We have already debunked the idea that all molds are bad but what about the rest? While mold is a naturally occurring substance that does aid in decay it does not make it safe all the time. As we stated, it is the type of mold that can be damaging not only to the air but also to any building or area that it is found in. This is due to the way it feeds - mold must absorb nutrients from the organism rather than directly eating it.

When you can actually see the mold, you have a much larger problem. Mold likes warm moist areas to live and all too often these are places that go undisturbed for extended periods of time. When you can see the mold it is like an iceberg -the majority of it lives below the surface. When you open a container of fruit that was in the back of the refrigerator, what you see is contained inside a sealed area. Your home attic, basement or forgotten closet is not quite as contained.

This is not to say that no mold should be inside a home at all. Mold is everywhere and all around you but acceptable levels and safe types of mold are the focus here. When an area is given ripe conditions for growing mold is where problems arise. Your health along with any allergies will determine how much mold you can tolerate within the environment. No one has set specific levels however. There are a great number of contributing factors that come into play. Central heating and cooling for example allow for rapid air flow which can circulate spores faster as well create more airborne particles more likely to be breathed in than those that are not.

Having already determined that not all mold is bad, let us examine what happens to your health when you do come into contact with mold. First and foremost, it does not mean you will get sick. Just like anything else, there are varying degrees. For example, if you are very sensitive to the environment, already sick, or have severe allergies to other things, this could lead to a more intense reaction to mold spores. This does not mean a lack of a reaction means the mold is safe and does not need treated - if left untreated, it will continue to grow and can quickly become out of control.

So how do you get rid of it? Bleach right? WRONG! Understanding basic science helps here. Bleach is meant for topical treatments and does not soak into materials. Bleach is also very strong and can damage many surfaces that it comes into contact with. So anything porous gets a good cleaning from the surface could be ruined and you still have mold. Mold does not live on the surface of materials which we already discussed. It is a deep down organism and it needs the same to combat it. Concrobium (commercial grade) is a product that has these properties. It gets through the surface deep down into the materials, finds the mold spores, wraps itself around them and crushes them as it dries. While doing so, the anti-microbial barrier remains on the surface to protect against future mold growth. Bleach dries and evaporates. Remember mold is under surfaces just like the iceberg.

Ok, so you can go to the store and get some of that and are all set right? Well not exactly. Just wiping down a surface with the Concrobium is not enough. What caused the mold to grow in the first place? Did you use a scope and look behind the walls, get into the attic, or crawl space and see what was going on? Did you stop the problem? Did you remove the ruined insulation? What was the insulation rating, how thick was it and what did you do to replace it? How about that wall that is covered from the back? Were you able to get it all wiped and cleaned... wait, what about the front of the wall, the pretty part? Did you spray and wash that down? Did you know that the middle part of the wall has a membrane that most moisture can not get through which is why you only saw it on the back of the wall...how do you access that? This is why you do not just wipe it down and move on.

Killing the spores that are there does not mean you still do not have a problem. If some of the spores were disturbed while you were spraying the solution and traveled outside of the treated area, you will have this problem again. If too many of the spores became airborne they can get into vents and duct work and move to other areas of the house or even push down deeper into the materials affected and work from the other side that you may not have treated. Looking behind walls to determine the extent of the damage is important. Many walls and beams can be affected and could need to be replaced. Calling a professional to assist in the proper remediation is the best way to get it taken care of properly.

Myths debunked - Check. Doctor visits are recommended if you suspect you have any issues that could stem from mold. Always call a professional and have them assess the situation before you try and handle it yourself. Be safe out there and make sure you remember - not all mold is bad!

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