1. Q: Can mold make people sick?
A: Excessive mold spores indoors can trigger allergic reactions, breathing disorders, and asthma attacks. Mold spores can become elevated indoors when mold grows on surfaces or when insufficient ventilation or filtration is available to remove mold that comes in from outdoors. Mold can cause adverse health effects, whether the mold is alive or dead. This is the reason why mold growth should be cleaned up by professionals. If microscopic mold spores are spread throughout the indoors, people can react long after mold is improperly removed.
2. Q: Are some molds more dangerous than others?
A: Any mold can be dangerous if an individual has developed sensitivities to it. However, some molds that produce toxins are considered by many doctors to be more dangerous than others. Some or the molds that produce dangerous toxins include Stachybotrys, Aspergillus, Trichoderma, and Penicillium. These molds are most commonly found indoors when water damage occurs. Without the competition of molds that thrive better outdoors, these molds thrive indoors on wet wood, drywall, and other building materials.
3. Q: If mold spores are always present in the outdoor air, why should I be so worried about mold indoors?
A: The most common type of outdoor mold is Cladosporium, which grows on decayed vegetation. This mold is generally not associated with adverse health as are the types of mold that thrive indoors.
4. Q: Hasn’t mold always been around? Why are we so worried about it now?
A: Tight construction is one reason people react more to mold than they used to. With tighter construction, molds can be trapped indoors, increasing exposures. Additionally, medical knowledge has increased and doctors have found that some of the previously unexplained illnesses, such as fibromyalgia and other auto-immune disorders, are triggered by mold and mold toxin exposure.
5. Q: Visible mold is present on walls in my home. Should I have the mold tested?
A: Testing of mold is generally not necessary unless a doctor needs the information to assist with diagnosis, litigation is involved, or additional information is needed to develop a mold removal (remediation) plan. The methods for removal of mold growth are the same for all types of mold.
6. Q: How do I get rid of mold growing on drywall in my home?
A: If the mold covers more than 10 square feet, a professional mold remediation company should be contacted. However, even if one square foot of mold is visible on the surface, it is necessary to investigate further as there may be a more serious underlying problem.
The mold must be removed under controlled conditions to prevent mold spores from being transported throughout the indoors. The underlying cause of moisture must also be corrected. A qualified contractor wearing personal protective equipment will set up containment barriers and filtration before removing the mold.
7. Q: Will putting a more efficient filter on our furnace get rid of mold?
A: Up to 40% of air flows through the ductwork. To make the filter more efficient, the whole home should be evaluated for ventilation, air flow, and make-up air.
Filtration only removes mold spores from the air stream. Efficient filtration is great for controlling mold that enters from outdoors. If a source of mold growth is present, mold spores will continually be released into the air. Therefore, remediation must be performed to remove the source.
8. Q: What is Black Mold?
A: While there are hundreds of molds that are black in color, the term “black mold” generally is used in reference to Stachybotrys: a very black shiny mold that grows on very wet drywall, particle board, ceiling tiles, wood, and oriented strand board (OSB). Because Stachybotrys produces potent toxins that some medical experts have attributed to serious illnesses, including neurological disorders, excessive bleeding, gastrointestinal disorders, and inflammation, it has received more notoriety than other types of mold.
9. Q: We are putting our home up for sale and wonder if we should have it inspected now or wait for the buyers to hire an inspector.
A: Many times an offer is removed or the offer is reduced when a buyer’s inspector identifies mold growth. Many times, the problem is easily fixed without spending a lot of money. However, identifying the mold and correcting it before putting the home on the market can only avoid costly delays. Of course disclosure of the mold is required. However, provided documentation is available that the mold has been removed by a reputable contractor and the home’s asset value is protected.
Please note: A buyer’s home inspection and mold inspection are very different. Buyer’s home inspection looks at structure and mechanical function. Mold Inspection looks for mold growth, source of moisture, any water intrusion.
10. Q: Several of my co-workers and I have developed skin rashes and coughs that we do not experience when out of the office. What is our best course of action?
A: Your work place might be suffering from “Sick Building Syndrome” (SBS) or Building Related Illness (BRI). BRI is a specific illness or set of symptoms resulting from exposure to a known material. Legionnaire’s disease, which is caused by the bacterium, Legionella, is an example of a BRI.
In contrast, SBS is a term that denotes an excessive occurrence of adverse health and comfort complaints that are linked to time spent within a building. In most cases of suspected SBS, a direct cause for the IAQ problem cannot be identified. Symptoms associated with SBS generally include runny noses, coughs, sore throats, eye irritation, and lethargy.
An Indoor Air Quality Assessment should be performed in the building. The IAQ assessment should include a detailed visual inspection as well as data collection to assess ventilation and contaminant sources.
11. Q: Under what circumstances might indoor testing for mold be recommended?
A: The following circumstances warrant mold sampling:
- To assist physicians in diagnosing illnesses.
- To define a remediation scope. An example would be testing to determine if spores traveled outside of an area of known water damage or visible growth.
- Comparison of pre and post remediation when litigation is involved.
- Confirm suspect growth in areas of staining or water damage.
- Evaluate potential contamination prior to real estate transactions.
- Comparisons of complaint and non-complaint areas of a building.
- Litigation issues relative to construction defects, contractor negligence, insurance disputes, and non-disclosure in real estate transactions.