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If water damage to your home or business isn’t bad enough, the lasting effects can be devastating. Mold is a huge potential problem after such disasters. Mold can cause severe skin irritations, wheezing/ coughing & nasal stuffiness.
The truth is there really is black mold – nearly 20,000 species. The truth is Stachybotrys, the “toxic black mold” that most are aware of, is not always toxic. The truth is, none of the million-plus mold species are always toxic. Another truth is that mycotoxins, while real, are one of the lesser of the several evils of mold.
The only two things you know for sure when you see “black mold” is you have mold &, that it is black in color. Scientifically, there is no mold genera or species that is called “black mold”. Of the million-plus species of mold, about 20,000 species are black in color. Most species appear green, brown, orange, white, or even pink. Stachybotrys, a common type of mold thought to be the most toxic, is actually a greenish-black in color but can be white or a slight pink color depending on the environment it is growing in and the food it “eats.” Mold of any color can be “toxic” under the right conditions, so using color as a red flag is a bad idea.
Mold Myths Exposed
Your house should be completely free of mold.
Mold spores are part of the natural environment, and are all around us inside & outside our homes.. It would be virtually impossible to remove every mold spore from your home. Mold is only an issue when its concentration reaches unhealthy levels, typically as large, visible colonies.
Mold is harmless.
While you can’t completely remove mold from your home, allowing it to grow unchecked is not a good options either. The health effects of mold are still unclear, and depend a person to person basis. But there’s absolutely no question that mold can and will damage your personal belongings if allowed to grow on them.
“Black mold” and “toxic mold” are very dangerous.
This is mostly untrue. First, most molds called “black” are really very dark green, and are not the Stachybotrys mold that can be associated with health effects. Second, “toxic mold” is a misnomer often used by the media. Some mold spores produce toxins and only under certain circumstances. And if they are producing toxins, it’s unlikely that most people could inhale enough mold in their home to get a “toxic” dose. Everyone’s body reacts different to exposure, if you are concerned have a certified professional check your home for possible growth.
Once you’ve killed mold, the removal is optional.
The allergens in mold are still present and can become airborne even when mold is dead. After you or a mold remediation specialist has killed mold in your home, it should be fully removed.
Bleach kills mold.
Bleach can kill certain kinds of mold on nonporous surfaces. However, it is unclear if it kills all kinds of mold on every type of surface. In particular, its effectiveness on porous surfaces like wood is still very much in question.
FACTS about Mold:
What is mold?
The term “mold” is a term for a group of filamentous fungi that are common on food or wet materials. This includes the green Penicillium species that produces penicillin, and, fungi that spoil our edibles. Most of these are Ascomycetes that produce a lot of spores.
The majority of the molds that grow on damp building materials are found in the soil and are adapted to grow on a variety of materials. Outdoor molds live in the soil, on plants, and on dead or decaying matter. There are thousands of species of mold and they can be any color. Different mold species are adapted to different moisture conditions ranging from very wet to just damp. Many times, mold can be detected by a musty odor. Live spores act like seeds, forming new mold growths or, “colonies”, under the right conditions. All of us are exposed to a variety of fungal spores daily in the air we breathe, both outdoors and indoors.
How mold gets into a house or building
Mold spores occur naturally outdoors, where fungi are the earth’s most important recyclers. Indoors, mold needs moisture to grow; it becomes a problem only where there is water damage, elevated and prolonged humidity, or dampness. Common sources of excessive indoor moisture that can lead to mold problems include: flooding from surface waters such as, overflowing river/ weather storms, Leaking roof of a home or business or, even blocked gutters. storm rain through windows, exterior walls or doors. Leaking pipes, sewer overflows, damp basements/ crawl spaces and, condensation on cold surfaces.
How to prevent mold growth
The key to preventing and stopping indoor mold growth is to control moisture and condensation. Keeping areas in the home clean and dry is critical. In general, mold will not grow indoors without water, dampness or moisture.
Three main factors contribute to condensation of water on building surfaces:
Condensation occurs when the air is saturated with water and it cannot hold any more moisture. For example, steam generated from bathroom showers or from cooking can fill up the air with moisture, which will then condense into drops of water on cooler surfaces, such as mirrors and windows. Where possible, sources of humidity, such as clothes dryers, should be directly vented to the outdoors. To lower indoor humidity during warm, humid weather, air conditioners should be used. In damp areas such as basements, it is often recommended that dehumidifiers be used to maintain humidity levels below 60 percent.
Warm air holds more moisture than cold air. Condensation occurs when warm humid air comes into contact with a cold surface and the moisture condenses into water. This can often be seen on windows, where water condenses and then runs down, causing the wood frames to rot and the wall under the windows to swell. Condensation can occur on exterior walls if they are not properly insulated. Other surfaces, such as cold water pipes, should be covered with insulation to help prevent condensation.
Indoor humidity can build up if there is not enough ventilation. Where there is little or no air movement, surfaces can remain cooler than surrounding areas, which can lead to increased condensation causing mold growth. It is recommended that the area be ventilated and the occupants use exhaust fans to remove moisture from high-humidity areas. Furniture should be moved slightly away from walls so that air can freely pass behind it. Air should be allowed to circulate between rooms and ventilate to remove humid air. Fans should be used as needed.
Other things that can be done are to clean and repair gutters regularly, make sure the ground slopes down and away from the home’s foundation and keep air conditioner drip pans and drain lines clean. In the case of floods or leaking pipes, any standing water should be promptly removed & water damaged areas should either be dried out and cleaned, or removed and replaced. Porous materials that are wet for more than 48 hours are likely to produce mold growth and should be discarded. In situations where the water damage is extensive, it is recommended that professional help, such as a commercial restoration company, be consulted.
Top 5 Household Molds-
A large spore mold that can deposit in the nose, mouth and upper respiratory tract causing an allergic response. Indoors, it is often found in carpets, textiles,
house dust and potentially damp areas like window frames and showers. It can also be found in plant soil.
Usually found in warmer climates in areas of water damage or extreme dampness. Aspergillus species are also commonly found in house dust. Many species produce mycotoxins which may be associated with disease in humans and some animals. Also found in building materials and in fall leaves and other decomposing matter like compost piles.
The most commonly identified outdoor fungus, but it can easily enter into the house through the HVAC and other airflow entryways. Cladosporium also has an indoor species that grows on textiles, wood and other porous, damp areas. Both indoor and outdoor species are triggers for hay fever and asthma symptoms.
A very common mold known to cause allergies, hay fever and asthma. Species may be found growing on wallpaper, wallpaper glue and decaying fabrics in water-damaged buildings or homes. It is also found in carpet and in interior fiberglass duct insulation. Some species can produce mycotoxins.
Pronounced (stack-ee-BOT-ris), this is an especially toxic black mold that produces airborne toxins (mycotoxins) that can cause serious breathing difficulties, memory and hearing loss, dizziness, flu-like symptoms and bleeding in the lungs. Stachybotrys requires excessive moisture to thrive (usually running water) and is a slimy black mold. Fortunately, of all common household molds, stachybotrys is found least often in homes.
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