What are molds and fungi?
Fungi is one of the Five Kingdoms of living matter on earth. It is a group of microorganisms that includes molds, yeasts and mushrooms. Molds are microscopic fungi that produce spores and in some cases chemicals as they live and grow.
Fungal and mold spores are everywhere in the environment. In fact, all buildings have a background level of spores. However, spores do not colonize and grow into visible mold unless they have moisture. Within a home or building, moisture can be in the form of excessive humidity (e.g., in a bathroom or laundry room), condensation (e.g., resulting from ˜cold spots™ due to poor insulation around windows), or seeping water (e.g., from a leaky roof or pipe).
Rain storms, burst pipes and sewer backups are also common causes of water damage and moisture. In a home that isn™t well ventilated, the moisture will persist and can lead to mold growth.
Why should I be concerned?
Studies by Harvard University have shown that between 40 and 50% of homes in North America have moisture and mold problems serious enough to significantly increase respiratory symptoms among occupants. Particularly susceptible are pregnant women, infants, the elderly, and those with pre-existing health conditions.
Examples of the effects of mold on human health:
- In 1999, the Mayo Clinic concluded that 96% of chronic sinusitis “ sinus infections “ were caused by fungi. Symptoms can include headaches, nose, eye and throat irritation, nosebleeds and coughs, skin irritation and respiratory infections.
- It is estimated that about 20 percent of the human population is allergic to mold spores.
- Mold is also an asthma trigger. In one recent study, household mold was found to increase children™s asthma risk by about 2.5 times.
With North Americans spending on average 90% of their lives indoors, it is easy to understand the growing public concern about the impact on human health.
Furthermore, mold and fungal growth can damage possessions and discolor the walls, floors and ceilings in a home or building. In extreme cases, it can compromise the structural integrity of the building as it eats away at wood and drywall, causing it to disintegrate.
Remediation costs to correct mold problems are significant and growing. According to U.S. insurance industry statistics, the insurance industry paid out $3 billion in mold-related claims in 2002, up from $1.3 billion in 2001.
Given the losses the insurance industry has experienced with mold, there now exists a standard mold, mildew and fungi exclusion in property and commercial liability policies. As a result, homeowners and commercial property owners are often left to address mold problems at their own expense.
Do I have mold in my home?
How do you know if you have mold? In many cases, mold is visible to the naked eye. Mold comes in many colors, shapes and sizes. Mold can be black, white, orange, yellow “ just about any color. It may appear fuzzy or as flat round spots. It may be wet and shiny or may appear dry and powdery.
But you can™t always see the mold in your house “ at least not at first. Because water damage often occurs and pools in wall cavities or under flooring, the mold growing inside your home may not be visible. You may, however, be able to smell it. In many cases, molds emit an earthy smell characteristic of ˜musty™ basements. If you smell it but can™t see it, you may have mold growing under carpets, behind walls, or above ceiling tiles.
When checking for mold, look for signs of water damage. Wet spots, staining, dampness or other evidence of water leaks or damage may be a precursor to mold growth. For a comprehensive guide to surveying your home or business for mold, consult the Air Quality Association or the US Environmental Protection Agency.
If you suspect mold in your home, mold test kits are available to help you test air quality and detect mold. For more information on hcheck™s innovative, do-it-yourself sampling kit please visit http://www.hchek.com/.
What can be done?
When it comes to mold, experts and health authorities agree on one thing: prevention is the best solution. Managing moisture levels and timely remediation of water leakage or flooding are keys to stopping mold before it starts.
A new product called Concrobium Mold Control offers an additional level of protection against mold. Concrobrobium is a nontoxic product that inhibits mold growth by creating an invisible yet durable antimicrobial coating that continually prevents mold spores from attaching and colonizing on the surface. Whether using Concrobium Mold Control on existing mold problems or pretreating vulnerable areas, this patented encapsulating action helps to ensure that mold will not grow back.
What really makes this product unusual is that it can be applied by the homeowner themselves. A gallon of Concrobium Mold Control sells for about $40 at home-improvement centers and can be applied by hand-spray, paintbrush, roller, immersion or airless sprayer. Larger areas can also be treated using a cold fogging machine (these are available for rent at Home Depot Stores), which atomizes the product into a fine mist or fog which allows quick, even coating of larger areas. Fogging is also recommended for inaccessible areas where you suspect mold, such as in attics, cellars and inside wall cavities.
Click on the link for more information on Concrobium Mold Control