What is mold?
Molds are fungi that can spread both inside and outside. No one knows how many species of fungi exist but estimates range from tens of thousands to perhaps three thousand or more. Molds grow best in warm, damp, and humid conditions. They spread and reproduce by making spores. Mold spores can survive harsh environmental conditions, such as dry places and places that do not support mold growth.
What causes Mold?
Mold is everywhere in our environment. In nature, they play an important role in breaking down organic matter. Indoors, they have the potential to cause major destruction. Mold can grow and multiply whenever sufficient moisture is available and organic material is present. Common sources of indoor moisture that may lead to mold problems include:
- Leaks from Plumbing, Roofs, Windows, & Gutters
- Overflow from Sinks, Tubs, & Sewers
- Wet Clothes Drying Indoors
- Damp Basements
Health Effects from Mold exposure
Studies have shown that people who are sensitive, already suffer from allergies, asthma, or compromised immune systems and occupy damp or moldy buildings are at an increased risk of health problems such as inflammatory and toxic responses to mold spores, metabolites and other components.The most common health problem is an allergic reaction. Other problems are respiratory and/or immune system responses including respiratory symptoms, respiratory infections, exacerbation of asthma, and rarelyhypersensitivity pneumonitis, allergic alveolitis, chronic rhinosinusitis and allergic fungal sinusitis. Severe reactions are rare but possible. A person's reaction to mold depends on their sensitivity and other health conditions, the amount of mold present, length of exposure and the type of mold or mold products.
Some molds also produce mycotoxins that can pose serious health risks to humans and animals. The term "toxic mold" refers to molds that produce mycotoxins, such as Stachybotrys chartarum, not to all molds.Exposure to high levels of mycotoxins can lead to neurological problems and in some cases death. Prolonged exposure, e.g., daily workplace exposure, can be particularly harmful.
Symptoms of Mold exposure
Symptoms of mold exposure can include:
- Nasal and sinus congestion, runny nose
- Respiratory problems, such as wheezing and difficulty breathing, chest tightness
- Throat irritation
- Sneezing / Sneezing fits
Why is air sampling important during a Mold inspection?
Taking air samples during a mold inspection is important for several reasons. Mold spores are not visible to the naked eye, and the types of mold present can often be determined through laboratory analysis of the air samples. Having samples analyzed can also help provide evidence of the scope and severity of a mold problem, as well as aid in assessing human exposure to mold spores. Air samples can be taken and analyzed in a variety of ways. The most common method uses a "spore trap" and is called a "spore trap sample." Spore traps work by having a known volume of air pass impact a sticky surface as it passes through the spore trap sampling device.