Who Should Use Mold Screen Check (MSC) ?
School and Plant Operators
Building Maintenance Supervisors
Test and Balance Professionals
Real Estate Professionals
Insurance Claim Adjusters
Occupational Health and Safety Professionals|
What is Mold?
Mold can be defined as a conspicuous mass of filamentous structure, which possess both vegetative (hyphae) as well as reproductive (fruiting body) units. Fungi, is identified as a causal organism of "mold". Certain fungi have the ability to form mold and is oftentimes referred to as filamentous fungi.
Where to Find Mold:
Mold is part of the natural environment including air, surface and water. As a decomposer that promotes nutrient recycling, mold plays a pivotal role in our ecological system and can be found both indoor as well as outdoor.
How Mold Grows:
When the fungal propagules experience favorable conditions such as moisture (R/H more than
65%-70%), temperature (25ºC-30 ºC) and organic materials, it starts growing. Mold can reproduce by vegetative propagation, asexual reproduction and sexual reproduction as described above. The life cycle of a common mold is given below.
Where Can Mold Grow Indoors?
Mold can grow just about anywhere there's moisture. Some of the most common material on which mold can grow includes wood, paper, carpet, food, cloths, leather, drywall, insulation materials (duct liner, etc.), beside other building materials.
Why Mold Grows In Homes:
There are a number of factors for growing mold in a building, however, the most common ones are moisture, temperature, and type of building materials. All kinds of fungi can enter buildings through their ventilation system besides other openings. They begin growing indoors when fungal spores land on surfaces that are wet. Fungi capable of causing mold in buildings are saprophytic (mostly) in nature. Some of them can grow on synthetic microbiological culture media but not all.
How Can Mold Affect Your Health?
Most types of mold that are routinely encountered are not hazardous to healthy individuals.
However, too much exposure to mold may cause or worsen conditions such as asthma, hay fever, or other allergies. The most common symptoms of overexposure are cough, congestion, runny nose, eye irritation, and aggravation of asthma. Depending on the amount of exposure and a person's individual vulnerability, more serious health effects - such as fevers and breathing problems - can occur but are unusual.
How Can You Be Exposed To Mold?
When moldy material becomes damaged or disturbed, spores (reproductive bodies similar to
seeds) can be released into the air. Exposure can occur if people inhale the spores, directly handle moldy materials, or accidentally ingest it. Also, mold can sometimes produce chemicals called mycotoxins. Mycotoxins may cause illness in people who are sensitive to them or if they are exposed to large amounts in the air. Large exposures are typically associated with certain occupations (e.g., agricultural work).
What Should You Do If Mold Is Present In Your Home or Building?
In order to develop a baseline condition of the indoor environment, it is important to identify
ubiquitous mold conditions. Mold can be sampled by an environmental consultant and analyzed by an AIHA accredited laboratory specializing in microbiology; these tests can be very expensive - from hundreds to thousands of dollars. A simple, accurate yet inexpensive way to sample for mold conditions in your home is the utilization of the Bio-Scan 400. The Bio-Scan 400 has a digitally imprinted grid, which allows qualitative and quantitative identification of molds within the area grid.
How Should Mold Be Cleaned?
Mold should be cleaned as soon as it appears. Persons cleaning mold should be free of symptoms and allergies. Small areas of mold should be cleaned using a detergent/soapy solution or an appropriate household cleaner. Gloves should be worn during cleaning. The cleaned area should then be thoroughly dried. Dispose of any sponges or rags used to clean mold.
If the mold returns quickly or spreads, it may indicate an underlying problem such as a leak. Any underlying water problems must be fixed to successfully eliminate mold problems.
If mold contamination is extensive, a professional indoor environmental consultant should be contacted. If mold is greater than ten square feet the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene "Guidelines on Assessment and Remediation of Fungi in Indoor Environments" should be utilized.
Will My Health or My Child's Health Be Affected, And Should We See A Physician?
If you believe that you or your children have symptoms that you suspect are caused by exposure to mold, you should see a physician. Keep in mind that many symptoms associated with mold
exposure may also be caused by many other illnesses. You should tell your physician about the symptoms and about when, how, and for how long you think you or your children were exposed.
Why Test For Molds?
Molds have the potential to cause health problems. Molds produce allergens (substances that cause allergic reactions), irritants, and in some cases, potentially toxic substances (mycotoxins).
Suspicion of Hidden Mold
You may suspect hidden mold if a building smells moldy, but you cannot see the source, or if you know there has been water damage and residents are reporting health problems. Mold may be hidden in places such as the backside of dry wall, wallpaper, or paneling, the topside of ceiling tiles, the underside of carpets and pads, etc. Other possible locations of hidden mold include areas inside walls around pipes (with leaking or condensing pipes), the surface of walls behind furniture (where condensation forms), inside ductwork, and in roof materials above ceiling tiles (due to roof leaks or insufficient insulation).
Investigating Hidden Mold Problems
Investigating hidden mold problems may be difficult and will require caution when the investigation involves disturbing potential sites of mold growth. For example, removal of wallpaper can lead to a massive release of spores if there is mold growing on the underside of the paper. If you believe that you may have a hidden mold problem, consider hiring an experienced professional.
Cleanup and Biocides
Biocides are substances that can destroy living organisms. The use of a chemical or biocide that kills organisms such as mold (chlorine bleach, for example) is not recommended as a routine practice during mold cleanup. There may be instances, however, when professional judgment may indicate its use (for example, when immune-compromised individuals are present). In most cases, it is not possible or desirable to sterilize an area; a background level of mold spores will remain -
these spores will not grow if the moisture problem has been resolved. If you choose to use disinfectants or biocides, always ventilate the area and exhaust the air to the outdoors. Never mix chlorine bleach solution with other cleaning solutions or detergents that contain ammonia because toxic fumes could be produced.
Dead mold may still cause allergic reactions in some people, so it is not enough to simply kill the mold, it must also be removed.
For more information on mold related issues including mold cleanup and moisture
control/condensation/humidity issues, you can call the EPA Indoor Air Quality Information Clearinghouse at (800) 438-4318. Or visit: www.epa.gov/iaq/molds.
Excerpt from: "A Brief Guide to Mold, Moisture and Your Home" is available on the Environmental Protection Agency, Indoor Environments Division website at: www.epa.gov/iaq/molds/moldguide.html
Please contact Nordic Pure if you do not see the test you are interested in ordering. You can reach us at 800-590-0339.