Mold Mitigation Hazards
Let’s face it: Mold has become part of our daily lives, causing anticipation, fear and panic. There are those that are using the “m” word as intimidation to make money. Usually these mold mitigation businesses do not have the certification or the expertise to do the job and leave the consumer in a worse position than when they began, including a large dent in their cash reserves. Understanding the best way to deal with mold in our homes is difficult at the best of times. Having someone sell you a mold removal job that is not done correctly is even worse.
How concerned should we be about mold in the places where we live and work? For as long as we can remember, we have been living with mold. However, changes in building codes and the rise in energy conservation measures have made mold more of a problem in some cases. Food sources for mold can be found in building materials such as drywall. Airtight environments with reduced ventilation and more complicated heating and air conditioning systems enable mold to thrive.
The typical areas we expect to find mold first are in crawlspaces, attics and basements, which are more susceptible to moisture intrusion. Any place spores can latch on to a food source, such as drywall, carpeting and wood, should give us reason for concern. If the spores become airborne, mold can end up in all areas of our living space and be a potential health risk.
Mold from macrofungi can, over time, deteriorate cellulose. Since wood is made of cellulose, it is a target for mold growth. Although it will take time, mold can cause structural damage in wood. Mold from microfungi stays more on the surface and is not as destructive. However, it still poses a health risk and is important to keep under control.
Stachybotrys chartarum, or “black mold,” and certain species of Aspergillus and Fusarium molds are toxic microfungi that can produce mycotoxins, which are hazardous to human health. We need to make sure that we keep relative humidity as low as possible and minimize wet conditions to prevent spores from thriving. Small spores that become airborne for long periods of time enter our lung system at a much faster rate.
If you suspect your home has a mold issue, look closely to see if you can find a food source for mold growth. Elevated levels of moisture or water intrusion are the first things to look for. A damp and dark environment along with elevated levels of moisture will almost always add to elevated levels of spore growth and mold. Eliminating mold food sources and mitigating existing mold are the next steps. Choose a professional mold mitigator that can deal with mold under hazardous material conditions. Do not attempt to remove heavy mold growth on your own, as it could affect your health.
Stan A. Garnet ACI, ASHI, ICC, is an ASHI-certified home inspector and an IRC Residential Combination Inspector with his company, Inspectors Associates, Inc., in Atlanta. Stan is the director of www.ConsultAHomePro.com, director of education at the We Teach House™ Institute and the developer of the See Thru-House at the Atlanta Home Show. For more information visit www.INeedAnInspector.com or e-mail [email protected].