Could Mold be Causing your Allergies?
We know, it can be overwhelming when your report comes back with a list of12 letter words describing the mold they found in your home (Aureobasidium anyone?) Well, we’re here to help make sense of it all!
What exactly is mold?
In case you missed our last post about mold, we want to start by reiterating that mold can have many negative effects on both your house and your family. There are potential health effects, usually different types of allergic reactions (some types of mold can even be toxic). But there are also concerns for the health of the house itself. Mold can cause stains, damage drywall, rot wood, and cause structural damage. If left untreated, the damage can become extensive and quite costly to repair.
You might not know this, but mold is a fungi – a classification of living organisms (plant and animal are others). Fungi feed off other organisms. Their role in nature is to break down dead materials like fallen trees, leave, etc. There are types of fungi that humans use – like yeast, mushrooms, and penicillium chrysogenum (used to make penicillin). All mold is fungi, but not all fungi are mold. Estimates show there are 300,000 types of fungi and around 100,000 of those fungi are molds. Some of the most common molds are Penicillium, Aspergillus, and Cladosporium.
Mold is a fungi that grows on surfaces. We see it in homes as that ‘black stuff’ in showers, tubs, on tile and grout, on basement walls, around windows, under sinks, and in the crawlspace. But mold is not always black; it can be different colors – even white or orange. We often hear people refer to ‘black mold’ – which describes the color, not the type. When someone mentions ‘black mold’, it most often refers to the mold Stachybotrys Chartarum – a mold that produces toxic byproducts called mycotoxins.
Mold typically grows in moist, dark areas, but it can also exist in a dry environment, going dormant, meaning it doesn’t grow. Moisture content on surfaces at or above 20% are most conducive to mold growth. Moisture content above 17% will still allow limited growth while levels below 17% will have virtually no growth. The challenge is that there are many sources of moisture in a house – environmental humidity, leaks, surface water, and systems within the house that create moisture. There are steps you can take to control these sources and limit moisture buildup. You can seal your crawl space and add a dehumidifier to reduce moisture under the home. You can also make sure that your exterior drainage systems are maintained and regularly inspected to ensure that moisture is not accumulating around the home allowing for moisture intrusion.
I got an air quality test, how do I interpret the results?
The charts below are a great reference to help you understand what kinds of allergens were identified in your results. As always, we would be happy discuss your results with you! Contact your home inspector or our office staff to set up a time to review your results.