You found mold, now what?
There is a lot of conflicting and scary information out there: all mold is toxic, mold can ruin the sale of your home, and mold is airborne. While it's true that mold can cause health issues, it can create toxic byproducts, and (if left untreated) will likely cause problems with the sale of a property, we can help you sort through the information and misinformation. We can also help you mitigate mold on your property.
Mold is everywhere
So you think you might have mold, or maybe you have visible mold, what do you need to do?
First of all, remember that mold is found everywhere in nature, and not all mold is toxic. However, different people have different health reactions, and for many reasons, mold growing inside your home simply is not a good thing. So when do you need to worry, and what steps should you take?
There are many kinds of mold, found both indoors and outside. Some types of mold can cause illness (sometimes severe illness), while other types typically do not pose a major health threat. Mold can cause health problems for one person, and not the next, so the impact can vary greatly. Even if the mold infestation is not making anyone sick, the presence of mold DOES indicate that you also have a moisture issue, and that can lead to mold, fungi and, eventually, structural damage.
Mold decreases indoor air quality and is a leading trigger for allergic reactions. Common symptoms include:
- Respiratory reactions including sneezing, runny nose, coughing or wheezing, sinus inflammation, and other breathing issues
- Nose bleeds
- Water, itchy or red eyes
- Skin irritation, rashes and sores
- Asthma attacks
- Fever, fatigue, and headaches
Mold decreases indoor air quality, is ugly to look at, often has a noticeable and unpleasant odor, and can slow or prevent the successful sale of a property. When you have (or suspect) the presence of mold, it's important to identify:
- The source of the moisture and whether or not it has been corrected (if not, you can remediate the mold, but it will eventually come back)
- Whether or not the original source of moisture contained sewage or other contaminants
- What areas and materials have been affected (and how that will impact any next steps for proper containment and remediation)
Get professional help
When you schedule a mold inspection, we will review with you the areas where you suspect there is mold and discuss remediation options and costs. We will look to confirm the presence of moisture using visual inspection and moisture detection equipment. Often, the big three signs are enough evidence: visual appearance, musty odor, or health effects.
When additional testing is necessary, we will recommend several independent, 3rd party testing laboratories. We make these recommendations as a convenience to you - you may use any testing laboratory of your choice. While there are some firms that will perform both the testing and the remediation, we prefer to keep the testing and the remediation completely separate.
Our professional team will take the proper steps that you are not likely to be prepared to do on your own such as:
- Negative air and proper containment to avoid and prevent the spread of mold spores to other uncontaminated areas
- Use of proper PPE, including respirator, eye protection, rubber gloves, proper footwear, and coveralls
Proper treatment with a safe, effective, EPA-approved plant-based fungicide and mildewstat. This green treatment falls under the FDA's category of GRAS (Generally Recognized As Safe) and is free of ammonia, chlorine, oxidizers and alcohols.
Common Mold Myth-Conceptions
While mold toxins can be dangerous, many molds are not necessarily hazardous in the right situations - such as in the antibiotic penicillin, or in certain types of enjoyable cheeses. There are thousands of types of mold and most of them are totally harmless, some even help! The presence of mold, growth, however, CAN tell you that you have a moisture issue. Some types of mold can even be indicative of water-damaged buildings, such as aspergillus and penicillium.
Some of the most dangerous molds produce mycotoxins and those can cause negative health effects, especially with prolonged exposure. Infants, the elderly and people with immune deficiencies are the most likely to be affected. Mold is also an allergen, so some people may be very sensitive to one type of mold while the next person wouldn’t have any problems.
“Black Mold” typically refers to Stachybotrys Chartarum, and is one of the types of mold that is indicative of long-term water intrusion. This produces mycotoxins known to cause a variety of health issues. It certainly isn’t good for you but there are almost no cases where it is suspected as the cause of death. Again, the presence of Stachybotrys does mean that there are other problems that ought to be addressed, and it certainly isn't advised to be exposed to this, or any other type of mold for any length of time, as individual immune responses can vary greatly.
It is very unlikely that you will get accurate results with a DIY kit for mold testing. Professional mold testing companies perform a variety of specialized tests and the results are measured in a laboratory. You are far more likely to get a false positive with a kit and it won’t provide essential information to treating the mold that would come from a professional test.
Bleach is NOT an effective mold treatment. In fact, the EPA recommends against using bleach to address mold. There are many types of mold that bleach does not kill, even if it does make the stain go away. Even worse, the spores are now being disturbed and distributed around the rest of the area you are treating. Attempting to clean up mold without first addressing the moisture issue, or taking proper precautions such as containing the work area and using the proper PPE and procedures is also not advised.