Mold is simply a fungus - and like mushrooms, there are good and bad ones - but
their main purpose is to break down dead materials. Growth can begin as soon as
24 hours after a ‘water event ’ has occurred & often can be seen as a
discoloration or stain.
In the 1970’s, a massive oil shortage changed home construction practices dramatically. Heavily insulating houses and wrapping the exterior with a vapor barrier means less ventilation from outside air. This causes potential for mold growth: wood, cellulose and other organic buildling materials provide a perfect platform for it. According to Bureau of the Census statistics, 35% of homes are damaged due to water or moisture each year.
When present in large quantities (called colonies), molds become a health concern in 3 main ways:
Allergenic - symptoms like a runny nose or wheezing.
Pathogenic - suppressed immune systems and other serious health effects in weakened individuals.
Toxic - serious health effects in nearly everyone: short-term irritations to cancers.
Inspections and Prevention
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The Environmental Solutions Assoc. has endorsed 5 levels of inspection services
for molds - contact a local Home Inspector or Mold Inspector to find out more:
1. Limited Sampling - In client-defined areas of the home.
2. Mold Screen - Visual assessment of all areas to identify "red flags" and a Ltd. Sampling. [If found, you will be advised on actions to take - additional samples may be taken, too.]
3. Mold Survey - Identify, determine causes and provide corrective measures for all mold sources discovered in the entire residence. [Mainly used when a problem is found and remediation specifications are needed.]
4. Clearance Testing - Used to determine the success of remediation efforts in an established containment area.
5. Post-Cleaning Testing - Also used to check on remediation but with no specific containment area in place.
It is impossible to completely remove every mold spore or mold indoors. It will always be found floating in the air and in house dust. Indoor growth can be prevented by controlling water and moisture by:
- Repairing any water leaks.
- Providing good air circulation.
- Having a quality electrostatic filter on the HVAC system return.
- Using bathroom, kitchen and laundry room exhaust fans.
- Insulating and ventilating attic and crawl spaces.
- Cleaning, drying and removing items damaged by water immediately.
If the home you are thinking about purchasing has mold, don’t panic! You can remove unusually high mold levels and bring the home back to the original condition. Mold inspections (visual, air sampling and tape/swab sampling) have become a standard practice during a home inspection. Reports and analysis can be reported for disclosure and references, too.
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