Mold control is an on-going battle in many households. Mold can be found wherever it gets moist or damp. From the top floor bathroom to the
A mold-infested wall
below-ground basement, these fungi can be found growing in isolated spots or in widespread, rampant infestations. In addition to being a cosmetic blemish and an odorous nuisance, mold can pose health and respiratory risks, and can greatly reduce the home’s overall indoor air quality. While the best way to combat mold infestation is to control the moisture in the home, a new generation of mold-fighting products are making their way onto the scene and promising remediation and prevention benefits that exceed the commonly used bleach solution.
Bleach’s limitations in mold remediation are slowly becoming common knowledge. Once the method of choice, government agencies like the Occupational Safety and Health Association (OSHA), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and certified mold inspection and testing companies like SporeTech Mold Investigations, LLC are educating the general public on the matter. OSHA’s site states, “The use of biocides, such as chlorine bleach, is not recommended as a routine practice during mold remediation.” SporeTech takes it one step further, stating on their site, “Laundry bleach is not an effective mold-killing agent for wood-based building materials and NOT effective in the mold remediation process.”
A Closer Look at Mold Molds are fungi that make spores to reproduce and spread. There are thousands of species of mold, and those that are commonly found in the home thrive in warm, humid conditions. Mold growth is kept to a minimum when the relative humidity is under 60 percent. When conditions creep above that level, homeowners can expect mold growth. Controlling moisture in the home, then, is the best way to prevent mold growth.
“Mold” and “mildew” are often used synonymously, but mildew in fact is a fungus that attacks—and grows on—the surface of plants. Although both molds and mildews are fungi, not all fungi are molds and mildews. Molds in the home can be a number of colors, including black, white, green, grey and blue.
Health Effects The many various species of molds can have different effects on people. Not only will this vary by species of mold, it will also vary from person to person as individual’s sensitivity to mold exposure varies. Respiratory ailments and illnesses are the most commonly cited effects of exposure to mold, including cold-like symptoms, nasal stuffiness, wheezing and asthma attacks. Long-term exposure can lead to mold allergy, and those with chronic lung illnesses can actually develop mold infections in the lungs. Exposure to mold can occur from breathing in the tiny spores, coming into direct physical contact with the fungus or eating food on which mold is growing.
Where to Find Mold As stated, mold thrives in environments where the relative humidity rises over 60 percent. Within the home, the most common places to find mold are bathrooms and basements. Poorly ventilated rooms and areas exposed to water from a leaking pipe can also present safe havens for rampant mold growth. Activity in the kitchen can produce excessive moisture and can result in mold growth on or around the range. Check the fridge, too, as defrosting cycles can leave water and moisture on surfaces and encourage mold growth. Poorly vented dryers will cause humidity buildup, so it is a good idea to check the laundry area frequently for mold growth.
Mold can also grow behind walls and in the vents and ductwork of a home’s HVAC system. Growth in these areas can be widespread and/or difficult to access and remediate. If mold is discovered in these areas, it is often best to hire a professional.
Just about any damp surface can attract and harbor mold. The tiny, microscopic mold spores that float through the air tend to bounce off dry surfaces (like walls) and stick to wet ones. The spore is essentially an egg—when it lands on a wet surface the egg “breaks” and a “hypha,” or arm, emerges, obtains nourishment and multiplies. The nourishment found to sustain mold growth can vary from specie to specie, but just about any organic surface that has been wet for over 24 hours can show signs of mold growth. Both porous and non-porous surfaces alike can support mold growth.
Bleach and Its Limitations Bleach has long been used as a remediation solution for mold problems. Depending on the surface, a mix of bleach and water—and sometimes detergent—is frequently the advised approach. Bleach and bleach-based mold control products make up a large portion of the mold-fighting product market. Other products can contain ammonia or other chemicals that essentially act as poisons to kill the mold.