When you think of indoor mold, what typically comes to mind? That neglected drawer in the fridge—you know the one, where you stash the broccoli your kids despise? Truth is, indoor molds are common and come in many varieties, yet are often overlooked. As the source of health problems including allergies, asthma attacks and worse, mold removal performed by a professional may become necessary.
What sorts of health problems are caused by indoor mold?
When mold cells are breathed in and invade the respiratory tract, the body’s immune system tries to destroy the mold much like it would fight a flu virus. The result could be a runny nose, headaches, scratchy throat and sneezing, or allergic rhinitis.
The lung disease asthma, in which the airways that carry oxygen to the lungs can partially close, can also be aggravated by indoor mold. More than half of asthmatics have respiratory allergies, and inhaling mold can trigger asthma episodes in sensitive cases.
Respiratory infection, in which live mold occupies the tissues of the respiratory tract or lungs, is especially dangerous for those with weakened immune systems.
Finally, ingesting or inhaling large doses of certain molds can result in poisoning caused by toxins in the mold cells.
What are the most common indoor molds?
Generally speaking, there are three categories of mold: allergenic, known to cause allergic reactions; pathogenic, of concern to those with weak immune systems; and toxigenic—a danger to all. Folks sometimes try to categorize mold by its color, but this doesn’t always work, as both harmless and harmful molds exist in each color group.
Two recognizable molds that pose health problems are:
- Green Molds (Aspergillus/Penicillium) – With over 185 types, this fungus is linked to allergies as well as a serious infection called Aspergillosis found in the lungs, ears, eyes, nose, sinuses, and even the brain. Aspergillosis is caused by inhaling the spores of green mold. And green mold, like all molds, is the result of exposure to moisture.
- Black Molds (Stachybotrys) – Perhaps the most dreaded of molds, black mold is slimy to the touch and grows rapidly in wet wallpaper, drywall, carpet, ceiling tiles and elsewhere. Not all black mold is toxic. Professional testing using protective clothing and equipment is needed to be sure. Black mold removal should be done by professional remediation if results are positive.
What does the mold removal process involve?
According to the EPA, “the key to mold control is moisture control.” Mold spores won’t grow if moisture isn’t present, so if there is a moisture problem in your home or office, you must clean up the mold and fix the water issue or the mold will return.
Mold remediation is the process of cleanup and removal of mold from an indoor environment. Step one is a visual examination to determine if mold is present, what species it is and what level of remediation will be necessary. The assessment often involves moving furniture, lifting or removing carpets, checking behind wallpaper and even opening up walls…much to the property owner’s dismay.
In some cases, especially when occupants of the home or business are experiencing symptoms of illness, sampling of the mold spores may be performed by experts to answer further questions.
When cleaning the mold with bleach, it is important to wear a respirator and protective clothing. Better yet, play it safe and leave the job to the experts who may use any number of high-tech mold removal methods and equipment in the remediation process, including:
- Moisture meter
- Humidity gauge
- HEPA filtered vacuum
- Dry ice blasting
- Borescope (to view potential mold problems inside walls without damaging them)
- Themographic camera
To learn more about mold remediation, talk to your local disaster cleaning and restoration professionals. If you suspect that mold is affecting the health of those in your home or office space, please don’t wait—mold problems should be addressed within 24 to 48 hours.
Sources: Department of Health and Human Services of North Carolina; Centers for Disease Control; Environmental Protection Agency; and Trask Research, Inc. (a bio-chemistry company that develops mold testing and cleaning solutions).
LDR Construction Services, Inc. Cleaning & Restoration has proudly served all of northern Illinois and southern Wisconsin since 1991. LDR specializes in the complete repair of fire, smoke, wind, water and vandalism damage to both commercial and residential properties. Capable of handling any size loss and working with all types of insurance providers, the LDR disaster team is available 24 hours a day, 365 days per year. For more information, visit www.ldr4service.com or call 1-888-874-7066.
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