Mold: Separating Fact From Fiction
We all know that mold is the single most common byproduct from water damage, and that left untreated, it can become a major problem for any home or business. Unfortunately, there are also a lot of myths about mold floating around, myths that may result in greater issues for you to deal with if the story is not set straight. Facts and speculation surrounding the subject of mold often leaves people unnecessarily alarmed, confused, and often resorting to potentially toxic methods of trying to eliminate the problem.
Myth #1: Indoor mold is toxic. This is false. Not every species of mold is toxic, however, the spores that are released by mold for reproductive purposes may trigger allergies in some people. Mold is only considered toxic when it releases what is known as mycotoxins in the air. This is the case with the well known Black Mold, which can easily make people sick if allowed to grow unfettered and untreated. In any case, it is always better to play it safe and remove any mold growth found in the home.
Myrh #2: As long as we aren’t dealing with Black Mold, we don’t have a serious problem. The fact is that any type of mold is dangerous, namely because the presence of mold indicates a moisture problem within the home, and moisture attracts additional problems. Mold presents a number of allergy triggers, from sneezing, itchy and watery eyes, runny nose, and skin irritation. Moisture also provides the perfect breeding ground for dust mites, which rank even higher than mold when it comes to triggering allergic responses.
Myth #3: Mold is easily visible. Not always. Mold often grows in places that may not be immediately visible to the naked eye. A better barometer for the presence of mold is to sniff the air. Mold is almost always accompanied by a noxious, musty smell. If you experience this anywhere in your home, chances are you have mold. Purchase an inexpensive hygrometer and check the levels in your home. If the results are anything above 60%, that is a sure sign that mold is present. Mold is often an invisible enemy.
Myth #4: Bleach is an excellent agent for killing mold. The fact is that bleach is only effective in smaller areas, and even then only on non porous, non absorbent, and inorganic surfaces. Organic and porous surfaces allow mold to grow within the surface, where it is largely impervious to the destructive effects of the bleach. Drywall, fabrics, paper, and upholstery that have become moldy should be discarded, as cleaning them will prove almost impossible.
You have to remember that bleach is a very harsh chemical, and when used in large concentrations, particularly in areas with little ventilation, may cause serious harm. If it is mixed accidentally with other household cleaning products such as ammonia based cleaners, the result may be fumes that are nerve damaging at best and lethal at worst. According to the US EPA, bleach should never be used in very large mold infestations. If the growth is larger than 10 square feet, then it is time to call in professional mold removal and remediation services.