Mold – Keep It Out Of Your Home
How do you know if you have mold in your home? There are many ways that mold can grow, and they are all based on moisture (water). Moisture can come from many different sources: a pipe leak, water intrusion from a rain storm, condensation (water that collects as droplets on a cold surface when it is in contact with humid air), and/or high relative humidity.
Mold growth is based on water activity. Water activity is the amount of water available in a given material on which mold can grow. There are different water requirements that allow various mold types to thrive. Some molds need high amounts of water to grow, and then there are others that can grow with very little moisture, such as in high relative humidity. Some molds can even grow based only on a relative humidity as low as 60%. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) suggest ideal levels of relative humidity in a home to be between 30-50%.
Do You Have a Water Problem in Your Home?
If you have a water problem in your home, keep in mind that it is critical to dry it within 24 hours. The drying process is extremely important. Drying is an art and a science. If there is a large volume of water then it would be appropriate to have a professional company perform the drying. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) indicates certain molds have the ability to grow within 24 to 48 hours; if not properly dried mold will grow. Mold can be very elusive, typically molds can be hidden behind walls, cabinets, furniture and under carpets. Furthermore, mold can be difficult to identify, as many times it can be transparent and/or can grow in many different forms and colors (black, green, brown, yellow, white, etc…)
The key to finding mold is to follow the moisture. Where did it originate from and migrate to? The use of an infrared camera and moisture meter would be the best way to determine where current moisture issues are located. Also, look for other foot prints such as, water staining, paint peeling, buckling and separation of building materials, and unusual substances. These footprints are indications of water damage where a high percentage of the time mold sources are located. Furthermore, if there is a musty smell in the home that is an indication of mold growing.
Mold and It’s Affect on Your Health
Water damage homes and buildings have become an increasing problem for millions of people throughout the United States. In fact, we have a crisis when it comes to mold and other contaminants that have rapid growth in homes and buildings, thus creating sick homes and sick buildings. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) tells us that more than a quarter of U.S. buildings are water damaged with mold issues.
There is an overwhelming number of people whose health is being impacted by exposure to water damage buildings with mold, bacteria, biotoxins and many more contaminants found in the indoor environment. Many people are seriously affected and sickened, and stay sickened by exposure to water damage buildings. The World Health Organization (WHO) confirms that “Toxicological evidence obtained in vivo and in vitro supports these findings, showing the occurrence of diverse inflammatory and toxic responses after exposure to microorganisms including their spores, metabolites and components isolated from damp buildings.”
Other Resources on Mold
The Environmental Protection Agency: Information About Mold
Centers for Disease Control: What You Need to Know About Mold
The National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health: Dampness and Mold in Buildings
This article was contributed by the Public Education Sub-committee: Steve Levy, Caroline Blazovsky, Brian Karr, Corey Levy, Mark Levy and Al Rabin.
Indoor Air Quality Association
1120 Rt 73, Suite 200
Mt Laurel, NJ 08054