Mold has been present since the beginning of time. In Old Testament times, mold was treated as though it was leprosy of the home (see Leviticus 14:33-57) and the prescription for remediation was to remove the affected areas and either burn them or dispose of them by another process. The more radical remediation was to burn the entire house down!
What is mold?
Mold is a fungus. It is a primary organism in the recycling process of organic material. It grows from spores and then colonizes.
Environments that are good for humans are often good for fungi as well. In a living space, mold can be a problem. Many of us live with mold and don't ever notice any side effects while others can be plagued with allergy symptoms and even asthma.
Picture 1 - Aureobasidium - commonly found in kitchens, bathrooms, and poorly maintained HVAC systems
Picture 2 - Chaetomium - frequently found on sheet rock of water damaged buildings
Picture 3 - Stachybotrys - thrives on water damaged cellulose materials such as sheet rock
Pictures and definitions were taken from the Aerotech Laboratories Fungal Image Library.
What do I do if I find mold?
The best course of action is to have the mold removed according to the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists. Mold spores and mycelia can travel throughout the building if disrupted; so consider having mold sampling done to identify problem areas, extent and the type of mold present.
Mold needs air, water, organic material and a suitable habitat (i.e. temperature) to thrive. When mold is found, there is an underlying problem. The most practical item to control in the environment is moisture. In order to keep mold from colonizing, the moisture source needs to be eliminated. That is where inspectors such as Investigative Inspection Services, Inc. come in. Not only can we perform mold sampling (we are certified through the Indoor Environmental Standards Organization and follow a recognized protocol for sampling), but we are also experts at locating sources of moisture, which contributes to mold growth.
Why do sampling?
Typically, most homes in hot and humid environments have mold. Our purpose is to identify the unusual so that a significant problem does not arise. By getting answers about the type of molds present and possibly how much, you are able to get "closure." You then know how to proceed with a course of action.
Consideration must be given to budget and practicality of sampling performed. Remediation can sometimes be costly and unnecessary sampling should be avoided. If there are suspect conditions, a full evaluation of the building and some sampling can be performed to provide information regarding the extent of the contamination and aid in locating areas where cleaning is necessary.
For more information on mold please visit either the Aerotech Laboratories, Inc. [broken link - LC] or Environmental Microbiology Laboratory, Inc. websites.