Molds are part of the natural environment. Outdoors, molds play a part in nature by breaking down dead organic matter such as fallen leaves and dead trees, but indoors, mold growth should be avoided.
Mold is a type of fungus that grows on plants and fibers and is most often associated with damp, musty locations such as crawl spaces, basements, attics and bathrooms without exhaust fans. There are molds that grow on wood, paper, carpet, food, and insulation. Basically, mold can grow on virtually any organic material as long as moisture and oxygen are present. Mold travels through the air as tiny spores which like to make their home in wet areas, where they will breed. With time mold can cause rotting wood, damaged drywall, and eventually structural damage to buildings without proper remediation.
Black Mold – What Is It?
Black Mold, also known as Stachybotrys Chartarum (atra) is a greenish-black fungus found worldwide that colonizes particularly well in high-cellulose material, such as but not limited to DRYWALL, carpet, wall paper, fiber-board, ceiling tiles, thermal insulation, etc. The fungus (black mold), before drying, is wet and slightly slimy to touch.
"Old or dried mold" is JUST AS TOXIC and is sometimes worse because it can become airborne easier.
The second major concern is that one might not be able to permanently eliminate the entire toxic mold from the structure. There also remains a great propensity for future reoccurrence. The health risk/hazard could be back again. Therefore, we must recommend that great care be exercised to remove and dispose of all products, which have been contaminated by the toxic mold contaminated. For some, the exposure to the toxic mold spores may just be a “health risk” and to others, it may be a real “health hazard” (potential life-threatening and loss of “quality of life”) Whether a potential liability concern is a risk or hazard will be paramount in defining the critical level of due diligence and disclosure response by responsible parties. There are already several major lawsuits concerning toxic mold exposure in residential and commercial buildings throughout the United States. EPA: http://www.epa.gov/mold/
Currently, most health organizations consider exposure to Stachybotrys mold as a health hazard. Also, keep in mind that most responses leading to testing, investigations, and abatement of the Stachybotrys toxic mold are due directly to occupant complaints or documented detrimental health effects. Stachybotrys mold may evolve to a point where it is regarded with the same cautions, response and liability concerns as those attributed to lead-base paint and asbestos. Health hazards and risks associated with concern to exposure to Stachybotrys are currently considered as short-term effects.
In addition, many state’s department of health administrations as well as the Center for Disease Control (CDC) list the following as symptoms associated with exposure to Stachybotrys mold spores:
1) Respiratory problems, such as wheezing, and difficulty in breathing
2) Nasal and sinus congestion
3) Eyes-burning, watery, reddened, blurry vision, light sensitivity
4) Dry, hacking cough
5) Sore throat
6) Nose and throat irritation
7) Shortness of breath
8) Chronic fatigue
9) Skin irritation
10) Central nervous system problems (constant headaches, memory problems, and mood changes)
11) Aches and pains
12) Possible fever
14) Possible hemosiderosis
15) Immune suppression
Mold has been around longer than man, so we have lived with mold throughout our existence. So, why all the attention to mold right now? Well, studies indicate Mold is not only causing health issues to children, adults, the elderly, pets but, potentially everyone living in your home.
Modern construction techniques have “tightened the envelope” of home construction not allowing the structure to breathe, thus moisture doesn’t evaporate as easily and mold loves moisture, warmth and darkness. Tighter seals in window and door units with insulating glass, have all contributed to the reduction in energy usage. This leads to the increase in mold growth in all types of buildings. We know how this can impact you. Don’t wait another minute make sure you call a MOLD REMEDIATION SPECIALIST so they can help you assess the situation and help mitigate the problem. INSPECTIONS ARE FREE OF CHARGE!
Unfotunately, untrained well intetioned people (Contractors, homeowners, do it yourselfers etc.) will sometimes try to "Take Care" of it themselves with bleach or mold/mildew products. These products are ineffctive at best, or in some cases can do more harm than good. The other common mistake is to bring in fans to ventilate the crawl space. What this does is spread mold spores into the uncotaminated living space. Don't let this happen. Call a professional. Look closely at your home inspection for a disclaimer, like this one: MOLDS & FUNGI: - Moisture may be found in the structure during our visual inspection. If moisture is found, then it is scientifically known that moisture and mold are inter-related. We do not claim to have the background, education, or experience necessary to formulate an opinion as to the existence or non-existence of mold. If moisture is listed in any portion of the report, then we want our client's to understand that mold may also be present and that they should meet with the experts of their choice who have the background, education and experience to help them. Possible fungal affected areas were identified during the normal inspection process. Our firm is not licensed or certified for mold, fungi, or sick home syndrome work and therefore we cannot legally give any guidance or commentary on the issue. It is recommended that further evaluation of the structure be performed to identify if mold, fungi, or sick home syndrome conditions are present and the appropriate course of action can be ascertained. Please contact an Industrial Hygienist or Fire Restoration professional for guidance.
With a single phone call RRR can handle every aspect of a residential or commercial reconstruction and property loss. From the initial emergency to applying the final coat of paint, we can handle any size project. Our trained staff will keep you informed during the restoration process. RRR will be able to complete an entire project, from inspection to remediation and then reconstruction. We provide you with professionalism and peace of mind.
Visual detection and homeowner disclosures
1) The Stachybotrys fungi cannot always be identified by a routine visual inspection. Remember all black mold is not necessarily Stachybotrys. It could be non-toxic. The only method to determine the type of mold present is by sample analysis by an accredited laboratory. Also, it is important to keep in mind that the mold is only a toxic risk or hazard if a person breathes or comes into contact with the spores. Wet mold is an indoor air quality health risk, but there is a significant potential for the mold to dry and released into the air.
2) There may be visual appearance of black mold in a visible water damaged area but, be aware that there may be areas of water damage and mold that can many times be hidden (behind dry wall, under organic thread carpets, layers of flooring, under insulation etc.)
3) A home inspector may notice or note water damage areas, visible mold, but the majority of home inspectors have a disclaimer such as this.
This inspection is not a mold inspection. There may be notes concerning mold in the report and these should be investigated by a mold professional. Any notes made on mold should not beconstrued as a complete mold inspection. There will be some mold in almost all homes and the State of Montana recommends that all homes new or old be investigated for mold growth.
4) Perhaps a question should be added on the homeowner disclosure which related to any water damage, water leaks, or flooding in the house or around the structure.
5) Historical records of flooding in that geographic area may be used.
6) The standard ERC inspection form should perhaps contain an addendum, which would note any evidence of water, mold or mildew in or around the structure.
Eight Causes of Mold
*Undetected plumbing leaks anywhere in the crawl space can easily provde enough moisture to cause mold in this closed environment. Undermanaged crawl spaces during construction are a very common occurance. Incomplete or poorly installed vapor barriers can also add moisture. Poorly ventilated bathrooms allow toxic black mold to grow on sufaces of walls and ceilings. Plumbing leaks behind bathroom walls, kitchen and laundry room walls can sometimes cause mold on the inside without anyone being aware of it. In most cases if mold is present on the outside of the drywall it is often worse on the inside of the wall. We can usually take a small sample of the drywall to see what's going on inside.
Water-resistant drywall used as a backer quickly degrades once subjected to moisture.
Humidifiers provide both a growth medium and a distribution system for mold and mildew.
Under ventilated attics are also a major cause of mold. Moisture added by bathroom exhaust fans vented into the attic intsead of out of the home are also a major contributer to mold.
Washing machines in a room without a floor drain overflow, water with no point of exit will soak into adjacent carpet, drywall and insulation.
In warm weather, impermeable vinyl wallcoverings can trap moisture. Mold degrades the drywall and adhesive behind the vinyl wallcoverings, floors etc..
Fiberglass insulation in the rim joist or the main floor system can easily trap condensation on the floor joist. If moisture is present from any of the items mentioned above, this type of insulation can act as a "sponge" trapping moisture behind it. It can easily go unnoticed for years until a home inspection or crawl space inspection is done. We do provide FREE crawl space inspections in the Gallatin Valley.
Mold Testing should be done after:
Any flooding or water damage event. Whenever you find a leak that has been present for more than 24 hours. Whenever you smell a moldy odor, if residents of your home experience a long-term medical condition without a known cause, if unusual stains appear on furniture or building material OR, if you suspect mold but do not see any visible mold growth.
Buying a home or property?
Is there a musty smell in the building? Are there visible signs of water damage on the walls, ceiling, floor, anywhere? Discolored or darkened areas on drywall, flooring etc. Has the home ever experienced a leaking basement, a roof leak, a plumbing leak, a sink or sewer back-up or overflow, a flood, or any other water problems?