September is Mold Awareness Month and everyone, at some time or another, is exposed to mold because there are over 100,000 different types! If you haven’t heard of “Black Mold” then you probably live in a hole (and are most likely living with mold there too!). In recent years, the media has inundated us with frightening, emotional messages about the dangers of mold, types of mold, remediation of mold, etc. And while I do have some understanding of mold because it is a concern in the Real Estate Industry, it seems that the messages are more mixed than they are clear. So I dug into some more credible sources to see if I could get some answers and found some interesting facts, and helpful tips that I thought I’d share in honor of Mold Awareness Month:
SCIENCE VS. MEDIA:
Interestingly enough the American Industrial Hygiene Association, a group dedicated to the anticipation, recognition, evaluation, and control of environmental factors arising in or from the workplace, has identified that misconceptions proliferated by the media is as much of a problem as mold itself! In discussing the science behind mold, they write “The scientific complexities surrounding this issue would be a huge challenge but the truth is that other, less scientific, difficulties dwarf them. Media attention on this topic often creates emotionally charged circumstances, making scientific and professional judgment, as well as reasoned dialogue on this subject, very difficult.”
Get your information from CREDIBLE sources. Those organizations that either conduct or compile actual research, like the Center For Disease Control (CDC), Environmental Protection Agency, World Health Organization, Institute of Medicine, or the American Industrial Hygiene Association. And if you’re unsure of the source, scroll to the bottom of the page and if there isn’t a list of resources from where the information was derived, move on! And when in doubt, check with your doctor and a professional mold specialist!
Why is this of any significance? Because if you suspect mold and are having some symptoms, don’t let the first link on the first page of Google determine that your symptoms are from mold, that you are going to die of lung cancer and the world is being taken over by Stachybotrys. It sounds ridiculous when I put it like that, but seriously, Google doesn’t always pull up the right answer in links one thorough five.
I was shocked to read in all of the credible sources that there are NO CURRENT SCIENTIFIC STANDARDS SET for mold levels. Now, that doesn’t mean mold levels can’t be measured, it just means that no credible organization has established a certain level that is unacceptable. Why, because for the majority of these mold types, a level of danger depends upon the susceptibility of the individual and the volume of exposure. According to Chad Gunnlaugsson, a doctor at SouthEastern Ear, Nose & Throat, the most common danger to mold is the allergic reaction to the mold, not an “infection” because of the mold. Some mold spores do contain toxins. Those molds that produce mycotoxins or triple helical glucan, can lead to serious health effects in differing exposure levels. Although they are known to cause health effects, these are not well understood.
CREDIBLE INFORMATION ON MOLD:
The CDC has a wonderful website that is easy to read with a wealth of information, questions, and answers to the most common mold questions. It was my intent when I set out to provide more information to list them out for you, but this link is so complete, there’s no need to repeat, just refer. The AIHA also has a great resource on mold.
- MOLD FAQ’S
- MOLD AND DAMPNESS FACTS
- YOU CAN CONTROL MOLD
- FACTS ABOUT MOLD
INTERESTING INFORMATION ON MOLD:
- If there’s mold inside, it doesn’t generally matter what kind it is, it should be remediated and may be harmful no matter what type it is. So many people spend unnecessary resources testing the type of mold when it doesn’t matter unless being used for litigation or for other research where mold may not be visible. Mold is mold and if present in any amount, should be removed if present inside. The CDC clearly outlines safe and appropriate ways to remediate and when to contact a professional. The most important aspect to remember is DON’T do anything that will encourage the mold spores to become airborne – like spray it!
- Mold is a non-scientific term for many types of fungi.
- It is ok to eat the mold in cheese (unless of course you are specifically allergic to it) because it is a type of mold that is well outside the toxin production range. In fact some, P.Roqueforti and P.Glaucum have natural antibacterial properties and ability to over-take pathogens.
MOLD VS. MILDEW
Mold and mildew are both derived from the fungi family. The biggest difference is that mildew will grow flat along a surface, whereas mold will burrow deep into a surface, thereby compromising it. Although it is less common, some individuals do have allergic reactions to the presence of mildew as well. This is why it is important to remediate no matter what the kind or classification is. Left untreated, either can cause damage.