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What is Mold?
We hear a lot in the media these days about the dangers of exposure to mold, but what is mold exactly, anyway? Mold is not a plant or an animal, but a type of fungi. We eat some types of fungi, like many kinds of mushrooms and the yeast we use to make bread rise. Some types of mold are even used to make medicine, like the type of mold that is used to make penicillin, a life-saving antibiotic. Other types of mold can be harmful to our health, however.
There are hundreds of different kinds of mold found both indoors and outdoors. Mold grows in damp, dimly-lit areas. Indoors, it can often be found in places like attics, basements, crawl spaces, and bathrooms. Mold is also common in other areas if there is a leak in the roof, leaky windows, leaky pipes, or seasonal flooding. Some molds commonly found indoors include Aspergillus, Chaetomium, Cladosporium, Penicillium, and Stachybotrys (sometimes referred to as black mold, although many types of mold are black in color).
Alternaria is often found outdoors, but it also grows in damp places indoors, like in showers or under sinks with leaky pipes. It can also be found in buildings that have been flooded or suffered other water damage. It spreads easily from one area of the home to another. Exposure to Alternaria can cause allergic reactions and asthma attacks.
Aspergillus is a type of mold frequently found indoors. It can cause allergic reactions, respiratory infections, and a condition called hypersensitivity pneumonitis, which causes inflammation of the lungs.
Aureobasidium is a mold often found outdoors, but it can also be found in homes growing on wooden surfaces, wallpaper, and painted surfaces. It’s also often found on damp window frames and caulking. It is pink and black in color. Many people are allergic to Aureobasidium.
Botrytis grows in areas with high levels of humidity, like bathrooms with poor ventilation. It can cause allergic reactions and asthma.
Chaetomium often grows on drywall, carpets and window frames that have sustained water damage. It produces a characteristic musty odor.
Cladosporium is a type of mold often found growing inside homes. While most types of mold prefer warm climates, Cladosporium can grow in cool areas, too. It often grows on fabrics, like carpets, and on wood surfaces, like cabinets and floorboards. It can cause a variety of respiratory problems.
Fusarium is another of the mold types that, like Cladosporium, can grow and spread at lower temperatures. It’s often found growing on water-damaged carpeting and other fabrics. It causes allergic reactions, asthma, and respiratory infections. People with compromised immune systems are particularly vulnerable to infections due to fusarium exposure.
Penicillium is often found growing on materials that have been damaged by water, including carpeting, wallpaper, insulation, and furnishings like mattresses. It’s one of the mold types that spread quickly and easily from one part of the home to another. Exposure to Penicillium can cause allergic reactions, chronic sinus infections, and inflammation of the lungs. Usually appears as a blue mold and/or a green mold.
Stachybotrys Chartarum is often referred to as “black mold” due to its slimy black appearance. It’s sometimes referred to as “toxic mold,” although the mold itself is not toxic; it produces toxic compounds called mycotoxins, which cause health problems when people come in contact with them. It can cause allergic reactions, breathing problems, chronic sinus infections, asthma attacks, fatigue, and depression. Stachybotrys Chartarum has a characteristic musty odor and usually grows in places that stay damp all the time, like in air conditioning ducts where there is a lot of condensation or around leaky pipes.
Serpula Lacrymans Mold
Serpula Lacrymans is a yellow mold that causes “dry rot” because it feeds on wood.
Trichoderma is often found growing on the damp carpet, wallpaper, and other wet surfaces. It produces mycotoxins similar to those produced by Stachybotrys Chatarum, and it can cause similar health problems. Many people are also allergic to Trichoderma.
Ulocladium requires a lot of water, so it frequently grows in areas with extensive water damage, including homes that have been flooded. It’s often found growing on wet walls. Many people are allergic to Ulocladium.
Efflorescence is salt deposits that are often confused with white mold in the basement. To compare pictures of both and see how to tell the difference.
Can MOLD cause health problems?
Mold has the potential to cause health problems and even make a home uninhabitable. However, everyone is affected differently when in contact with the mold. The mold that may not bother the seller may severely affect the buyer. Some mold can produce allergens, irritants and, in some cases, potentially toxic chemical substances known as mycotoxins. People who are sensitive and exposed to mycotoxins can become ill. Allergic reactions to mold are common. They can be immediate or delayed. People diagnosed with allergies and asthma may be very sensitive to mold. Mold can cause asthma attacks. Others at risk may include infants, children, the elderly, immune compromised patients, pregnant women and individuals with existing respiratory conditions.
What Kind of Mold Is Growing in Your Home?
APROtected Mold Inspections can test your home for mold and tell you what kind of mold is growing there. APROtected can also let you know the severity of your mold problem and locate mold you may not have spotted.