Mold: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly Part 1

Mold growing11.25.2014

Written by: Selective Micro Technologies

When the word mold is mentioned, it can strike fear in people within the food industry, hospitality industry, general contractors and renovators, and even the healthcare industry. Why is this the case? Because mold typically has a pretty bad reputation, not only from smell and visual perspectives, but the fact that it can severely and adversely affect one’s health. This makes it a major issue. In other words, when mold shows its ugly face it can spoil food, ruin structures in buildings, release bad odors, and cause sickness in people.

 In this new three-part series about mold, we are going to research and explore different kinds of mold, debunk myths about mold, and explore mold removal methods. In Part 1, we will talk specifically about what mold is and the health effects caused by mold. Part 2 will aim to debunk different myths and present the ways in which mold can be good. Finally, Part 3 will explore more in depth about the kinds of mold that are out there and how to treat and remove them.

What is Mold?

Mold is fungus that grows outdoors and can also grow indoors. Mold produces spores which can be released into the environment and carried by water or air to the final destination, whereupon mold will begin to grow again. Mold grows because of the presence of moisture. However, moisture, along with temperature, light, and oxygen, creates the perfect environment for mold to grow.

Take moldy bread as an example. Bread itself contains moisture and is typically stored in a cabinet or drawer which provides the appropriate temperature, light, and oxygen the mold needs to grow. The mold spores have been picked up along the way, whether in the food processing plant, store, or even from a hand reaching in the bag for a piece of bread. Thus, when you see the nasty green or black growth on your bread, it’s no surprise mold was able to grow, because you provided it the perfect environment to do so.

Health Risks from Exposure

Mold can be very invasive and secretly cause major damage to structures if it isn’t detected in time. Depending on the type of mold that is growing within buildings or on food, it can also be detrimental to the health of people. On the OSHA website’s section about mold, it specifically describes the cause these health effects entail. It says mold produces “toxic agents known as mycotoxins. People at greatest risk of health effects are individuals with allergies, asthma, sinusitis, or other respiratory conditions, as well as infants and children, elderly people, and pregnant women. In addition, individuals with a weakened immune system are at risk.”

The National Institute of Health lists symptoms that may occur after mold exposure. “Symptoms stemming from mold spore exposure may include: nasal and sinus congestion, eye irritation, blurred vision, sore throat, chronic cough, skin rash.” Detection of the presence of mold is critical for both reaction plan to, and treatment plan against. It is best to have licensed professionals check for mold because they have the specialized equipment and training to do so. It is very important for the safety of everyone within the building or home, from infants to elderly adults. According to NIEHS, “After contact with certain molds, individuals with chronic respiratory disease may have difficulty breathing, and people who are immunocompromised may be at increased risk for lung infection.” A study conducted by NIEHS-funded scientists shows that mold exposure during the first year of life “may increase the risk of childhood asthma.”

Quick Facts About Mold:

  1. Certain people are more susceptible to having health reactions after being exposed to mold.
  2. Mold can be very invasive and secretly cause major damage to structures if it isn’t detected in time.
  3. Moisture is necessary toward giving mold the ability to grow. Reduce moisture, reduce mold growth.
  4. Symptoms of mold exposure: nasal and sinus congestion, eye irritation, blurred vision, sore throat, chronic cough, skin rash.

Helpful Infographics:

NIH Fact Sheet:

http://www.niehs.nih.gov/health/materials/mold_508.pdf

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