Q: What is mold?

A: Mold is a very large group of microscopic fungi that thrive on moist and pourous matter such as wet drywall and damp wood. Molds are filamentous and thus have a large surface area to produce spores that can be toxic to humans. Spores are easily spread by air, water, and insects.

Q:  Is mold in my home?

A:  Airborne mold spores are everywhere both indoors and outdoors. The risk to a person’s health is seriously elevated when levels of mold spores indoors is greater than outdoor levels. Air sampling during a mold inspection will compare indoor mold spore levels to outdoor mold spore levels.

Q:  Is the mold in the air a risk to my health?

A: Molds spores can cause serious health problems even when the spores are not viable (not alive) or dormant (inactive while waiting for more moisture to resume growth).

Q:  What levels of mold spores can make me sick?

A:  Levels that determine safe and unsafe amounts of mold indoors have not yet been established. Greene Environmental has no absolute levels for safe or unsafe mold levels inside a home or building. Because everyone’s immune system is different, what might be a harmless amount of mold exposure to one occupant can be devastating health-wise to another person.

Q:  Who is more susceptible to mold?

A:   Mold infestation puts certain individuals at a higher risk to the toxic effects including:

  1. Individuals with existing respiratory conditions, such as allergies, chemical sensitivities, or asthma
  2. Persons with weakened immune systems (such as people with HIV infection, cancer chemotherapy patients, and so forth).
  3. Infants and young children
  4. The elderly
  5. Anyone with health problems they believe are due to mold should consult a medical professional.

Repeated exposure to high levels of mold spores can also have serious effects on a “healthy” individual.

Q:  How can I get rid of the mold in my home?

A:  It is impossible to get rid of all mold spores indoors. Some mold spores will always be present in house dust and floating in the air. The mold spores will not grow into mold colonies if there is insufficient moisture. Indoor mold growth can and should be prevented or controlled by controlling moisture indoors. If organic materials are wet for more than 24 hours, mold growth can begin.

Q:  How does mold grow?

A:  Mold grows by consuming and decaying organic building materials and other cellulose-based materials such as carpeting, upholstery, and clothing. The longer the mold grows, the more mold damage to the building.

Q:  What is cellulose?

A:   Cellulose is the main substance in the cell walls of plants (and thus of wood), and it is used in the manufacture of many organic building materials such as drywall, plasterboard, plywood substitutes, and ceiling tiles.

Q:  Where does mold grow?

A:   Mold can grow hidden and undetected inside wall and ceiling cavities; beneath wallpaper, paneling, and carpeting; and inside heating and cooling equipment and ducts, attics, crawl spaces, and basements.

Q:  What causes mold to grow in a building?

A:   Mold growth is often the result of a structural defect in a home or building, or of poor maintenance or neglect that allows moisture to enter the building. The owner or employer must first fix the water problem (roof leak, plumbing leak, high indoor humidity) that enables the mold to grow. Mold removal is useless until the moisture problem is rectified.

Q:  Should I have my house air tested for mold?

A:   Air sampling requires specialized equipment. An air sample typically captures mold spores in a period of minutes. Since replicate samples must be taken due to variations in the airborne molds over time (even hours) and compared with outdoor samples.

Q:  What advantages do HEPA vacuums provide?

A:   Ordinary vacuums capture large particles only – small mold spores pass through the vacuum into the air. HEPA vacuums have special filters that capture small particles. A central vacuum cleaner which is exhausted to the outside also removes mold spores. A regular portable vacuum is useful only if its exhaust goes outside the home.

Vacuuming removes settled dust that contains an accumulation of mold spores over time. Reducing the settled dust reduces molds. Vacuuming with any vacuum cleaner (ordinary, central or HEPA) stirs dust and mold during the process. Wear a dust mask so you will not be breathing more mold.

Q:  Is vacuuming with a HEPA or externally exhausted vacuum cleaner recommended for serious mold problems only

A:   Vacuum regularly with a HEPA or externally exhausted vacuum cleaner to prevent the ongoing accumulation of dust and molds. The need for HEPA or external exhaust vacuuming increases with the severity of the mold problem.

If a furnishing has been wet at some time in the past or has been exposed to dampness over a prolonged period of time, vacuuming with HEPA or externally exhausted vacuum is unlikely to remove the mold growing beneath the surface. It is better to discard the item.