What is the Big Deal about Mold?
By Jessica Elgin
Mold is one word that can strike fear in the heart of any homeowner. So what is the big deal about mold anyway? And is it really necessary to have it removed?
You may encounter what appears to be mold when you are fixing a plumbing leak, remodeling a home, doing general maintenance of gutters and bathrooms, buying a home, or selling your home. There are many products on the market that can clean and remove mold, and there are even more do-it-yourself videos on YouTube. However, it is important to first understand the type of mold with which you are dealing, the risks involved with the mold itself, and the products and techniques used for mold removal.
Mold is a type of fungus that consists of small organisms found almost everywhere. It can be black, white, orange, green, or purple in color. It thrives on moisture and reproduces by means of tiny, lightweight spores that travel through the air. Mold is naturally occurring and present in our air, so it is not possible to completely eliminate it from our lives. For those with normal immune systems, mold may not cause any issues, but for those with compromised immune systems, some types of mold can be deadly.
There are many different strands of algae, mildew, and mold. These may appear similar, but every strand has very different medical consequences. As a general rule, algae will have a green appearance and is less toxic, while mold and mildew will have a black or brown appearance and have a wide variety of medical consequences. Beyond color, it is almost impossible to tell the difference in the various strands of mold, mildew, and algae. When exposed, mold may have a musty or wet smell, but when covered, it may not be detectable. Newly remodeled or newly built homes can have elevated levels of mold that are masked by the smell of new drywall, paint, or flooring.
Black mold (stachybotrys chartarum) is the most notorious strand of mold. This strand can cause internal organ damage, respiratory illness, and mental impairment. Unfortunately, it looks very similar to less deadly strands. A mold test can identify the different strands of mold that may be present and measures the number of spores in the air inside your home versus the number of spores outside your home. If you suspect there is mold in your home and you choose to have a mold test, you need to understand that every test will identify multiple types of mold in your home. This is not alarming unless the number of spores is significantly higher inside than outside. Use a licensed inspector or remediation company to perform these tests and give you the best advice on how to proceed.
If you do find mold, you may be tempted to use one of the over the counter products or do-it-yourself techniques easily accessible on YouTube. Be cautious. Do your research and determine the risks you may encounter using any of these products and techniques. Remember, mold is airborne, and if you inhale the spores, you may cause yourself irreversible damage.
For a list of common molds, the symptoms of mold exposure, and the steps for mold removal, please visit our Facebook page at Jessica Elgin–Red Rock Real Estate, or call our office at 435-414-1724.