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Understanding what mold is

Controlling Moisture
Purpose Of Mold Testing
Mold Sampling Methods
More About Our Mold Testing & Equipment
Data Interpretation
Remediation Of Mold
Ten Things You Should Know
Common Symptoms Associated With Mold Exposure
Information About Our Lab Reports
How Many Homes Have Mold Problems
More About Mold And It's Effect On Your Health
The United States Toxic Mold Safety and Protection Act

It is important to realize and understand that everyone is exposed to mold throughout their lives. Exposures to mold are virtually inevitable in everyday life because mold of one kind or another is ever-present in the indoor and outdoor environment. Thus, such exposures can be considered "unavoidable", "tolerable", or "acceptable" for the majority of healthy persons.

Understanding Mold
Mold grows throughout the natural as well as the built environment. Tiny particles of mold are present in both indoor and outdoor air. Mold produce microscopic cells called "spores" which are extremely tiny and spread easily through the air. This is how they reproduce. Mold spores are present through the indoor and outdoor air continually. When mold spores land on a damp spot indoors, they may begin growing and digesting whatever they are growing on in order to survive.

There are mold that can grow on wood, paper, carpet, and foods. When excessive moisture or water accumulates indoors, mold growth will often occur, particularly if the moisture problem remains undiscovered or un-addressed. There is no practical way to eliminate all mold and mold spores in the indoor environment. The way to control indoor mold growth is to control moisture.

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Controlling Moisture
The most critical step in solving a mold problem is to accurately identify and rectify the moisture sources that allowed the growth to occur. In order to prevent mold from growing, it is imperative that water damaged areas be dried within a 24-48 period. If mold is a problem in the home, the mold must be cleaned up and the excess water or moisture removed. There are many common sources of excess moisture that can contribute to indoor mold growth. Some of the primary means of moisture entry into homes and buildings are water leakage (such as roof or plumbing leaks), vapor migration, capillary movement, air infiltration, humidifier use, and inadequate venting of kitchen and bath humidity. Temperature must also be considered because of its role in moisture transfer and condensation. The key is to reduce indoor humidity and identify the molds' point of origin.

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Mold Testing Purposes

Contamination Sources
If the source of moisture is not easily detected, mold testing can prove beneficial. Often a roof leak or a plumbing leak can be identified as the source. The difficulty arises when there is an odor present or when an occupant shows signs of mold exposure but no visible mold is discovered.

Scope of Remediation/Restoration:
The area that is contaminated and the extent of the contamination will determine the scope of the remediation required. Following the completion of the remediation process, mold testing should be performed to obtain clearance.

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Mold Sampling Methods

A wide variety of analytical methods are available to investigators to study biological agents in indoor environments. Since there are no generally accepted guidelines for fungi or bacteria, comparison with reference samples is the most useful approach. Reference samples are usually outdoor samples and samples from "non-complaint" areas. In general, indoor fungal concentrations should be similar to or lower than outdoor levels. If fungi at a significant level are only found indoors, this often suggests indoor amplification of the fungi. Furthermore, the
detection of some fungi, even at low levels, may require further evaluation.

The word "sample" means different things in different contexts. At times, investigators use the term to designate an individual measurement (e.g., an air or source sample). However, a sample may also designate a set of measurements (e.g., multiple measurements of some parameter that comprise a sample of size n). In either case, the goal of sampling is to learn about entire populations by looking at subsets of the members of the population. There are several types of testing methods that can detect the presence of mold. They can be used to find mold particles which are suspended in air, in settled dust, or growing on surfaces of building materials and furnishings. Some methods can identify a portion of the types of live molds in a sampled environment.

Anyone who tells you that they can test for mold by simply coming to your home and using a meter, without taking samples and conducting laboratory analysis of them is not being truthful with you.   Some companies use a "particle counter" meter to determine the level of mold particles in the air, but without "capturing" and "sending" air samples to a laboratory for a comprehensive analysis they cannot determine the type of mold that is present in your home or how much is in the air, (which is what you need to do).

A disturbing trend is being seen in the mold industry by the use of laser "particle counters" to assess indoor air quality for mold contamination. Initially, it might seem like a good idea to use a device that can almost instantly tell the operator if there is mold in the air where the device is used. And, we'd admit that if such a device existed, then it would be an invaluable addition to any mold inspectors toolbox. The problem is: This Device Does Not Exist. A Laser Particle Counter Will Not Tell The Operator How Much Mold Is In The Air. The truth be told, a particle counter can not provide data to anyone that any mold at all is in the air.

A brief introduction into how Laser Particle Counters work is in order here, to understand why they are useless for mold investigations.

A Laser Particle Counter consists of three basic components: 1) An isokinetic probe that is used to extract air into the device, 2) A laser beam generation device with receiver plate where the particles pulled into the device from the isokinetic probe break the beam, 3) Software or electromechanical circuitry to assess the size of the particles, and count the particles that are within a certain size range.

Given this basic description of the components of a laser particle counter, there is no way that a laser particle counter can determine anything about a particle other than it's diametric size. A laser particle counter provides no means whatsoever to determine if a particle that enters its chamber is dust, pollen, skin cells, mold, insulation particles, or any other thing. Given this fact, one might ask what the purpose is of a laser particle counter?

Laser Particle Counters were first developed as a means to efficiently assess and determine the clarity of refined liquids. They are very useful to determine the amount and size of solid contaminants in gasoline, refined liquid foods, etc. Then, Industrial Hygienists discovered that Laser Particle Counters were a tool to be added to a box of tools that will let them know how much particulate "stuff" was in the air when they perform an Indoor Air Quality investigation (Note: An Indoor Air Quality investigation is NOT at all the same thing as a mold investigation). A related application to this is in computer chip clean rooms, where the manufacturer doesn't care what the substance is that is in the air, any substance settling on the chip plate would ruin it.

Given that Laser Particle Counters cannot inform the operator "what" is in the air, just "how much" and "what size" of "stuff" is in the air, a reasonable question is: "Why are mold inspectors using Laser Particle Counters for mold investigations and Clearance testing?". Giving them the benefit of the doubt, the answer is: They don't know better. If you don't want to given them the benefit of the doubt, you can draw your own conclusions why a mold inspector would be motivated to tell you that you have a mold contamination problem, when all you might have is dust, pollen, etc.

The American Council of Government Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH) does not recommend the use of Laser Particle Counters for mold investigations. The reason: It is impossible to determine the genus or concentration of mold using a Laser Particle Counter.

Surface Sampling

Surface sampling can be useful for differentiating between mold growth and stains, for identifying the type of mold growth that may be present and, in some instances, identifying signs of mold growth in a general vicinity. Surface sampling can improve the accuracy of the results and interpretation of the inspected environment if sampled correctly, although not required. The following are the different types of surface samples that are commonly used to perform a direct
examination of a specific location:

Tape (or tape-lift):

These samples can be collected using clear adhesive tape or packing tape. For microscopic examination of collected particles, adhesive tapes must be of good optical quality and compatible with any stains the analytical laboratory may use on the specimens. Easily removed material is collected by touching the tape gently to a test surface and removing the tape with a steady force.

These are portions of environmental materials (e.g., settled dust, sections of wall board, pieces of duct lining, carpet segments, or return-air filters) tested to determine if they may contain or be contaminated with biological agents. The objective of such sampling is to collect a portion of material small enough to be transported conveniently and handled easily in the laboratory while still representing the material being sampled. Samples obtained using this method can be analyzed using culturing or direct microscopy.

These are very similar to tape samples except for a sterile wipe (looks like a long Q-tip) is used to test an area of suspected mold. Samples obtained using this method can be analyzed using culturing or direct microscopy.

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Air Sampling

Air samples are possibly the most common type of environmental sample that investigators collect to study bioaerosols. The physics of removing particles from the air and the general principles of good sample collection apply to all airborne materials, whether biological or other origin. Therefore, many of the basic principles investigators use to identify and quantify other airborne particulate matter can be adapted to bioaerosol sampling. Common to all aerosol
samplers is consideration of collection efficiency.

The following are the two most common forms of air sampling methods:

The Micro5 Microcell uses spore trap cassettes in conjunction with a portable air pump to rapidly collect airborne aerosols including mold, pollen and other particulates. Air is drawn through a small opening at the top of the cassette and spores are trapped on a sticky surface inside the cassette.

These are similar to the Micro5 spore trap cassettes in that they are also used in conjunction with portable air pumps. The difference is in the air flow sampling rate.

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More About Our Mold Testing

Our test identifies dangerous molds & mildew.. Lab analysis is provided to indicate the exact count and type of mold & mildew present.

Tests provided for:  AC/Heating Systems, Bedroom, Kitchen/Bathroom, Attic Basement, Office/School, RV/Boat, Pool Area, Pet Area

Detects  Toxic Stachybotrys

Our Mold ld & Mildew Testing utilizes patented laboratory analytical method for accuracy and reliability.   Info about our lab reports.

Download Sample Mold Analysis Lab Report

Medical studies have found that mold is the #1 cause of allergic symptoms. The black mold Stachybotrys found in home, office and school environments has been linked to fatal pulmonary disorders.

Our Mold Testing utilizes patented laboratory analytical method for accuracy and reliability.

  • Discoloration or mold on baseboards, wallboards, or wallpaper.
  • Cracks in shower tile, lack of caulking, loose toilet seal, leaks under sink
  • Carpet and padding in direct contact with concrete slab
  • Poorly maintained or dirty air conditioning/heating vents and filters
  • Damp basement or crawl space
  • Water penetration (water marks on walls, mold spots on walls)
  • Musty/ moldy odor

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Data Interpretation

The term "data" can vary and may consist of the simple observation of fungal growth on a wall, analytical measurements from hundreds of environmental samples, or the results of a survey of building occupants with and without particular building-related conditions.

Data interpretation is the process whereby investigators make decisions on (a) the relevance to human exposure of environmental observations and measurements, (b) the strength of associations between exposure and health status, and (c) the probability of current or future risks. These interpretation steps are followed by decisions on what measures can be taken to interrupt exposure and prevent future problems.

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Remediation of Mold

Prevention of mold growth indoors is only possible if the factors that may allow it are identified and controlled. When prevention has failed and visible growth has occurred in a home or building, restoration requires (a) removal of porous materials showing extensive microbial growth, (b) physical removal of surface microbial growth on non-pourous materials to typical background levels, and (c) reduction of moisture to levels that do not support microbial growth.

Identification of the conditions that contributed to microbial proliferation in a home or building is the most important step in remediation. No effective control strategy can be implemented without a clear understanding of the events or building dynamics responsible for microbial growth.

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Mold Recap: Ten Things You Should Know About Mold

Potential health effects and symptoms associated with mold exposures include allergic reactions, asthma, and other respiratory problems.
There is no practical way to eliminate mold and mold spores in the indoor
environment; the way to control indoor mold growth is to control moisture.
If mold is a problem in your home or building, you must clean up the mold
and eliminate sources of moisture.
The source of the water problem or leak must be repaired to
prevent mold growth.
Indoor humidity must be reduced (to 30-60%) to decrease mold growth by:
adequately venting bathrooms, dryers, and other moisture-generating sources to
the outside; using air conditioners and de-humidifiers; increasing ventilation; and
using exhaust fans whenever cooking, dishwashing and cleaning.
Clean and dry any damp or wet building materials and furnishings within 24-48
hours to prevent mold growth.
Clean mold off of hard surfaces with water and detergent and dry completely.
Prevent condensation: reduce the potential for condensation on cold surfaces
(e.g., windows, piping, exterior walls, roof, or floors) by adding insulation.
In areas where there is a perpetual moisture problem, do not install carpeting
Mold can be found almost anywhere; they can grow on virtually any substance,
providing moisture is present. There are molds that can grow on wood, paper,
carpet, and foods.

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Common Symptoms Associated With Mold Exposure

The most common symptoms of mold exposure are runny nose, eye irritation, cough, congestion, and aggravation of asthma.

Individuals with persistent health problems that appear to be related to mold or other types of air quality contaminant exposure should see their physicians for a referral to professionals who are trained in occupational/environmental medicine or related specialties and are knowledgeable about these types of exposures. Decisions about removing individuals from an affected area must be based on the results of such medical evaluation.

Since mold is naturally present in outdoor environments and we share the same air between the indoors and the outdoors, it is impossible to eliminate all mold and their spores from the
indoor environment.

The mold identified in lab reports are often associated with excess moisture and can be a problem in indoor environments at high levels. Since mold requires water to grow, it is important to prevent moisture problems in buildings. The presence of mold, water damage, or musty odors should be addressed immediately. In all instances, any source(s) of water must be stopped and the extent of water damage determined. Mold can grow on virtually any organic substance, as long as moisture and oxygen are present.

When excessive moisture accumulates in buildings or on building materials, mold growth will often occur, particularly if the moisture problem remains undiscovered or unaddressed. Building materials, such as drywall are made of cellulose and are highly absorbent, perfect surfaces for mold growth when wet. Moisture problems may include roof leaks, plumbing leaks, landscaping or gutters that direct water into or under the building, and unvented combustion appliances such as gas stoves. Water damaged building materials supporting mold growth should be cleaned or replaced as quickly as possible in order to ensure a healthy environment. Specific methods of assessing and remediating mold contamination should be based on the extent of visible
contamination and the cause of the damage.

"Fifty percent [50%] of homes
contain problem molds.

A new medical study attributes nearly 100% of chronic sinus infections to mold. A 300% increase in the asthma rate over the past 20 years has been linked to molds," as reported in USA WEEKEND, December 3-5, 1999.

"Exposure to certain types of fungi, known as toxic mold, can cause a serious [allergic] reaction, or death. If you're unlucky, this is the kind of mold you have. If you're really unlucky, your toxic mold will gird for battle and go to war, secreting chemicals called mycotoxins, which can find their way into your body, entering through your nose, mouth, and skin, lodging perhaps in your digestive tract, your lungs, or your brain. Among these toxins are trichothecenes, which were rumored to have been used as a biological weapon during the wars in Afghanistan and Vietnam," warned Lisa Belkin, "Haunted by Mold," NEW YORK TIMES, August 13, 2001.

Molds can cause hearing loss, vomiting, memory loss
and asthmatic lungs.

"All molds have the potential to cause health effects. Molds can produce allergens that can trigger allergic reactions or even asthma attacks in people allergic to mold. Others are known to produce potent toxins and/or irritants. Potential health concerns are an important reason to prevent mold growth and to remediate/clean up any existing indoor mold growth."

-- U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, 03/01.

"Most homeowners believe that as long as they do not see visible signs of mold, that is, patches of green, blue, or black discoloration on surfaces, their environment is free of contamination. What they don't realize, however, is that large accumulations of [hidden or concealed] mold may be growing in areas that they cannot see, like air ducts, remote attic or basement spaces, or wall cavities. Left to multiply, these infestations may produce enough organic compounds to cause allergic reactions, sickness and, in extreme cases, death (a possibility with infants)."

-- Edward R. Lipinski, HOME CLINIC: The Battle Against Mold and Mildew, NEW YORK TIMES, Sept. 12, 1999.

"All molds have the potential to cause health effects. Molds can produce allergens that can trigger allergic reactions or even asthma attacks in people allergic to mold. Others are known to produce potent toxins and/or irritants. Potential health concerns are an important reason." The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, March, 2001.

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The top mold health symptoms are the following [you may experience one or more simultaneously]---
memory loss or memory difficulties/Alzheimers-like symptoms
learning difficulties or mental functioning problems
feeling lost or "disconnected" from what's happening around you
runny nose (rhinitis)
clear, thin, watery mucus from your nose may appear suddenly
sinus congestion and sinus problems
thick, green slime coming out of nose (from sinus cavities)
coughing and resulting sore lungs/chest from excessive coughing
coughing up blood
bleeding lungs
difficulty breathing
itching of the nose, mouth, eyes, throat, skin, or any area
redness of the sclera (white of your eyes)
skin rashes
skin redness
open skin sores and lacerations
sneezing fits (more than three sneezes in a row, happening often)
chronic, excessive, or continued fatigue
chronic dandruff problems that don't go away despite use of shampoo like "Head & Shoulders" and "Pantene Pro-V"

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Chronic Sinusitis

Health-care professionals now know that molds can cause allergies, trigger asthma attacks and increase susceptibility to colds and flu. Anyone with a genetic predisposition can become allergic if exposed repeatedly to high enough levels.

Dr. David Sherris at the Mayo Clinic performed a study of 210 patients with chronic sinus infections and found that most had allergic fungal sinusitis. The prevailing medical opinion has been that mold accounted for 6 to 7 percent of all chronic sinusitis. [The Mayo Clinic study] found that it was 93 percent-the exact reverse. [Newsweek, 12/4/00]

Asthma and Mold

For millions of Americans, taking a breath is a major task. The culprit, asthma, affects more than 17 million Americans, including five million children. Asthma is a chronic disease in which air flow in and out of the lungs is impeded by swelling, constriction, and inflammation of the bronchial tubes, as was well as excess mucus production within those tubes. The airways of all people constrict when exposed to certain irritants like pollen, pollutants or some drugs. People without asthma can usually make the airways relax again quickly just by taking deep breaths. People with asthma cannot do that.

Patients may find their condition triggered or worsened by several factors, which can be allergic or non-allergic in nature. Allergic asthma means that asthma symptoms become more intense, perhaps even result in an asthma attack, when the individual is exposed to allergens to which their immune system is sensitive. The inflamed airways of asthmatics are sometimes described as twitchy, and inhaling pollens, molds, animal dander or other allergens can cause the airways to become even more inflamed, produce mucus & constrict. Most asthma in children is allergic in nature. From American. Academy. of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology [U.S.A. Today, All About Allergies & Asthma, 3/16/01]

Alzheimer's and Mold

Because the effects of toxic mold (Stachybotrys) are similar to Alzheimer's Disease [in such ways as the loss of memory and ability to think logically], it is possible that relatives and friends of toxic mold victims think that their relative's memory losses and mental diminishment is a sign of advancing age, or of the onset of Alzheimer's disease. Medical researchers strongly believe that environmental factors help trigger what is ultimately a genetic condition. [USA Weekend, Aug. 31- Sept. 2, 2001, p. 6] Mold contamination may be one of those environmental factors!

"Even if mold in your house doesn't cause you any medical problems, if it becomes established in the wood in your home, 'dry rot' may form. Dry rot can result in a homeowner's nightmare. When the mold dies, the wood dries and then shrinks, breaking up into irregular chunks. Cracks in the wood fiber then act like straws, siphoning up moisture and carrying it to undamaged portions of the wood. Left unchecked, this process keeps recurring, continually rotting more wood, and can cause severe structural damage to your home," warned Vicki Lankarge, on the website insure.com.

"Mold problems have become more prevalent because of increased use of cheaper building materials like plasterboard and plywood, which are more prone to growing mold when wet...Mold, as always, is spreading. But so is mold litigation, to the consternation of the insurance industry. Last week a state court in Austin, Texas, awarded Melinda Ballard and her family $32.1 million in a case involving allegedly extensive mold damage to their Dripping Springs, Texas, house. The jury ruled that Farmers Insurance Group had failed to properly address Ms. Ballard's original water-damage and mold claim and committed fraud in its handling of her claim," noted Christopher Oster, "Insurers Blanch At Proliferation of Mold Claims," Wall Street Journal, June 6, '01.

The black mold Stachybotrys found in home, office and school environments has been linked to fatal pulmonary disorders.   

Today, one person in ten suffers from headaches or high blood pressure. Birth defects are on the rise. One out of every five people will get cancer during their lifetime, a 26 percent increase in the last two decades according to the National Cancer Society. In addition to cancer, environmental pollution is suspected to be a major cause of asthma, emphysema, nervous disorders, and there is speculation that it might also figure into puzzling diseases like Alzheimer's and Parkinson's.

Overwhelming media attention and newly enacted legislation regarding life threatening home and office pollutants has heightened consumer awareness, which created the demand for environmental home safety tests.

In response to growing problems caused by toxic mold, in June 2002, Congressman Bill Conyers introduced the The United States Toxic Mold Safety and Protection Act. Please click on the link below to read the bill.

The United States Toxic Mold Safety and Protection Act
("The Melina Bill")


The black mold Stachybotrys found in home, office and school environments has been linked to fatal pulmonary disorders.   

"About 38 percent of homes have mould and fungus growth due to elevated moisture." (The American Society of Home Inspectors) This problem is often worse in modern, tighter homes with little ventilation. Molds are fungi, simple microscopic plants. Mildew is a thin, black, or sometimes white, growth produced by mold. There are thousands species of molds. Outdoors, they live in the soil and help in the breakdown of organic matter. Molds grow indoors on virtually any substance when moisture is present.

Molds can be usually detected by a musty odor. They produce mold spores (seeds), which waft in the air throughout the house, forming new colonies wherever they land. They grow on paper products, cardboard, ceiling tiles, wood products, paints, wallpaper, insulation materials, drywall, carpet, and fabric. Molds flourish in damp areas like crawl spaces, basements, bathrooms (especially shower stalls), air conditioners, humidifiers, clothing closets, refrigerator drip trays, house plants, garbage pails, mattresses, upholstered furniture, and often in new houses because of high moisture in the building materials.

Exposure to molds occurs when people inhale mold spores. Mold spores are so small that they evade the protective mechanisms of the nose and upper respiratory tract. Although thousands of molds exist, only a few dozen are significant allergens. They aggravate or cause allergies and asthma, particularly, in children. The incidence of allergies and asthma has doubled in the last decade, which has been linked to the increase in air-borne molds in modern energy-efficient homes. One of five Americans suffers from allergies.
The other common effects of exposure to molds include nasal stuffiness, eye irritation, wheezing, flu like symptoms, chronic sinus infections, rashes, nosebleeds, fever, shortness of breath, headaches, dizziness, inability to concentrate, fatigue, and respiratory infections.

Some pathogenic molds effect the central nervous system or suppress the immune system. The growth of molds in your house should prevented to minimize the exposure to yourself and your family. You cannot eliminate all mold spores in the air, but, at the very least, you must reduce the exposure to allergens below the threshold at which your family experiences reactions.

Black MoldSome molds produce extremely potent toxins called mycotoxins. Large amounts of mycotoxins in air can cause serious illnesses like toxicosis (invasive infection). Some are carcinogenic and cause, for example, kidney cancer. Toxic "black molds" in homes and schools have caused public alarm. Some schools and many private homes had to be evacuated. Homeowners have lost their homes, because insurance companies normally do not cover this misfortune. There is actually a number of mold types that are black in color or produce black pigments. Such mold growths are common in houses, particularly in bathrooms and basements. The black molds known to produce mycotoxins include Stachybotrys and Memnoniella.

. Moisture Control is the Key to Mold Control
Concern about indoor exposure to mold has been increasing as the public becomes aware that exposure to mold can cause a variety of health effects and symptoms, including allergic reactions. This document presents guidelines for the remediation/cleanup of mold and moisture problems in schools and commercial buildings; these guidelines include measures designed to protect the health of building occupants and remediators. It has been designed primarily for building managers, custodians, and others who are responsible for commercial building and school maintenance. It should serve as a reference for potential mold and moisture remediators. Using this document, individuals with little or no experience with mold remediation should be able to make a reasonable judgment as to whether the situation can be handled in-house. It will help those in charge of maintenance to evaluate an in-house remediation plan or a remediation plan submitted by an outside contractor. Contractors and other professionals who respond to mold and moisture situations in commercial buildings and schools may also want to refer to these guidelines.

Molds can be found almost anywhere; they can grow on virtually any organic substance, as long as moisture and oxygen are present. There are molds that can grow on wood, paper, carpet, foods, and insulation. When excessive moisture accumulates in buildings or on building materials, mold growth will often occur, particularly if the moisture problem remains undiscovered or unaddressed. It is impossible to eliminate all mold and mold spores in the indoor environment. However, mold growth can be controlled indoors by controlling moisture indoors.

Molds reproduce by making spores that usually cannot be seen without magnification. Mold spores waft through the indoor and outdoor air continually. When mold spores land on a damp spot indoors, they may begin growing and digesting whatever they are growing on in order to survive. Molds gradually destroy the things they grow on.

Molds gradually destroy the things they grow on. Prevent damage to building materials and furnishings, save money, and avoid potential health risks by controlling moisture and eliminating mold growth.


[Click on image for larger picture]
Extensive mold contamination
of ceiling and walls

Many types of molds exist. All molds have the potential to cause health effects. Molds can produce allergens that can trigger allergic reactions or even asthma attacks in people allergic to mold. Others are known to produce potent toxins and/or irritants. Potential health concerns are an important reason to prevent mold growth and to remediate/clean up any existing indoor mold growth.

Since mold requires water to grow, it is important to prevent moisture problems in buildings. Moisture problems can have many causes, including uncontrolled humidity. Some moisture problems in buildings have been linked to changes in building construction practices during the 1970s, 80s, and 90s. Some of these changes have resulted in buildings that are tightly sealed, but may lack adequate ventilation, potentially leading to moisture buildup. Building materials, such as drywall, may not allow moisture to escape easily. Moisture problems may include roof leaks, landscaping or gutters that direct water into or under the building, and unvented combustion appliances. Delayed maintenance or insufficient maintenance are also associated with moisture problems in schools and large buildings. Moisture problems in portable classrooms and other temporary structures have frequently been associated with mold problems.

When mold growth occurs in buildings, adverse health problems may be reported by some building occupants, particularly those with allergies or respiratory problems. Remediators should avoid exposing themselves and others to mold-laden dusts as they conduct their cleanup activities. Caution should be used to prevent mold and mold spores from being dispersed throughout the air where they can be inhaled by building occupants.

Stachybotrys Chartarum (atra) is a greenish-black fungus
found worldwide that colonizes particularly well in high-cellulose material, such as straw, hay, wet leaves, dry wall, carpet, wall paper, fiber-board, ceiling tiles, thermal insulation, etc. The fungus (mold), before drying, is wet and slightly slimy to touch.

  • There are about 15 species of Stachybotrys, with a world-wide distribution. The toxic mold grows in areas where the relative humidity is above 55%. This type of fungus does not grow on plastic, vinyl, concrete products, or ceramic tiles. It is not found in the green mold on bread or the black mold on the shower tiles. The toxic mold environmental risk may be one of the next major real estate “due diligence” concerns, especially in property development areas where major flooding has occurred. The problem is that this not only includes known residential and commercial flood areas incidents, but also numerous minor water releases due to plumbing failures, conductive condensation, house water leaks and accidents. The toxic mold concern could also be a problem where fires occurred at residential properties.

    The second major concern is that one might not be able to permanently eliminate the entire toxic mold from the structure. There also remains a great propensity for future reoccurrence. The health risk/hazard could be back again. Therefore, we must recommend that great care be exercised to remove and dispose of all products, which have been contaminated by the toxic mold contaminated. This recommendation is supported by the Department of Health Administrations in many states. The third concern is that States’ Health Departments will consider ambiguous and genetic disposition as a response to the publics’ inquiries. There will be some people, especially children, that will exhibit more adverse reactions, including death, lung tissue damage, and memory loss, than other persons exposed to the toxic mold. This may depend on the chemical sensitivity, genetic disposition, predisposing health history (such as allergies, asthma, smoking, etc.). For some, the exposure to the toxic mold spores may just be a "health risk" and to others, it may be a real "health hazard" (potential life-threatening and loss of "quality of life"). Whether a potential liability concern is a risk or hazard will be paramount in defining the critical level of due diligence and disclosure response by responsible parties. There are already several major lawsuits concerning toxic mold exposure in residential and commercial buildings throughout the United States.

    Currently, most health organizations consider exposure to Stachybotrys mold as a health hazard. Also, keep in mind that most responses leading to testing, investigations, and abatement of the Stachybotrys toxic mold are due directly to occupant complaints or documented detrimental health effects. Stachybotrys mold may evolve to a point where it is regarded with the same cautions, response and liability concerns as those attributed to lead-base paint and asbestos. Health hazards and risks associated with concern to exposure to Stachybotrys are currently considered as short-term effects. Exposure to radon gas in houses is considered a long-term health risk and is not considered a short-term hazard.

    Stachybotrys produces a mycotoxin that causes animal and human mycotoxicosis. This type of mold is thought to be a possible cause of the “sick building syndrome”. In May 1997, the Journal of the American Medical Association carried a news article titled “Floods carry potential for toxic mold disease”. Children’s exposure to air-borne Stachybotrys spores is thought most likely to cause pulmonary hemosiderosis (bleeding in the lungs). Please be aware that there is no threshold dangerous spore exposure level by the U.S. EPA or any other health administrations. There are ongoing new epidemiology studies being conducted. There is reference information related to a 1994 incident in Cleveland, Ohio where 45 cases of pulmonary hemorrhage in young infants occurred. Sixteen of the infants died. In addition, many state’s department of health administrations as well as the Center for Disease Control (CDC) list the following as symptoms associated with exposure to Stachybotrys mold spores:

    1) Respiratory problems, such as wheezing, and difficulty in breathing

    2) Nasal and sinus congestion

    3) Eyes-burning, watery, reddened, blurry vision, light sensitivity

    4) Dry, hacking cough

    5) Sore throat

    6) Nose and throat irritation

    7) Shortness of breath

    8) Chronic fatigue

    9) Skin irritation

    10) Central nervous system problems (constant headaches, memory problems, and mood changes)

    11) Aches and pains

    12) Possible fever

    13) Diarrhea

    14) Possible hemosiderosis

    15) Immune suppression

Certified Mold Inspectors
Alamo, CA (925) 946-2500
License # 020952

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