Mold detection expert
MOLD MATTERS -
Solutions and Prevention
FROM OUR BOOK:
MATTERS - Solutions and Prevention
Charles and Danielle Dobbs,
Mold Detection Experts
Mayo Clinic, a renowned research institution has pioneered
several studies on chronic sinusitis to determine whether
mold spore exposure and inhalation played a part in the
disease. A research conducted in 1999 indicated a link
between chronic sinusitis infections and fungus (mold)
in 93% of the subjects.
According to a recent survey by the National Center for
Health Statistics 14.1% of the population suffers from
chronic rhinosinusitis. This means that 1 in 7 people suffer
from the disease.
In 2005 researchers from the Mayo Clinic found that fungi
plays a large role in chronic rhinosinusitis. In fact,
the findings indicates that chronic rhinosinusitis is a
result of a fungal driven inflammation rather than a bacterial
Something must be said about mold in schools and how
it affects students and teachers. The following statistics
were published in February 2, 2005 by the IEQ Review:
One in five schools in America have indoor air quality
-- Asthma accounts for 14 million missed school days each
-- The rate of asthma in young children has risen by 160
percent in the past 15 years.
-- One out of every 13 school-age children has asthma.
Center for Indoor Environments and Health at the University
of Connecticut states “the most common types of illnesses
directly related to mold are type I responses of allergic
rhinitis and asthma.” They go on to say “… allergic
inflammation can trigger bronchospasm, chest tightness,
and shortness of breath, leading to either new onset of
asthma or asthma exacerbation in sensitized individuals.”
Poor maintenance in schools and lack of money are often
cited as excuses for mold problems, but little is done
about it. This does not only pertain to public schools;
some private schools are just as bad. Many university
dorms, regardless of school prestige, are in poor condition
and some harbor mold. Students accept these conditions
as status quo and fail to complain. This situation does
not have to be. If money can be found to modernize a
gym and re-sod the school lawn, money can be found to
maintain buildings properly. Air quality should be a
priority of any institution and parents and teachers
should demand it.
Many apartment buildings have mold problems and maintenance
personnel know little or nothing about mold. Their lack
of knowledge can sometimes cause them to wipe and paint
over a contaminated area in hopes that the problem will
go away. Predictably within a few months mold will reappear.
This is because the hyphae (the root system) are still
embedded in the wall. Unless the source of moisture is
corrected and the contaminated area physically removed,
mold will continue to grow.
Sometimes, people are not aware that a mold problem exists
in their home or workplace, and when they develop allergy-like
symptoms they seek the help of an allergist. If medical
tests are negative or inconclusive, allergy specialists
should recommend having the home or workplace tested
for mold. If the levels of mold spores are elevated,
the problem can be found and fixed, and with luck the
person will regain his or her health without suffering
In regards to toxic mold, the United States Environmental
Protection Agency (EPA) states:
can produce toxic substances called mycotoxins. Some
mycotoxins cling to the surface of mold spores; others
may be found within spores. More than 200 mycotoxins
have been identified from common molds, and many more
remain to be identified. Some of the molds that are
known to produce mycotoxins are commonly found in moisture-damaged
buildings. Exposure pathways for mycotoxins can include
inhalation, ingestion, or skin contact. Although some
mycotoxins are well known to affect humans and have
been shown to be responsible for human health effects,
for many mycotoxins, little information is available.
Aflatoxin B1 is perhaps the most well known and studied
mycotoxin. It can be produced by the molds Aspergillus
flavus and Aspergillus parasiticus and is one of the
most potent carcinogens known. Ingestion of aflatoxin
B1 can cause liver cancer. There is also some evidence
that inhalation of aflatoxin B1 can cause lung cancer.
Aflatoxin B1 has been found on contaminated grains, peanuts,
and other human and animal foodstuffs. However, Aspergillus
flavus and Aspergillus parasiticus are not commonly found
on building materials or in indoor environments.
Much of the information on the human health effects of
inhalation exposure to mycotoxins comes from studies
done in the workplace and some case studies or case reports.
Many symptoms and human health effects attributed to
inhalation of mycotoxins have been reported including:
mucous membrane irritation, skin rash, nausea, immune
system suppression, acute or chronic liver damage, acute
or chronic central nervous system damage, endocrine effects,
and cancer. More studies are needed to get a clear picture
of the health effects related to most mycotoxins. However,
it is clearly prudent to avoid exposure to molds and
Some molds can produce several toxins, and some molds
produce mycotoxins only under certain environmental conditions.
The presence of mold in a building does not necessarily
mean that mycotoxins are present or that they are present
in large quantities."
Internet has a wealth of information on the subject of
mold. One can find cases claiming that mold has caused
irreversible and permanent damage in humans. If you have
concerns or questions relating to your health, do not
try to diagnose your health problems with information
found on the Internet or information contained in this
book - see your doctor. If you want to ascertain whether
a mold problem exists in your home, get it tested by
a professional mold inspector.
From the EPA
OF HIDDEN MOLD
may suspect hidden mold if a building smells moldy, but
you cannot see the source, or if you know there has been
water damage and residents are reporting health problems.
Mold may be hidden in places such as the back side of
dry wall, wallpaper, or paneling, the top side of ceiling
tiles, the underside of carpets and pads, etc. Other
possible locations of hidden mold include areas inside
walls around pipes (with leaking or condensing pipes),
the surface of walls behind furniture (where condensation
forms), inside ductwork, and in roof materials above
ceiling tiles (due to roof leaks or insufficient insulation).
HIDDEN MOLD PROBLEMS
hidden mold problems may be difficult and will require
caution when the investigation involves disturbing potential
sites of mold growth. For example, removal of wallpaper
can lead to a massive release of spores if there is mold
growing on the underside of the paper. If you believe
that you may have a hidden mold problem, consider hiring
an experienced professional.
are substances that can destroy living organisms. The
use of a chemical or biocide that kills organisms such
as mold (chlorine bleach, for example) is not recommended
as a routine practice during mold cleanup. There may
be instances, however, when professional judgment may
indicate its use (for example, when immune-compromised
individuals are present). In most cases, it is not possible
or desirable to sterilize an area; a background level
of mold spores will remain - these spores will not grow
if the moisture problem has been resolved. If you choose
to use disinfectants or biocides, always ventilate the
area and exhaust the air to the outdoors. Never mix chlorine
bleach solution with other cleaning solutions or detergents
that contain ammonia because toxic fumes could be produced.
mold may still cause allergic reactions in some people,
so it is not enough to simply kill the mold, it must
also be removed.
FROM THE EPA
MOISTURE AND MOLD PREVENTION AND CONTROL
control is the key to mold control, so when water leaks
or spills occur indoors - ACT QUICKLY. If wet or
damp materials or areas are dried 24-48 hours after a leak
or spill happens, in most cases mold will not grow.
and repair roof gutters regularly.
sure the ground slopes away from the building foundation,
so that water does not enter or collect around the foundation.
air conditioning drip pans clean and the drain lines
unobstructed and flowing properly.
you see condensation or moisture collecting on windows,
walls or pipes ACT QUICKLY to dry the wet surface and
reduce the moisture/water source. Condensation
can be a sign of high humidity.
THAT WILL HELP REDUCE HUMIDITY:
appliances that produce moisture, such as clothes dryers,
stoves, and kerosene heaters to the outside where possible. (Combustion
appliances such as stoves and kerosene heaters produce
water vapor and will increase the humidity unless vented
to the outside.)
air conditioners and/or de-humidifiers when needed.
the bathroom fan or open the window when showering.
Use exhaust fans or open windows whenever cooking, running
the dishwasher or dishwashing, etc.
ACTIONS THAT WILL HELP PREVENT CONDENSATION:
the humidity (see above).
ventilation or air movement by opening doors and/or windows,
when practical. Use fans as needed.
cold surfaces, such as cold water pipes, with insulation.