Guide to Understanding Mold, Symptoms, Causes and Remediation
Mold is found everywhere. Mold is a type of fungus and can be identified in different shades of white, black, green, orange, and purple, have a fuzzy or flat look, and grows both outside and inside the home. With thousands of different variations, mold breaks down organic matter like dead leaves, grass clippings, and fallen trees. These spores vary with the material on which they are found, the season, and the weather. At any given time, the same types of spores are found indoors because they enter through doors, and windows and on our clothing and shoes. Mold spores are easily transferred by air and they can and will take up residence in your home with the perfect environment, which is any place that provides moisture, poor ventilation, and will feed on most any organic material such as paper products, cardboard, wood products, wallpaper, insulation, drywall, carpet fabric, and upholstery, among others. Mold can hide in areas such as behind drywall, under flooring, in attics, and under carpets. Also found in damp indoor environments are:
- Dust Mites
- Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) which the actual cause of the musty odor associated with mold
Effects and symptoms from mold exposure can be complicated to diagnose and can range widely from person to person. Some common health effects are watery, itchy eyes; a chronic cough; headaches or migraines; difficulty breathing; rashes; tiredness; sinus problems; nasal blockage and frequent sneezing.
The elderly, young, and immune-compromised are especially at higher risk for negative health effects due to mold exposure. Newborns, babies, and young children can be at a higher risk of the dangers of mold exposure found in the home. With their developing immune systems and immature respiratory systems, making it hard to rid the mold toxins from the body, as well as spending a lot of time in areas of the home that may contain unseen mold growth, these younger individuals can absorb mold into the skin, airways, and intestines. Additionally, gastrointestinal issues can develop from chronic exposure to mold spores found in the home causing such symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. Loss of appetite and weight loss is also a result and a higher concerning factor when it comes to infants and growing babies. Being so young and non-verbal, it is hard to truly identify the problem which is why the education and the understanding of the hazards that mold growth in the home can cause and why it is so important.
Mold in the home is also known to have negative health effects on our pets too. Recently, studies have documented that dogs, cats, and other small animals are even more susceptible than humans due to their less complex immune systems. Some animals may have allergic-type symptoms such as excessive scratching, chewing, or licking that can lead to fur loss or sores. All of these can mimic other health concerns or conditions so make sure to take your pet to a veterinarian for a complete evaluation immediately when noticing any of the above, but be sure to discuss the possibility of hidden mold in your home as sometimes this causes maybe overlooked.
Mold Growth Causes and Areas:
Inspecting your home routinely for areas that could become compromised and lead to a mold outbreak is key to early prevention and costly remediation. Some sources in your home that need frequent inspections and maintenance are:
- Crawl spaces
- Water Heater
- Air Conditioner Unit
Making sure they are sealed and in working order will help to prevent any unwanted and unscheduled problems. Keeping relative humidity between 30% to 60% and by stopping leaks, removing standing water, venting areas prone to condensation, especially bathrooms and kitchens, and immediately drying or removing damp carpets and furniture will be some proactive steps you can take.
Immediate water remediation tactics should be taken to prevent mold growth which can and will start quickly – usually within 24 to 48 hours. Once the visible water in the home and water damaged items are either dried completely or removed, providing proper ventilation is important. Using fans as well as a dehumidifier will aid in the drying process. The best practice to safeguarding your home against mold growth after water damage that cannot be seen is to call a professional to help pinpoint and remediate the affected areas that may be hidden i.e. inside walls, subfloors, slabs, wall framing, studs, and sheathing. Performing the appropriate inspections, mold, and air quality testing will ensure your family’s safety from health risks associated with a mold outbreak.
At Coastal Air Assessments, we work our way from the outside in, first identifying potential issues at the exterior of the home that could be causing poor air quality inside the home. Our Mold Assessments and Air Sampling Tests are timely, accurate, and a true asset for Florida homeowners. Contact us today for your free consultation.