What are molds (fungi)?
Mold is a simple organism found everywhere, indoors and outdoors. Mold spores are microscopic (tiny and lightweight) and travel through the air we breathe. Airborne mold spores in large numbers are a known allergen that can cause allergic reactions, asthma episodes, infections, and other respiratory problems for people, especially children and elderly individuals.
Are molds a major cause of building sickness?
Molds can be a major source of building sickness but not the only potential cause. Other issues can cause building sickness.
What are signs and symptoms of building sickness?
People living in or working in dwellings with building sickness have symptoms similar to a mild case of influenza (the flu) with the signs and symptoms disappearing within a few hours of leaving the building. Headaches, fatigue, and respiratory problems can also be experienced by people exposed to sick buildings.
What can cause a house / building to have mold?
Mold will grow in an environment that is warm, moist and unventilated. Once airborne, mold spores can be spread throughout your structure via the air duct system.
If I don't see any mold growing in the house / building, should I be concerned?
Mold can grow within areas of the house / building that you do not see. Wherever there is exposure to water and a mold "food source" such as cellulose (a component of wallboard), mold can grow. Areas such as the interiors of walls, showers and bathrooms, crawl spaces, attics, drywall tape, cracked plasterboard and dampened carpets are a few discovery areas for mold exposure.
If my home / structure is new, should I be concerned about mold problems?
New building methods make buildings better insulated and thus more likely to retain molds within the structure. Buildings are more airtight and any unventilated moisture that gets inside stays trapped inside, allowing mold to grow and spread rapidly.
Molds will grow any time the environment is favorable. Molds can be introduced into the house / structure when the building is under construction or after completion through events such as water damage from leaky pipes, roof leaks, sink, tub, or toilet overflows, cracks in the sealant around tubs /showers and use of inadequate materials during construction. There are documented cases demonstrating the damage caused by contractors allowing building materials to become wet during construction.
See examples of recent mold damage coverage: Forbes magazine: "The Fungus That Ate Sacramento;" CBS News: "Black Mold - Creeping Destruction;" CBS News/ 48 Hours: "Brockovich Takes on a New Foe: Mold;" CBS News/48 Hours: "An Insidious Mold."
Will my insurance policy cover mold damage?
In the past, insurance companies have covered mold repairs, but this is changing. Due to litigation and expensive repairs that can be incurred, insurance companies are now starting to consider mold issues a "maintenance issue" even if it costs thousands of dollars to repair/replace walls, etc. Please consult your insurance policy to see if you are covered.
Is it possible to eliminate visible mold?
It is possible to clean up visible (surface) mold with a solution of water and bleach, but precautions should be taken. For specific instructions, please refer to FEMA at http://www.fema.gov/diz00/d1345n06.shtm. Mold that is not visible however may require professional remediation.
If I eliminate all of the mold that I see, will this take care of all of my mold issues?
By eliminating all of the mold that you can see, you may help your situation. However, this may not be the final solution since contamination may be originating from sources such as carpets, the inside of walls, air ducts, crawl spaces and sources outside of your home or building.