Monday, August 17th, 2015 by Bill Cowley
MOLD. You would be hard-pressed to think of something in our homes that is more of a threat to the health of our families. Mold exposure can cause or exacerbate asthma, allergic reactions, and a host of respiratory problems. Depending on someone’s age (very young or very old), sensitivities, immune system, and pre-existing respiratory problems, the health concerns of mold are very real. However, there still seems to be some confusion regarding mold testing. Is it worth doing? Does it provide you with useful information? Does the mold spore count in your home matter? Does it make a difference to know the type of mold growing in your home? The answers you get sometimes depends on whether someone has a financial interest in the testing. This short blog will attempt to summarize the objective position of government agencies whose mission is in protecting the health of the public.
So, here’s the $64,000 question: If you have visible mold in your home, do you need to have a sample tested? The answer, which surprises many people, is probably not. In most cases, if you actually see the mold, testing a mold sample is unnecessary.
Generally, we like to make decisions based on a much information as possible. After all, the more we have of something (including information) the better it is. And we love to test. But, when it comes to mold, testing is often a waste of time, energy, and money. Why? Let’s start with the information you’re actually getting from the test. There are no EPA or other federal agency limits for mold or mold spores, so sampling cannot be used to check a building's compliance with federal mold standards. If someone tells you otherwise, ask to see a copy of the standards. In almost all cases, if mold can be seen, that is more than enough “evidence” to take action to remove it. Any amount of mold is potentially capable of being a health threat to someone. There is no such thing as an acceptable of tolerable level of mold.
But what about testing for the type of mold present? Does it matter if it’s black mold or some other color? According to the Center for Disease Control website: it is generally not necessary to identify the species of mold growing in a residence. The CDC does not recommend routine sampling for molds. This is because each person’s allergic reaction, which is the health problem most often linked to mold, can vary greatly. Each of us has our own susceptibility. Some of us may have no adverse reaction to mold while others can become very ill.
Testing a home’s air for mold spore counts does not usually provide much helpful information. All home’s always have some mold spores floating around. Mold spores circulate around us all the time. It is not scientifically possible to remove all mold spores from inside a home. And it’s no big deal. Mold spores only become a problem when they have the right amount of moisture to attach to a surface and begin to grow. To stop indoor mold from growing, you don’t get rid of mold spores. The key is controlling indoor moisture and humidity levels.
If you have visible mold in your home, you can try to remove it yourself or hire a professional. The recommended rule is that if your home has mold growth that extends beyond an area of nine square feet, it is a serious mold issue that has the very real potential of getting worse. At that level, the safest course of action is to work with a professional to remediate the mold and prevent more mold from growing. For smaller patches of mold, if you choose to remove the mold yourself, there are safety guidelines you should follow including, but are not limited to, protective equipment such as the appropriate respirator, goggles, and gloves since cleaning mold disrupts the mold spores and you don’t want to breathe them in or absorb them through your skin. Also, what you use to do the cleaning is important. For example, bleach emits toxic fumes and should not be used in enclosed areas, and does not work on porous surfaces.
Once the mold has been removed, you have to fix the water, moisture, or humidity issues in your home that caused the mold growth in the first place. Otherwise, the mold will return. Mold is a symptom of an underlying water or moisture problem, and to resolve a mold problem for the long-term, you have to fix the underlying problem.
Our mold experts at Mold Solutions by Cowleys would be happy to schedule a no-obligation consultation to inspect a mold problem in your home or business. We can give you recommendations about how to fix moisture and humidity problems and remediate mold problems, just as we did in this Monmouth Beach home. The homeowner was back on track in no time after we removed the mold and implemented a preventive plan to stop any future mold growth. Contact us today to solve your mold problems. Whether it is your family in your home or your employees in your business, everyone deserves to breathe clean, healthy air!
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