Technical Papers

New Jersey Homeowner's Guide to Common Types of Mold

Wednesday, November 30th, 2016 by Bill Cowley

New Jersey Homeowner\'s Guide to Common Types of Mold - Image 1

Most people hear the word “mold” and recoil. We all know that mold can lead to serious health issues, but did you know that there are many different types of mold that may be found in your home? Different types of molds can affect people differently. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), Alternaria, Aspergillus, Cladosporium, and Penicillium are all commonly found in homes. All four of these molds can cause health issues for people who come in contact with them.

Like many molds, Alternaria is found both inside the home and outside the home. Although this mold is more commonly found outside, when it is inside it can cause health problems. It is commonly found in damp places in the home, the most common of which include under sinks, in showers, or anywhere pipes leak. Alternaria also frequently establishes itself in areas that have had flood damage in the past that was not properly remediated. When people are exposed to Alternaria they can experience an allergic reaction and in some cases, it can bring on an asthma attack.

Aspergillus is a type of mold that is commonly found all over the world. Although it is common, that does not mean that it is safe. When healthy adults are exposed to this type of mold they often have minor health issues. When elderly people, children, or people with compromised immune systems come in contact with Aspergillus mold spores their reactions can be very serious. Information from the Mayo Clinic states that in extreme cases exposure to Aspergillus can result in bleeding in the lungs, infection of facial bones, and even sepsis (a serious infection that spreads throughout the body).
Another mold that is commonly found in homes is Cladosporium. Cladosporium is an unusual mold in that it tolerates cool temperatures in which most other molds could not survive. It is often found on fabrics (curtains), carpets, and wood surfaces (cabinets and floorboards). Cladosporium does not usually cause severe problems, except in people who have compromised immune systems. Elevated Cladosporiu spore concentrations can bring about chronic allergies and asthma in some individuals.

Lastly, there is Penicillium. This mold is most often blue or green but is sometimes yellow in color. It is known for its ability to spread rapidly. It can move quickly from one area of a home to another. Penicillium is often found in carpeting, wallpaper, mattresses, and insulation that has been damaged by water. The greatest concern with this mold is that in some cases it can produce mycotoxins (toxic chemicals produced by the fungi). Interaction with this type of mold has been known to cause chronic sinus infections and inflammation of the lungs in some people. These symptoms are most often seen in people with asthma and emphysema but anyone can be affected.

Regardless of the type of mold, did you know that the CDC states on their website that 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. Learn more.

Unlike dirt and stains, mold is not simply a cosmetic issue. Painting over mold or scrubbing it with many household cleaners will not get rid of your problem, in fact, improper removal of mold can actually make a mold situation worse. When mold is disturbed, the spores become airborne. This allows them to move to new areas and cause greater problems. Finding the right mold removal option can be a challenge for New Jersey homeowners. A permanent solution is essential, but most homeowners would like to avoid a significant tear-out and reconstruction process.

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