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Question: If mold has been around forever, why is it a problem having it in my house or in my business?
Answer: You are correct, mold has always been with us in our environment - as a matter of fact, mold is even mentioned in the bible, in Leviticus 14:35-67. The problem comes when we are exposed to high concentrations of mold spores and their mycotoxins - the potentially harmful substance that mold produces.
Question: Why do I have visible mold growth?
Answer: Invisible individual mold spores germinate and then reproduce forming visible colonies of hyphae (mold plants) when they receive both moisture and organic material (plant food). Visible mold colonies indicate that porous items remained wet for an extended amount of time.
Question: Is it safe to turn up the heat and put a fan on mold?
Answer: The simple answer is no. Once a mold colony is visible there is a potential for millions of mold spores to be present in one square inch. So, like dandelion seeds, mold spores will take flight upon any air movement.
The more air movement the greater the chance of contaminating the rest of your home through natural air movements, and through your heating and air conditioning system.
Mold colonies thrive in warm and damp indoor environments. The more heat the faster the mold will grow, producing massive numbers of spores.
Question: So why exactly is mold so bad for me?
Answer: Both live and dead mold spores are allergens that can cause and trigger asthma attacks and allergic reactions. The mold plant can also produce mycotoxins which can cause adverse health effects ranging from suppression of the immune system, skin rashes, impacts upon the nervous system (headaches, dizziness, fatigue, muscle and joint pain, nausea, depression and memory loss), vomiting and diarrhea, and can also affect the vascular system by damaging the outer lining of the blood vessels.
Question: Why can’t I just use regular laundry bleach to get rid of the mold?
Answer: Using bleach to clean up mold does more harm than good. It used to be acceptable to use bleach, or an antimicrobial to kill or control mold. But further research indicated that this was only worsening the problem. These studies found that:
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Question: Once the moldy materials are dry is the mold dead?
Answer: No, once the moldy materials are dry the mold is just dormant. If and when the materials get wet, the mold will start growing again immediately.
Question: Why can’t I remove the mold myself?
Answer: You need to protect yourself from the mold spores and mycotoxins. For full protection, this requires a full face respirator with HEPA and organic vapor filters, Tyvek suits, and disposable gloves. Mold spores and mycotoxins are absorbed through your eyeballs, and go directly into your blood stream, so it is important to have a full face and not a half face respirator. Most home owners don’t have access to these items.
The area in need of remediation needs to be contained from the rest of the home to prevent cross contamination. Containment is a very involved process of building decontamination chambers with 6 millimeter thick plastic barrior walls to isolate the mold affected areas.
HEPA air scrubbers and negative air machines need to be used during the remediation process. Once containment has been set up, a negative air flow needs to be created to prevent cross contamination. These pieces of equipment are not available to most homeowners.
Proper removal and HEPA vacuuming procedures of the mold contaminated items need to be followed to ensure that all of the mold, mold spores, and mycotoxins are removed.
Sanding and soda blasting of studs and sill plates need to be completed to remove the mold roots from the wood. Without removing the roots, the mold will immediately start growing if the same material gets wet again.
Question: Is mold remediation covered by my homeowners insurance?
Answer: Maybe yes or maybe no. It all depends upon the insurance company and your policy. Some insurance companies will cover mold remediation if it is due to a covered water loss. If the mold is due to water seepage, or a non-covered loss, the mold remediation will usually not be covered. Some insurance companies will not cover any mold remediation at all. All insurance companies and policies are different, so make sure to call your insurance agent first to determine your coverage.
Bleach doesn’t control 100% of the mold growth. Let's say you did a great job and got a 90% kill on the mold with your bleach clean-up. That means out of a 10 billion plant mold colony you killed 9 billion leaving 1 billion fungi to grow and spread.
The remaining mold that was not killed now has the dead mold that was killed as an additional food source to create a bigger colony than before. Since bleach is 99% water, you have added additional water in which the mold can flourish and grow.
Mold spores are allergens - it doesn’t matter if the spore is viable or nonviable (alive or dead). The only way to remediate spores is to remove them from the indoor environment.
While you were bleaching the mold colonies some colonies will produce a mycotoxin to try to kill whatever is trying to kill it (YOU!). In many ways, mycotoxins are more dangerous than the mold itself (see the possible health effects of mycotoxins above, in the answer to the question 'So why exactly is mold bad for me?').
Mold, like the dandelion, has a root structure. Bleach doesn’t kill any of the root system, and with viable roots intact the mold will regrow.
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