Molds are a normal and natural occurrence in nature. They serve important functions in the environment by breaking down dead organic matter such as wood and leaves. When it comes to indoor molds, their function is counterproductive, and as a result, they should be eliminated. This is because they produce allergen irritants and in some cases toxic substances known as mycotoxins that can cause allergic responses, including sneezing, runny nose, red eyes, skin rashes, headaches, and other hay fever-like symptoms. In most instances, symptoms from inhaling mold spores do not go beyond basic hay fever-like reactions; however, for some individuals, especially those with allergies, hay fever, and asthma can experience much more severe symptoms including” fever, severe headaches, pulmonary bleeding, and even brain damage.
As with most disease-causing agents, it is the elderly and young who suffer the most from mold exposure. Also at risk are those with weakened immune systems. Molds are comprised of spores that are not visible to the naked eye. Through natural processes, these spores become airborne and can travel great distances, and if what they eventually land on is organic and moist, they will grow. It doesn’t matter if the landing surface is indoors or outdoors. There are thousands of different types of molds; however, none of them will grow without a continuous source of water. This means that it is likely that when the mold is cleaned up, it will return if the water source is not eliminated.
Some have speculated that the reason for heightening awareness of dangers associated with mold is due to media more than it is because of increased occurrences, however, it is clear that mold grows best on processed paper-like products and it is a fact that the construction industry uses much more paper products than it did in years past. Generally, today’s modern consumers much prefer the look of paper-based drywall over the brick in the interior of their homes. These paper-based materials combined with the right moisture content can be breeding grounds for mold. Additionally, homes built after the 1970’s are much more airtight than they were proceeding previous eras. This is due to improvements in construction materials and the advent of improved insulation and sealing agents such as caulk. The simple fact is that houses are built tighter today than ever before and this means they provide better environments for mold growth.
Causes of Mold
As established, mold will not grow without a source of water. This is the key to understanding how to prevent it and how and why it may invade a home. Following are nine examples of unsuspected sources of mold entry:
1. Defects in construction, such as gaps between siding and the framing of a house.
2. A leaky roof.
3. A damp crawl space.
4. Poorly ventilated bathrooms.
5. A humidifier.
6. A leaky washer hose.
7. A faulty ice maker.
8. Over-watered plants.
9. Pet doors. Of course, the list of why and how mold can grow in a home goes on and on.