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MOLD – A General Overview:

Probably Not!! But it can still be harmful!! Many people are over reacting to the articles that have been written by many “mold doomsdayers”. The reaction to mold by many people is similar to the country’s initial reaction to germ warfare shortly after the unfortunate terrorist attack on the buildings in New York City. We have learned that germ warfare can be a very serious threat and a problem but only under certain circumstances. But given the opportunity to discuss mold with a CIAQT, CIE, CMR, CMRS, or CIH professional one would soon learn that not all mold problems are as large as some would like YOU to believe. Not everyone is going to die due to mold! In fact, I keep looking in the daily paper to see just who died that day of mold and I have yet to come across a single case in my area. This does not mean that mold has not caused some people in the area some health problems. What it does tell me though is that some people are getting carried away without knowing all the facts about mold. Hopefully, this site will help you to learn more about mold and the problems associated with mold. Look out for mold professionals that scare you with the term “toxic mold”. Watch out for mold professionals who commonly scare clients with the term "toxic mold" the price to fix your problem probably just doubled.

Basically molds are very simple microscopic organisms that can be found almost everywhere within our living environment. Molds can be located on plants, trees, leather, leaves, food, hay and other organic material like oriented stand board (personal favorite). They have a very important function in our world as they are needed for breaking down dead material. Mold spores are not visible in the air. Our world cannot exist without mold but the existence of too much mold within our personal environment can cause serious health problems.

To exist mold basically needs:

a food source – such as starch (wood, hay, paper, oriented strand board)
moisture – such as a leaking pipe, broken hot water heater, flood, leaky roof, humidifier, shower steam, etc.
oxygen – found almost everywhere

Keep in mind that mold is basically everywhere. Without a moisture source mold is not likely to take hold and grow. Take mold and add moisture and within 49 to 72 hours you will more than likely start to see a mold colony growing.

Well, according to the mold doomsdayers if you see any mold you are probably going die and soon!! However, the reality of the situation is that it depends upon your personal health situation. For some people a small amount of colony forming mold can cause health problems. For many of us it may take a lot of colony forming units of mold to cause any health problems, while some people may never show any reaction to mold.

It is important to note that mold can cause health problems
for humans in three different ways.

A. While Growing: If you ingest mold while it is growing on a food source it could cause some health problems. Horses who eat moldy hay sometimes die. Humans who eat moldy foods could like wise develop some health problems.

B. While Drying: Many mold studies suggest that molds start to put off spores when the moisture source around them starts to dry out. The spores of many molds have been found to cause allergy and other health problems.

C. While in Competition: Some people have the conception that all molds are TOXIC. Well…
If this were the case I, and most of my staff, would all be in the ground by now, very dead. What most experts now believe is that many molds are toxigentic. That is they have the capabilities of becoming toxic but are not always in the “toxic” “mold doomdayers” mode. Many labs tell me that when certain molds start to compete against other molds for the same food source they can start to put out what are known as “mycotoxins”. It is these mycotoxins that can lead to potential health problems for some individuals. It is this situation that some people refer to as a “toxic” condition.

Mold is not something that anyone "should" expose themselves to. In fact, I have yet to find a group of college students who will let me expose them to mold to find out who is the most likely to get sick from mold exposure and who not get sick from mold. However, within the industry actual case studies have shown that infants and young children react badly to mold, the elderly no not do well around mold, immune deficient individuals do not do well around mold, pregnant women do not react well to mold and people with allergies or asthma have a tough time around mold. The degree to which a person reacts to mold will differ. It is important to note that mold appears to effect different people in different ways. So, if you ask "Are some molds a bigger problem that others?".. I would have to tell you that would depend on the individual. Certain individuals do tend to be more sensitive to certain mold spores than others. In all the studies that have been done to date I have not seen any studies that pin point any one mold as being more hazardous than another. However, some molds do seem to cause more problems on a consistent basis than others. It should be noted that the EPA in their mold cleaning guidelines do not distinguish between the different types of mold. They hold all molds growing within an indoor environment as a negative - we agree.

The types of reactions or symptoms that have been noted over time and that are a result of mold exposure whether in the spore state or in the actual growth state are:

A. possible fever
B. respiratory problems such as coughing and difficulty in breathing
C. burning, watery or reddened eyes
D. sore throat - sometimes combined with nose and throat irritation
E. shortness of breath
F. central nervous system problems
G. loss of memory
H. constant headaches
I. skin rashes - skin irritation

If you can tell me what caused the moisture that allowed the mold to grow and the problem is a simple one like a leaking bathroom pipe then testing a probably not necessary. Jump to the EPA guidelines on mold clean up, follow their mold clean up directions and be done. However, some people might be concerned about whether the water or moisture problems allowed mold to grow in to other areas where it might not be visible. Under these circumstances testing might be the thing to do. Keep in mind that the cost of testing equipment and qualified labs are expensive. Testing is not cheap. The national average for testing a complete home is $1300 to $4200 depending upon who you call. Our price is from $395 - $525. You should always ask your air quality specialist to give you an idea of what it is going to cost to sample for the air quality problem that you believe that you are having at this time. You should obtain bids from at least 2 companies as prices for the same services vary a great deal.

If you look at the end of this section Soul Environmental has provided you with some links to other mold sites including the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency). They have suggestions for properly remediating small mold problems. If the problem is rather large then we suggest that you call in a "Certified" mold contractor. This contractor should be certified by either the AIAQC (American Indoor Air Quality Association) as a Certified Microbial Remediator Supervisor or the IAQA as a Certified Microbial Remediator.

In the Portland, OR - Vancouver, WA area you can call Erik Viken 503-547-7251 (He is one of many CRM's in th Portland, Or area.) Vancouver 360-281-3777. Other names provided on request.

In the Seattle/Bellevue, WA area, call Paul Davis Restoration (Greg Thode at 1-425-471-2777). Other names provided on request.

Please see the other links available on the Helpful Resources page for other mold cleaning information.

If someone suggests the use of bleach, chlorine or anti-microbial liquids as a method of cleaning up your mold problem please say "so long" or have them justify why they want to use the bioside. The use of biosides and anti microbials are not suggested by the AIAQC or the IAQA. Biosides and anti microbials chemicals can cause their own health problems. Not convinced? Take a look at he EPA and New York City Guidelines on mold remediation. Convinced now? No biosides or bleach please. No gimmicks… just good old hard work. Stop the water problem when cleaning the mold using the AIAQC or IAQA recommendations. Have a contractor who did not follow these standards and now you think you still have a problem? Give me a call … Now :) For future information please reference the book "BIOAREOSOLS - ASSESSMENT AND CONTROL" put out by the ACGIH.

~ Call "Stuart McMullen" The Mold Man ~
Serving Eugene-Portland-Salem-Olympia-Tacoma-Seattle

1-866-759-4915 Toll Free

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