Mold Awareness Month is among us in its 7th consecutive year to raise awareness about the health risks linked to the presence of mold. With that being said, we would like to inform you of how important it is to be aware of mold in your surroundings, and how to solve your mold problem from start to finish.
Keeping your home safe and mold free contributes greatly to the health of your family members and the prosperity of your home. Mold comes in many forms and can grow in many different places. Mold can grow on virtually any organic material as long as moisture and oxygen are present, which means mold can grow almost EVERYWHERE.
Mold is omnipresent and you may have noticed that you’ve always seen it around. This could cause you to question, “I’ve never felt the effects of mold, what makes it dangerous?” Reactions to mold sometimes don’t happen instantly. The immediate (Level 1) symptoms of mold exposure are sometimes the same as cold symptoms & common ailments such as headaches, watery eyes, sneezing and vomiting. The second stage of mold exposure symptoms (Level 2) include chronic fatigue, loss of appetite, ear infections and even bronchitis. The most advanced (Level 3) symptoms which give mold its nickname “the silent killer” are blindness, brain damage, cancer and death. All of the above symptoms can be prevented by having your home inspected and properly remedied.
Below are the steps to take if you find your home may have a mold problem:
5 STEPS TO SOLVING YOUR MOLD PROBLEM
Step 1: Write down which areas in your home may have mold and what the mold looks like. This information will be requested is important to have on hand.
Step 2: Call your homeowner’s insurance company to find out what mold coverage you have within your policy. You may also need to contact your Homeowners Association and ask if certain areas in your home covered under them, or your personal insurance.
Step 3: Call your local mold detection service company and set up an appointment to have your home checked. This process is known as a Pre-Remediation Assessment. Be sure to only use a certified mold inspector.
Step 4: After the results are in, choose a remediation company to extract the mold from your home. This process is called Mold Remediation. Again, be sure to only use a certified/licensed remediation company to ensure the proper removal of materials containing mold.
Step 5: Schedule a Post Remediation Verification Assessment to obtain a Clearance Certificate to allow new construction (carpet replacement, building, etc.…) to begin and to ensure all mold is removed.
After these 5 steps, you will have the relief of knowing that you are living in a mold-free environment. Not only is it important to be aware of mold issues in your home, but it can also be an issue in buildings of any kind including businesses, churches, schools and restaurants. Be sure to take care of mold issues at the earliest sign, as this can make all the difference to protect those around you and your investments.
Recommended Links: Air Quality Assessors Website
Have you ever felt fatigue, coughing and sneezing, shortness of breath, nosebleeds, or increased asthma problems in your work place? Normally one would not think that all these problems could be caused by a building…well they can. It is known as “Sick Building Syndrome”. Sick Building Syndrome is considered by some in the medical field to be an illness in people who have been exposed to undefined chemical, biological, or physical agents that are thought to be found in buildings. Indoor air quality testing is crucial in buildings and properties to determine if the structure is “sick” or healthy.
In the 1970s a movement was set in motion by builders and authorities to seal up buildings the best they could to save on fuels for air conditioning and heating. Many buildings became air tight which left no room for clean air to filter in (inadequate ventilation), which in return set the building up for pollution. Examples of pollution that occurred: carbon monoxide build-ups, possibility of indoor combustion (heaters, ranges and smokers), and the release of inhalable particles (Volatile Organic Compounds, airborne allergens, and pathogens). As a way for buildings to have better Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) and minimize energy consumption, the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) revised the standards of ventilation from 5 cfm(cubic feet per minute) per occupant to a minimum of 15 cfm provided of outdoor air per person (20 cfm/person in office spaces). ("Sick Building Syndrome (SBS) - Indoor Air Pollution Testing." Sick Building Syndrome (SBS) - Indoor Air Pollution Testing. N.p.)
There can be many factors that cause Sick Building Syndrome and one is biological contaminants (bacteria, molds, pollen and viruses). Biological pollutants can cause illness through three different methods-: 1. Infection, 2. Allergy/Hypersensitivity, and 3.Toxicosis. A contaminant’s source could be from water(water is a breeding ground for mold) that has accummulated in places such as humidifers, a/c ducts, drain pans; or where water has been collected on carpeting, ceiling tiles or insulation. Outside elements have an effect on biological contaminants such as temperature , humidity or lighting. Another factor could be a source that is already in the building like carpeting, upholstery, wood products, cleaning agents and copy machines. Certain factors emit volatile organic compounds (VOCs) which research has shown can cause very serious health issues when at high concentrations. VOCs that may be emitted from items like flooring, varnishes, and gasoline can contain: formaldehyde, acetone, ethylene glycol, benzene and tolune.
How does one know that their building is “sick”? For the most part, it is from complaints of the buildings occupants. Building occupants may have symptoms including: headaches, throat, nose, and eye irritation, dry cough, dry or itchy skin, dizziness, nausea; or more serious symptoms like fatigue, sensitivity to odors, and development of respiratory illness. The source that is causing the occupants symptoms is unknown; however occupants have said to have felt relief once they exited the building. A good way to know that your building should be inspected is when a group of occupants have or show the same symptoms. Air Quality Assessors will walk through the suspected Sick Building and do a thorough inspection to try and locate the source that has been causing sickness. Testing will be done to see whether the indoor air quality levels reach the standard of safety or not. Once again is it not always known what causes Sick Building Syndrome and sometimes the source cannot be found. What can be done is an IAQ test to ensure that the occupants of the building are safe or to find out whether the building is actually sick.
Indoor Air Quality- Allergens
Allergens are found all over the world both inside and out! More than 50 million people in America are allergic to something. Homes or businesses that have poor indoor air quality make people more susceptible to the development of infections, lung cancer, and asthma. The most common cause for allergic reactions are from airborne allergens. Airborne allergens include: Bacteria, Mold, Dust Mites, Pet Dander, Cockroaches/bugs, Smoke, Formaldehyde, and VOCs (volatile organic compound).
DID YOU KNOW?
Facts according to WebMD about allergens
-Number of people in the U.S. who have either allergy or asthma symptoms : 1 in 5
-Rank of allergies among other leading chronic diseases in the U.S. : 5th
-Degree by which levels of indoor pollution in U.S. homes exceed levels of outdoor pollution: 2 to 100 times, depending on factors such as whether the residents smoke
-7.7% of people in the U.S. have asthma
-Increase in the prevalence of asthma in U.S. children under age 5 between 1980 and 1994: 160%
-Number of deaths each year in the U.S. from asthma: about 4,000
“Allergens.” Indoor Air Quality RSS. N.p., n.d. Web 01 July 2015
Common Allergy & Asthma Symptoms
Allergy: Runny nose, itchy eyes, coughing, circles around the eye, and symptoms that seem to linger/not go away. Asthma: wheezing, difficulty breathing, tightness of chest and/or a whistle sound when you breathe.
People spend 90% of their time indoors, which makes it very important to have good indoor air quality in your home/business. The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that the average person receives 72% of their chemical exposure in the home. To know the quality of your homes air, have an Air Quality Assessor come perform an air quality assessment. The assessment will include a sampling method that will test for: mold, allergens, dust mites, pollen, cockroaches, cat, dog, bacteria and more. There are many different ways to reduce the amount of indoor allergens in your home. Some are listed below:
-Keep surfaces in your home clean and uncluttered to reduce dust mites
-Vacuum once or twice a week (vacuuming does put dust in the air so use a vacuum with a HEPA filter or special filter bags if possible)
-Keeping doors and windows closed will help prevent the entry of pollen
-Dehumidifiers help reduce the moisture in the home (moisture is a breeding ground for mold spores)
-Control cockroaches- don’t leave food or garbage uncovered. Use poison baits, boric acid and traps rather than chemical agents (chemical agents can increase allergic/asthmatic reactions)
The Worldwide Pest
1. Penicillium is a genus of ascomycetous fungi of major importance in the natural environment as well as food and drug production.
2. Scientific name: Penicillium
3. Rank: Genus
4. Higher classification: Trichocomaceae
5. Lower classifications: Penicillium coralligerum, Penicillium marneffei,Penicillium herquei
The pest I am going to tell you about is one of the most notorious creatures of its kind. This pest can be found all over the world in almost every type of setting. The most common places where this pest can be found are: soil, food, grains, carpets, wall paper, organic substances, fiber glass insulation and more. It loves to show up first to mark its territory on anything that has had water damage. There are over 200 species of this pest and some of them can produce mycotoxins (any toxic substance produced by a fungus), which is what affects humans health!
Want to know something unbelievable about this pest? This pest helped create a drug that is still used today to fight off infections that cause bacteria -Penicillin. Penicillin was discovered by Alexander Fleming after one of his staphylococci cultures was cross contaminated by mold spores from an open window nearby. It was a significant discovery in medical history and later in 1945 even won a Nobel Peace Prize.
All right back to what makes this pest a pest! The Worldwide Pest has a rapid growth rate and the colonies (appearance) are normally a green-bluish color but has even been spotted as yellow, white and grey green. You do not want this mold in your home! It can cause a numerous amount of health issues ranging from the simple sore throat all the way to pulmonary emphysema. Like many other molds, the pest tends to affect humans that have a weakened immune/respiratory system. The Pest can cause allergic reactions and asthma attacks so severe that sometimes people describe the reaction almost as if they were suffocating. This Worldwide Pest can produce many toxins such as: penicillic acid, peptide nephrotoxin, viomellein, xanthomegin,xanthocillin X, mycophenolic acid and more that have the ability to damage kidneys, increase the chance of cancer, as well as, leave you more susceptible to pulmonary infections.
The best way to find out if there is Penicillium in your home is to have your home assessed by an indoor air quality specialist; that’s where Air Quality Assessors steps in! Air Quality Assessors has a staff of fully licensed assessors who can walk through your home and take samples of anywhere they think has mold or other air quality issues. The pest can be in many different forms whether in the air as particulates or as visible mold on a material. It is best to have your home assessed to know whether the pest has reached its danger level or not. People who have compromised immune systems should take the precautionary steps and have their home assessed to help delay or stop future health problems.
Mr. Common Combative
Cladosporium is one of the most widespread molds because it can be found in nature as well as indoors.
Mr. Common Combative is one popular bad guy who loves to pick on humans who have allergies and asthma. He attends parties where the Respiratory Rival (Aspergillus) and his friends (Penicillium and Wallemia Sebi) will be since he is a secondary wall colonizer- aka a follower! Never underestimate Mr. Common Combative for he can be found in almost every nook and cranny of your property (bathroom, carpets, air ducts, attics, furniture and more).
Mr. Common Combat has around 40 different disguises (species) and each disguise has its own act (place to be found)! Listed below are his 4 most favorite disguises.
Cladiosporium sphaerospermum- This frequently encountered species has been isolated from air, soil, gypsum board, acrylic painted walls, painted wood, wallpaper, carpet and mattress dust, HVAC fans, wet insulations in mechanical cooling units, foodstuffs, paint and textiles.
Cladiosporium Cladosporioides- A cosmopolitan species which has been isolated from meat, soil, air, textiles and paint.
Cladiosporium Macrocarpum- A cosmopolitan species which has been isolated from dead plants, soil, indoor air, apple juice concentrates and seeds.
What is most dangerous about Mr. Common Combative? As mentioned earlier, he loves to pick on humans that suffer from allergies and asthma. He has the ability to trigger allergic reactions in humans with compromised immune systems which can cause rashes, itchy eyes, sudden muscle spasms, breathing difficulty, congestion and more! Some humans can be immune to him if they do not have the certain sensitivities that other humans possess (Cladiosporium emits no toxins).
Having homes/properties assessed by a licensed Air Quality Assessor is always a great weapon to use, because they can tell how much of Mr. Common Combative is around or in the air. For humans suffering from asthma or allergies, it is very important to keep the home/property at a safe level to lower the chances of an allergic reaction or respiratory problems from occurring. Mr. Common Combative produces more than 10 types of antigens (any substance that causes your immune system to produce antibodies against it) which increases the risk of an asthma attack. If a human notices an increase in his or her asthma symptoms and believes the reason to be Mr. Common Combative or his friends, contact an Air Quality Assessor to come in immediately!
The Respiratory Rival
Part 2 of the Mold-ifying Series
By: Amy Gallagher
1. the action of breathing.
"opiates affect respiration"
a single breath.
plural noun: respirations
a process in living organisms involving the production of energy, typically with the intake of oxygen and the release of carbon dioxide from the oxidation of complex organic substances
Itchy eyes, sore throat, coughing and runny nose are all common signs that the Respiratory Rival has entered your territory. She shows little to no mercy to humans that have weakened immune systems, allergies or damaged lungs. Her ability to sneak in through air vents, pets, and water-damaged properties makes her a fierce competitor! Once she has entered your territory, she settles down in places that favor mold growth (areas that provide warmth, moisture, high humidity) like your bathroom or kitchen. The best way to know that she has entered the game is to have your territory assessed by an Air Quality Assessor! The Air Quality Assessor knows that she is a stealth competitor that doesn’t like to show her face all the time, so he takes samples of the air to catch some of the dangerous spores she radiates.
The Respiratory Rival has many different methods of attacking, but for the most part she targets your respiratory system. Aspergillus can have many different forms (species) and cause different diseases. Listed below are some of the most dangerous forms of your rival:
The group of diseases that Aspergillus exposure can cause is called Aspergillosis. The main types of Aspergillosis are: Allergic bronchopulmonary aspergillosis (can cause coughing of blood), Acute invasive aspergillosis (can cause infectious pneumonia) and Disseminated invasive aspergillosis (can spread through your entire body). Another disease to take note of before your battle against the rival is Chronic Pulmonary Aspergillosis which can infect your body and start to grow inside your lung cavities. The Respiratory Rival can leave her spell on you in many different forms: Allergic reactions, fungal mass development, infections, fatigue, nosebleeds, wheezing and more.
If you think you are starting to show symptoms of the Rival, it is highly suggested that you see your doctor! Sometimes you don’t know that she has even started the game until it’s too late! The best way to stop the Respiratory Rival before she takes things too far would be to have your home assessed by a licensed mold assessor (Air Quality Assessors); The assessor can let you know if she (the rival) has elevated her game (increased spore count) and invaded your home or if she never started the game to begin with!
Part 1 of the "Mold-ifying" Series
“The Quiet Killer”
This killer has no boundaries and shows no mercy for homeowners/businesses. Don’t dare think you can stop all of it with regular bleach or other household disinfectants. A trained team will be needed in order to catch and eliminate this quiet killer. Mold hides in non-porous materials like drywall and hardwood flooring or where moisture and water is/has been present (moisture & water are the Quiet Killer’s life source). It can be lurking, growing and producing mycotoxins for weeks until found. “Mycotoxins” aka the killer’s minions: extremely toxic, take 8-12days to make their appearance and then they slowly break down your body’s defense, causing very serious health issues (sore throat, headaches, chronic muscle pain and in worse cases they can/will kill you)…malicious little monsters! Signs that the Quiet Killer has marked his next target include: the smell of its musty cologne, its yellow moisture stained drawings on the wall or show signs of his curse (coughing, nausea, headaches and more). Its nasty, greenish-black demeanor means business!
How does one win against this “Quiet Killer”?
The killer can grow where there is or has been moisture or water related problems. Look for places in your home/business that are susceptible to water or moisture damage like: A/C unit, Bathroom, Laundry Room or Attic... This is where the battle will take place. The best way to eliminate the Quiet Killer is to have a specialized team come in to destroy it! Since no one ever knows the extent of damage the Quiet Killer has caused, having an Air Quality Assessor on your side is the best way to know what you are up against! The assessor’s findings helps him conjure up a strategic battle plan (protocol report for remediation services) for you to use against/destroy the Quiet Killer. Since the killer is very toxic, it is necessary to have a licensed removal force (remediation companies) fight on your side during the battle! The removal team sticks to the battle plan drawn up by the assessor and removes all traces of the killer and his minions. Once the removal team has done the fighting/killing, the Air Quality Assessor comes back into play and makes sure, once and for all, the Quiet Killer has been defeated and all is safe.