Mold – Health and Safety

What Is Mold?

Mold is fungi that grows in the form of multicellular filaments called Hyphae. Mold will often cause disintegration of organic matter. There are approximately 200,000 species of mold. Mold requires 4 things to grow and thrive, they are temperature, oxygen, water, and food.

Mold prefers the same temperatures that humans do. Some molds can grow below freezing temperatures. Molds use extra-cellular digestion to convert organic matter such as paper, wood, drywall, and cellulose in to a food source. Fungi can grow on almost any surface that has sufficient nutrients. Just like humans, mold must have water to survive and continue growing. Since it is nearly impossible to control the temperature, oxygen, and food source for mold in a normal human habitat the only solution is to control the source of water.

Molds release spores in order to reproduce. Indoors these airborne spores collect on surfaces where the needed aspects of growth occur. Some fungi can germinate in as little as 4 hours. Fungi can begin to grow and spread in as little as 24-72 hours.

Can mold cause health problems?

Molds have the potential to cause health problems.  Molds produce allergens (substances that can cause allergic reactions), irritants, and in some cases, potentially toxic substances (mycotoxins).  Inhaling or touching mold or mold spores may cause allergic reactions in sensitive individuals.  Allergic responses include hay fever-type symptoms, such as sneezing, runny nose, red eyes, and skin rash (dermatitis).  Allergic reactions to mold are common.  They can be immediate or delayed.  Molds can also cause asthma attacks in people with asthma who are allergic to mold.  In addition, mold exposure can irritate the eyes, skin, nose, throat, and lungs of both mold-allergic and non-allergic people.  Symptoms other than the allergic and irritant types are not commonly reported as a result of inhaling mold.  Research on mold and health effects is ongoing.

Does ultraviolet (UV) radiation from UV lamps kill mold?

Typical UVGI cleaners used in homes have limited effectiveness in killing bacteria and molds. Effective destruction of some viruses and most mold and bacterial spores usually requires much higher UV exposure than is provided in a typical home unit. Furthermore, dead mold spores can still produce allergic reactions, so UVGI cleaners may not be effective in reducing allergy and asthma symptoms.

What is the difference between Mold and Mildew?

Mildew refers to certain kinds of mold or fungus.  The term mildew is often used generically to refer to mold growth, usually with a flat growth habit.
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