one of the major consequences of fire damage and wind damage. Why the hype?
Hasn't this organism been around since early recorded history?
Some would say the 'fear factor' originated in the media or as a
self-perpetuating phenomenon that began in the legal system.
Regardless of the primary cause, the fact still remains that
indoor mold contamination has the attention of the public and
professional community for very real reasons.
all cellulose-based building materials are often contaminated with mold
spores and mold growth infestation explains how fungal growth can occur within buildings
where such materials have become wet. Many common building
materials may serve as food source for fungi. books, papers,
drywall gypsum boards wood products, carpeting, furniture,
drapery, and organic dust landed or deposited on walls, floors,
and inside heating/cooling equipment and ducts are such sources.
Fungi will grow at
a board temperature range, including temperatures comfortable
for building occupants. When moisture becomes available, the
stage is set for fungi to flourish. Thus, the most important
factor in mold growth is the water activity; a quantity that
measures the amount of free unbound water in a substrate.
Mold problems are linked to wet
building materials and furnishings and to standing
water resulting from fire, fire damage, flooding, water damage
and leaky roofs. If standing water and water soaked
materials are left un-dried---in just 24 hours molds could start
The following is the fact sheet
developed by The New York City Health Department "to
address some of the most common questions and concerns regarding
From: Facts About Mold
Author: New York City Department of Health Office of
Environmental and Occupational Epidemiology
Facts About Mold
What is mold and
where is it found?
(fungi) is present everywhere - indoors and outdoors.
There are more than 100,000 species of mold. At least 1,000
species of mold are common in the U.S. Some of the most commonly
found are species of Cladosporium, Penicillium, and Aspergillus.
Mold is most likely to grow where there is water or dampness -
such as in bathrooms and basements.
How can mold
affect your health?
Most types of mold that are routinely encountered are not
hazardous to healthy individuals. However, too much exposure to
mold may cause or worsen conditions such as asthma, hay fever,
or other allergies. The most common symptoms of overexposure are
persistent (cough), congestion, runny nose, eye irritation, skin
rash, headaches, fatigue, nosebleeds, and aggravation of asthma.
Depending on the amount of exposure and a person's individual
vulnerability, more serious health effects - such as fevers and
breathing problems - can occur but are unusual.
How can you be
exposed to mold?
When moldy material becomes damaged or disturbed, spores
(reproductive bodies similar to seeds) can be released into the
air. Exposure can occur if people inhale the spores, directly
handle moldy materials, or accidentally ingest it. Also, mold
can sometimes produce chemicals called mycotoxins. Mycotoxins
may cause illness in people who are sensitive to them or if they
are exposed to large amounts in the air. Large exposures are
typically associated with certain occupations (e.g.,
How does mold
All molds need water to grow. Mold can grow almost anywhere
there is water damage, high humidity, or dampness. Most often
molds are confined to areas near the source of water. Removing
the source of moisture - such as through repairs or
dehumidification - is critical to preventing mold growth.
Stachybotrys chartarum (also known as Stachybotrys atra) is a
type of mold that has been associated with health effects in
people. It is a greenish-black mold that can grow on materials
with a high cellulose content - such as drywall sheetrock,
dropped ceiling tiles, and wood - that become chronically moist
or water-damaged, due to excessive humidity, water leaks,
condensation, or flooding.
How can you
tell if Stachybotrys chartarum is present in your home?
Many molds are black in appearance but are not
Stachybotrys. For example, the black mold commonly found between
bathroom tiles is not Stachybotrys. Stachybotrys can be
positively identified only by specially trained professionals
(e.g., mycologists) through a microscopic exam.
Stachybotrys chartarum affect your health?
Typically, indoor air levels of Stachybotrys are low; however,
as with other types of mold, at higher levels health effects can
occur. These include allergic rhinitis (cold-like symptoms),
dermatitis (rashes), sinusitis, conjunctivitis, and aggravation
of asthma. Some related symptoms are more general - such as
inability to concentrate and fatigue. Usually, symptoms
disappear after the contamination is removed.
There has been some evidence
linking Stachybotrys with pulmonary hemosiderosis in infants who
are generally less than six months old. Pulmonary hemosiderosis
is an uncommon condition that results from bleeding in the
lungs. In studied cases of pulmonary hemosiderosis, the exposure
to Stachybotrys came from highly contaminated dwellings, where
the infants were continually exposed over a long period of time.
you do if mold is present in your home or apartment?
Although any visible mold can be sampled by an
environmental consultant and/or analyzed by a laboratory
specializing in microbiology, these tests can be very expensive
- from hundreds to thousands of dollars. There is no simple and
cheap way to sample the air in your home to find out what types
of mold are present and whether they are airborne. Even if you
have your home tested, it is difficult to say at what levels
health effects would occur. Therefore, it is more important get
rid of the mold rather than find out more about it.
effective way to treat mold is to correct underlying water
damage and clean the affected area.
mold be cleaned?
Mold should be cleaned as soon as it appears. Persons cleaning
mold should be free of symptoms and allergies. Small areas of
mold should be cleaned using a detergent/soapy solution or an
appropriate household cleaner. Gloves should be worn during
cleaning. The cleaned area should then be thoroughly dried.
Dispose of any sponges or rags used to clean mold.
If the mold returns quickly or
spreads, it may indicate an underlying problem such as a leak.
Any underlying water problems must be fixed to successfully
eliminate mold problems. If mold contamination is extensive, a
professional abatement company may need to be consulted.
Will my health
or my child's health be affected, and should we see a physician?
If you believe that you or your children have symptoms that you
suspect are caused by exposure to mold, you should see a
physician. Keep in mind that many symptoms associated with mold
exposure may also be caused by many other illnesses. You should
tell your physician about the symptoms and about when, how, and
for how long you think you or your children were exposed.
[Contact Us] [Mold Problems] [About Fire] [About Wind] [About Mold Inspector Laboratory, LLC] [Mold Expert Consultant] [Site Map] [Mold Water Damage] [Mold Products & Services] [Expert Advice Web Sites]