It's very common to find molds in homes and buildings. After all, molds grow naturally indoors. And mold spores enter the home through doorways, windows, and heating and air conditioning systems. Spores also enter the home on animals, clothing, shoes, bags and people.
Mold Growth Signs
Potential Mold Growth Signs
1. High Humidity
Mold needs moisture in order to grow and thrive. Many mold problems originate as a result of some kind of water intrusion, especially those that are not resolved quickly. In which case, water and pipe leaks are common culprits, since they provide plenty of moisture, and are often undetected for days, months, or even years if minor enough.
The importance of mold in the real estate market today
Much has been made of indoor mold in advertising and the media lately, so it’s a common concern for homeowners and buyers. It's common to find mold even in new homes. Whether you’re selling your current home or looking into buying one, it’s vital to get a mold inspection. Presence of active mold can drastically affect the resale value of any home.
For homeowners living in Westchester County or Bronx County, a mold inspection will either put your mind at rest or make you aware of any problems that could otherwise cause delays or deal breakers once you’ve entered negotiations with a buyer. A professional mold inspector will give you a signed lab report before you put the home up for sale. Imagine being able to show a “clean bill of health” to potential buyers that express concerns – they’ll be impressed by your thoroughness and commitment to your home.
For buyers looking in Westchester County, getting a mold inspection by Christopher Greco will ensure that you’re not surprised by costly clean up and the potential health hazards of mold. If any mold is found to be present and active in the home, the mold inspection will allow you to ask or require the seller to do the clean up prior to buying the home.
Exposure to mold
Everyone is exposed to some amount of mold on a daily basis, most without any apparent reaction. Generally mold spores can cause problems when they are present in large numbers and a person inhales large quantities of them. This occurs primarily when there is active mold growth.
For some people, a small exposure to mold spores can trigger an asthma attack or lead to other health problems. For others, symptoms may only occur when exposure levels are much higher.
The health effects of mold can vary. The production of allergens or irritants can cause mild allergic reactions and asthma attacks. The production of potentially toxic mycotoxins can cause more severe reactions, and in rare cases death.
Should I be concerned about mold in my New York home if I live in Westchester County, Bronx County or Beyond?
Yes. If indoor mold is extensive, those in your home can be exposed to very high and persistent airborne mold spores. It is possible to become sensitized to these mold spores and develop allergies or other health concerns, even if one is not normally sensitive to mold.
Left unchecked, mold growth can cause structural damage to your home as well as permanent damage to furnishings and carpet.
According to the Centers for Disease Control*, "It is not necessary, however, to determine what type of mold you may have. All molds should be treated the same with respect to potential health risks and removal."
Can my home be tested for mold?
Mold tests can be divided into two categories: air and surface. If you find it necessary to perform a mold test, then it would be advisable to take at least one surface sample and one air sample. The reason is, in some situations, you may have mold growing on surface, yet it has not reached a point where it is releasing very many mold spores into the air. In which case, air sampling alone would provide results that did not accurately portray the extent of mold growth. Or, you may have a situation where, in your random surface sampling, you did not sample a surface where mold was growing (or at least not at a significant level), but mold colonies throughout other parts of the home had reached a point where they were releasing substantial amounts of mold spores into the air. In this case, your surface sampling would not give you and accurate picture of the problem.
Samples of the indoor air and the outside air are taken for comparison. There should not be any mold inside the house that is not found outside. The concentration of mold inside a home should not be higher than the concentration of mold outside. Keep in mind that mold spores in the air being sampled can vary greatly in relation to the life cycle of the mold, atmospheric and environmental conditions, and the amount of ventilation. There are seasonal and diurnal variability in airborne mold at an indoor residential environment. Air sampling may be necessary if the mold growth is suspected (for example, musty odors), but cannot be identified by a visual examination. The purpose of such air sampling is to determine the location and/or extent of mold contamination as well as a simple confirmation that mold growth exists somewhere in the building. All mold spores have a source, and identifying the source is the goal.
Viable And Non-Viable Mold Sampling
Non-viable air samples refer to samples that are taken on some sticky media or on a filter membrane or tape and subsequently examined directly under a microscope for enumeration and identification of mold spores and hyphal fragments without culturing. In other words, the samples are taken for analyses by direct microscopic examination. This would be the best to take if the objective of air sampling was to have an idea of how contaminated the air is, then the data required would be total counts.
Viable air samples refer to samples that are taken on some growth media and subsequently incubated for mold propagules (spores and/or hyphal fragments) to germinate and form colonies. The resulting colonies are then enumerated and/or transferred to other media for identification to genus or species.
Both method can be used in a mold investigation, it all depends on the objectives of air sampling, the data required and the questions these data are intended to answer.
What Are The Most Common Types and Varieties of Mold?
One of the objectives of mold remediation professionals is to determine what type of mold is present in a property. This is important because it will help the professional and the property owner determine the relative health risk that the mold poses and how best to remediate it. Unfortunately, not all molds are the same, in fact there are over 1.5 millions species of mold in the world. However, only about 100,000 have been identified.
Mold is a fungus, as are mushrooms and yeast, and has a biologicial function as nature’s recycler consuming dead organic matter. Understanding it’s biological importance is essential to understanding why it poses health hazards. For the purposes of mold inspections and remediation, one of our goals is to identify whether or not the mold is allergenic, pathogenic, or toxigenic.
1. Allergenic Molds
Not usually life-threatening but are most problematic for individuals with allergies or asthma. The challenge is figuring out what mold is triggering the reaction. Children are particularly susceptible to mold allergies.
2. Pathogenic Molds
Produce an infection of particular concern if your immune system is weak or compromised. This type of mold can cause hypersensitivity pneumonitis, an acute response resembling bacterial pneumonia. An example is Aspergillus fumigatus, which can grow in the lungs of immune-compromised individuals.
3. Toxigenic Molds (aka “toxic molds”)
Toxic molds produce mycotoxins that will make anyone sick. Possible reactions include immune suppression and cancer. Mycotoxins are chemical toxins present within or on the surface of the mold spore, which can be inhaled, ingested, or touched. An example of this is aflatoxin, one of the most potent carcinogens known to mankind. Aflatoxin grows on peanuts and grains, and on some other foods.
In order to determine the exact species of mold, mold inspectors will usually recommend that a tape or swab sample is taken. Sometimes, air quality tests may also be recommend because air borne mold spores are not visible to the eye; such a test will enable the inspector to report back on the concentration of indoor spores. Samples are then sent to accredited laboratories who analyze them to determine the exact species. Over the years, we have received many lab reports that have identified these five most common indoor molds.
Alternaria is commonly found in your nose, mouth and upper respiratory tract and can cause allergic responses.
Aspergillus is usually found in warm, extremely damp climates, and a common occupant of house dust. This mold produces mycotoxins which is a poisonous chemical compound. This mold variety can cause lung infections, aspergillosis.
Cladosporium is a very common outdoor fungus that can find its way indoors and grow on textiles, wood and other damp, porous materials. This mold triggers hay fever and asthma symptoms.
Penicillium is a very common species found on wallpaper, decaying fabrics, carpet, and fiberglass duct insulation. It is known for causing allergies and asthma. Some species produce mycotoxins, one being the common antibiotic penicillin.
Stachybotrys is extremely toxic “black mold” that produces mycotoxins that can cause serious breathing difficulties and bleeding of the lungs. This mold can be found on wood or paper.
If you have questions or suspect you have mold issues, call us toll free, 1-800-376-8972.
How do I remove mold from my home?
First address the source of moisture that is allowing the mold to grow. Then take steps to clean up the contamination. Many times a licensed mold remediation company is required. Here are helpful links to lean more about cleaning up mold in your home.
*Sources: California Department of Health Services Indoor Air Quality Info Sheet, "Mold in My Home: What Do I Do?" revised July 2001; Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, "Questions and Answers on Stachybotrys chartarum and other molds" last reviewed November 30, 2002.
As stated, mold requires moisture and organic matter to feed upon. High relative humidities are required for germination and growth while lower humidities tend to increase the release of mold spores as a method for self-preservation.
Mold growth is classified as a factor of inhabitable conditions and is required to be taken care of by landlords. This includes having proper inspections done by certified mold inspectors and then having the mold removed from the property by qualified contractors. As tenants you have the right to hire inspectors yourself to get this work done . However, you must give your landlord notice that you are having this work done and give him/her a proper amount of time to fix the issue.
As renters in New York, including Yonkers, Mt. Vernon, Harrison, Rochelle or anywhere else in Bronx and Westchester, you have the right to live in a safe and healthy environment, which includes the quality of air in our homes, or indoor air quality (IAQ). Mold spores circulating in the air can create harmful living situations and lead to health problems for you and your family.
Post Remediation Mold Clearance Inspection / Mold Clearance Testing
The purpose of a mold clearance inspection is to assure that the mold cleanup has been done correctly and effectively in the work area and to confirm that the cleanup did not accidentally distribute high levels of moldy dust and debris into other building areas or into its mechanical systems such as heating or air conditioning systems. To avoid conflicts of interest, mold clearance testing should never be performed by the mold remediation contractor.
Mold exposure systems that can and are often over looked by people and physicians as common, everyday medical complaints include:
If you suspect exposure, seek help of a qualified physician immediately and have your home or work place tested as soon as possible by an environmental specialist like Christopher Greco.
Our mold testing goes beyond just the testing phase. We come in, determine what is happening and why, and offer solutions to correct the problem. Samples are taken and sent to the lab, thermal imaging is performed to scan for moisture behind walls, moisture meter readings are taken and a report is written which specifies what needs to be done.
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