| MOMS, BE CONCERNED ABOUT MOLD!
Danielle Dobbs, mold inspector
Author of MOLD MATTERS - Solutions and Prevention
Children, the elderly, and people with depressed immune systems due to cancer,
organ transplants, or AIDS, can become very sick when exposed to higher than
normal levels of mold. Even some healthy individuals happen to be very
sensitive to mold and are unable to tolerate a slight elevation of mold spores.
Mold, scientifically known as fungi (singular: fungus), is not new - it’s been
around since the beginning of time and is a normal occurrence. Mold spores are
found everywhere, even in Antarctica. The amount of spores in the air fluctuates
day to day according to geographical locations, temperature, and the weather.
Mold is abundant - there are between 1.3 to 3 millions species of mold, and they
come in all kinds of colors. Some are common, and some are rare. Some are
known to be toxic.
Mold can be classified into three broad categories as far as health effects are
concerned. The first category is allergenic molds, which cause allergic or
asthmatic reactions, but do not usually cause permanent health effects in most
healthy, active people. There are pathogenic molds, which can cause serious
health problems in those who are more susceptible. And finally, there are toxic
molds that can cause serious health problems in everybody. The severity of
these problems differs depending on age, immune system, and sensitivity.
Mold becomes a problem when it is growing inside our homes. A mold problem
is, above all, a water or humidity problem. Without moisture mold spores cannot
grow. Thus it behooves homeowners to practice mold prevention through regular
maintenance and being vigilant in making prompt repairs when leaks occur. One
must remember that within 24 to 48 hours following leaks, mold can start
Mold serves a good purpose in life by breaking down dead organic material,
because without it, we would be living in a trash heap. To reproduce itself mold
ejects microscopic spores (seeds) into the air. When a spore lands in a good
environment with food (dead organic material such as wood or drywall) and
water, it starts to grow. It then sends hyphae (tree-root like system) into the
material and these hyphae emit enzymes that rot and digest the material it is
sitting on. If anyone has tried to “clean up” mold and has seen it coming back, it
is due to those hyphae that stay embedded in the material. A few weeks
following the cleaning, mold reappears because the root system is still in the
material, and similar to a plant, it grows back if moisture continues to be present.
Certain types of mold do not even need a leak in order to grow. If the relative
humidity of the air (RH) is above 60% some mold can take the humidity from the
air and start growing on walls, furniture, and personal effects.
Sometimes people have no idea that a problem has taken place until they get
sick. Plumbing leaks in showers are notorious for being unnoticed for a long
period of time before being discovered. If mold is suspected, call a mold
inspector who will be able to detect whether a mold problem exists and if so
where it is coming from. Before hiring a professional, it is important to obtain
credentials and references. Mold detection is not an exact science, thus
experience often equals expertise.
If your child seems to have constant allergies, it might be due to mold.
Collecting air samples with a corresponding outside control is the only way to
assess the air quality, with respect to mold spores, inside the home.
In 2005 researchers from the Mayo Clinic found that fungi play a large role in
chronic rhinosinusitis. In fact, the findings indicates that chronic rhinosinusitis is
a result of a fungal driven inflammation rather than a bacterial infection.
Indoor air quality problems in schools affect both students and teachers. The
following statistics were published on February 2, 2005 by the IEQ Review:
One in five schools in America has indoor air quality problems.
Asthma accounts for 14 million missed school days each year.
The rate of asthma in young children has risen by 160 percent in the past 15
1 out of every 13 school-age children has asthma.
The Center for Indoor Environments and Health at the University of Connecticut
states “the most common types of illnesses directly related to mold are type I
responses of allergic rhinitis and asthma.” They go on to say “… allergic
inflammation can trigger bronchospasm, chest tightness, and shortness of
breath, leading to either new onset of asthma or asthma exacerbation in
Poor maintenance in schools and lack of money are often cited as excuses for
mold problems, but little is done about it. This does not only pertain to public
schools; some private schools are just as bad. Many university dorms,
regardless of school prestige, are in poor condition and some harbor mold.
Students accept these conditions as status quo and fail to complain. This
situation does not have to be. If money can be found to modernize a gym and
re-sod the school lawn, money can be found to maintain buildings properly. Air
quality should be a priority of any institution, and parents and teachers should
For more information on mold, one can sign up to receive a free monthly
newsletter on mold at www.bookonmold.com.
Danielle Dobbs, Mold Inspector
Dobbs Enterprises, Inc.