Frequently Asked Questions

What is mold?

Mold is a type of fungus. It is part of a living organism that is common and serves an important role in the environment. Penicillin is a type of mold as is yeast.

What is toxic mold?

The term ‘toxic mold’ is not accurate. Some mold can be toxigenic, which means they can produce toxins. Some people are more sensitive to mold than others.

How do I know if I have mold in my home?

Mold is everywhere and everyone has mold in their homes. If you can see mold or you have an earthy, musty smell then likely mold is present.

What makes mold grow?

Mold needs moisture, and food (cellulose, wood, plasterboard, ceiling tiles, cardboard etc) to grow. As some types of mold can colonize within 48-72 hours it’s important to clean up moisture as soon as possible. Mold is most likely to be found in bathrooms, kitchens and basements. It can grow elsewhere if the conditions are right. If we keep our homes dry and clean, mold will not grow.

I have found a black fuzzy substance under my counters, is this toxic mold?

When you have had a water leak, mold often follows. Generally it is not necessary to identify the species of mold growing in a residence. It is recommended that you clean the mold and repair the water leaks. If it is growing under your counters and it returns after cleaning, it may be necessary to replace the counters. Generally counters are made from fiberboard with a laminate covering. Mold loves to grow on cellulose material.

How do I clean up mold?

I recommend the use of rubber gloves and a mask when cleaning up mold. Vacuum loose mold with a hepa or central vacuum. Wash with regular detergent and rinse with clean water. Dry thoroughly. Wash your clothing after cleaning up mold. It is recommended that homeowners only clean areas that are smaller than 10 square feet.

How does mold affect people?

People with allergies often have sensitivities to mold. Exposure to mold can cause symptoms such as nasal congestion, eye irritation, dizziness, fatigue, wheezing and skin irritation. Severe reactions may include shortness of breath, fever, and memory loss. Everyone has a different tolerance to allergens so not everyone will experience these symptoms.

Can I paint over mold?

It is not recommended to paint over mold. Painting over mold only masks the problem. You should clean it and let it dry completely.

Does cleaning stop the mold from growing?

Mold will continue to reappear until the moisture problem is solved.

How did mold enter my home?

Mold spreads by creating reproductive cells called spores that are airborne. You can’t see them with the naked eye. These spores travel into our homes through open windows and come in on our clothing and shoes. They can also enter on the fur of pets. Once they are in the house they settle on carpeting and other surfaces in the home.

What are biological contaminants?

Biological contaminants can include bacteria, mold, viruses, animal dander, dust mites and pollen. Some of these contaminants can trigger reactions such as sneezing, watery eyes, coughing, fatigue and fever.

How can I reduce exposure to biological contaminants?

Use exhaust fans that are vented to the outdoors. Ensure your clothes dryer is vented to the outdoors. Ventilate your attic and crawl spaces. Keep humidity levels below 50%. Clean your dehumidifier and air conditioners regularly. Do not smoke in your home. Keep your house clean to reduce dust mites, pollens, and pet dander.

What are chemical contaminants?

Chemical contaminants are generally items we introduce to the house during the construction phase (materials, paints) or during maintenance (dry cleaning, soaps, fragrant products).

What are Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs)?

VOCs are chemicals contained in many construction materials. Health effects can include eye, nose and throat irritation, cough and respiratory problems, nausea, headache or dizziness. Children, the elderly and people with asthma can be more susceptible to the effects of VOCs.

What are RSPs?

RSPs is the general term used for the mixture of solid particles and liquid droplets found in the air. Some particles are large or dark enough to be seen as soot or smoke. Others are so small they can be detected only with a laser particle counter. The sampling and description of particles is based on "particle size". Particle count is obtained by using data loggers or by taking grab samples from the site in question.

What is formaldahyde?

Formaldahyde is a pungent-smelling and colorless gas that can occur from pressed wood products, textiles that use dirt and wrinkle retardants, adhesives (water-resistant, economical, bond strength)  and from the by-products of combustion (smoking and stoves).

What is off-gassing?

Off-gassing is an industry term for the chemical odor that comes off new furniture, cars, carpet, construction, plastics or generally any new materials. It is a volatile organic compound (VOC).

What is combustion spillage?

Combustion spillage is the term used to decribe the unwanted flow of combustion gases into your home. Because toxic compounds can be present in combustion gases, sharing your home with these gases can lead to problems ranging from nuisance headaches to serious illness, carbon monoxide poisoning or even death.

What is carbon monoxide?

Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless, poisonous gas. It is produced by incomplete and inefficient combustion processes. When people are exposed to even relatively low levels of carbon monoxide for long periods of time it can cause symptoms like headaches and nausea. At high levels it can ultimately cause death. Elevated levels of carbon monoxide most often occur due to improperly vented combustion appliances such as gas heating systems, boilers, or water heaters. Another common cause is a cracked heat exchanger on a combustion appliance. Elevated levels of carbon monoxide can also be traced to cooking appliances, unvented fireplaces or vehicles running in an enclosed place. To ensure safety have combustion appliances serviced regularly, consider replacing unvented gas appliances with a sealed, direct-vent unit and ensure all homes or buildings have high quality carbon monoxide alarms located near combustion appliances.

What is sewer gas?

Sewer gas is a generic name for the collection of gases and airborne agents that often accompany sewage. Major components of sewer gas are nitrogen, hydrogen sulfide and carbon dioxide.

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