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What are the primary concerns of mold infestation?
Mold exists in all structures, virtually everywhere, floating in the air and on all surfaces. Many building materials such as wood, sheetrock, etc. provide the "food" that can support mold growth. Even dust that has settled on these materials or furniture can be a food source for molds. Mold needs to eat to survive, and it's perfectly happy eating your home, if you allow it.
But health risks arise when the levels are too high, and most people don't even consider the possibility of an infected home or workplace; most Doctor's don't even delve into the chance that their patient's condition is due to indoor air quality issues, even though the media has identified and covered several instances of mold making people sick. According to the EPA, all indoor mold growth should be removed promptly, no matter what type(s) of mold are present, or whether or not it can produce toxic mold. It's not a myth, prolonged exposure to mold increases health risks.

How does mold originate, and where does it reside?
Mold only needs a few things to grow and multiply; Nutrients (food), a suitable place to grow, and moisture. Molds can grow almost anywhere there is enough moisture or high humidity. The Moisture can come from our bodies (sweat, wet hair on pillows, breath), steam, moist air from outdoors, tiny plumbing leak, clothes that aren't fully dried , and a host of other reasons. Mold often appears as a staining or fuzzy growth on furniture, walls, ceilings, or anything made of wood or paper. It can smell like an earthy, or musty odor, though oftentimes it's undetectable. Mold colors range from white, gray, brown, black, yellow, or green.

What promotes mold exposure?
Exposure increases when indoor moldy materials becomes dried, damaged or disturbed, causing spores and other mold cells to be released into the air and consequently inhaled. Elevated exposure to mold may also occur if a person directly handles moldy materials or accidentally ingests non edible molds.

Do you perform mold tests?
We can take samples to test for mold and send them to our lab for analysis, although not all molds are detectable. Most of our clients detect mold with their nose or eyes. If you see mold in one area of your dwelling, be assured it is everywhere in that building, and when it's blatantly visible, there usually isn't a need for the added expense of testing.

Can't I just use bleach to eradicate mold?
Bleach does not kill mold, it only removes the color. When you treat mold in your bathroom, you effectively eliminate the appearance; but it comes back in the same place, doesn't it? Not only does it not work, but the when the mold comes back, its roots become even more resilient, not to mention that bleach is an incredibly caustic chemical.

Will Paint and / or Primer kill mold?
The simple answer is No. It can seal the problem for a short while, but it will return. After our treatment plan is complete, that is a good time to prime, and we recommend the use of an oil based primer. Water based primers are ok as well, but not as effective.

Newer Homes and Buildings are immune to the mold problem, right?
Unfortunately this is Not true. Building materials, lumber and trusses sitting outside in the rain too long, can all become infested, and the mold can show up several months after the structure is complete. Some molds will lay dormant until moisture re-activates them.

How are Condos and Apartment complexes affected?
There are a large amount of Condos and Apartment complexes that have had one or more units that suffered some kind of water damage and consequently, mold infestation. Because of the close proximity, mold can spread from unit to unit.

How can mold affect one's health?
This answer is not meant to scare you, but it is real. Mold can grow in the lungs and on the spine. It can cause paralysis, eye fungus, and the toxic effects of fungal exposure and deadly mycotoxins can compromise the immune system. Reoccurring bronchitis is commonly caused from tainted indoor environments. Too many times, testing and removal is performed after the damage is done, this is why we promote the eradication of even the possibility of mold, especially in surroundings that you spend most of your time in. In rare cases, mold can even produce arsenic gas and cause permanent brain damage. People that suffer from allergies, breathing impairments, nasal and sinus congestion, nose and throat irritation, and migraine headaches should make a call to GREAT their Top Priority.

While occupational exposure to airborne pollutants such as coal dust and asbestos have long been known to cause lung cancer, mesothelioma, and pneumoconiosis (black lung), the affects of being exposed to airborne contaminants, especially bio-aerosols like mold, in homes and non-industrial work sites such as office buildings, are just being realized. In the last 10 years, micro-organisms and mold have been concluded to be the primary source of indoor air contamination in as many as 50% of homes and offices studied since 1994. This realization can in part be attributed to a new interdisciplinary approach used in the evaluation of physical, chemical and microbiological constituents of indoor air environments.

What is Mold?
Mold is a type of fungi that grows in the natural environment all year round and is the single biggest cause of poor indoor air quality. There are thousands of species of mold which grow in a wide variety of colors. Mold is found everywhere both indoors and outdoors. Outdoors, molds live in the soil, on trees, plants, and on dead or decaying matter. In nature, mold helps break down organic material which helps recycle nutrients throughout the ecosystem. Mold growing indoors however, presents a major health issue. Some species of mold like Aspergillus and Stachybotrys Chartarum can not only grow, but can also reproduce into colonies indoors. Many times, mold is easily detected by a musty odor in places with high moisture like basements, crawl spaces, attics, and bathrooms. Molds produces microscopic cells called "spores" that easily spread through the air. These spores act like seeds, forming new mold growth colonies when they land in areas where the conditions are right for mold growth.

Mold is composed of linear chains of cells (hyphae) that branch and intertwine to form the fungus body (mycelium). All fungal cell walls contain (1-3)-beta-D-glucan, which is a medically significant glucose polymer that has immunosuppressive, mitogenic (causing mitosis or cell transformation) and inflammatory properties (characterized by eye, nose and throat irritation). This mold cell wall component also acts synergistically with bacterial endotoxins to produce airway inflammation following inhalation exposure.

What makes mold grow?
Mold only needs a few things to grow and multiply:
» Nutrients (food)
» A suitable growing environment
» Moisture

Many building materials such as wood, drywall, and sheetrock provide ample food to support mold growth and reproduction. Even the dust that settles on these materials or furniture can be a food source for molds. Molds are able to grow anywhere there is adequate moisture. Some common causes of mold growing conditions are:
» Flooding from external sources-(storm water, overflowing rivers, lakes and streams)
» Flooding from internal sources-(overflow from sinks, bathtubs, showers, air conditioners)
» Condensations-(from indoor humidity in basements, crawlspaces and attics)
» Water leaks from the outside-(structural leaks from roof, walls, and floors)
» Water leaks from the inside-(indoor plumbing leads or a broken pipe)
» Poor ventilation-(steam from cooking and bathroom moisture from showers)
» Use of Humidifiers
» House plants

What is Black Mold?
Black mold is usually associated with Stachybotrys chartarum, a type of greenish-black mold commonly associated with water damage. The known health effects from exposure to Stachybotrys are similar to other common molds and have been proven to cause upper respiratory tract irritation, flu like symptoms, and/or skin irritation.

Health Effects Associated with Molds
Common molds like Aspergillus, Penicillium, Stachybotrys chartarum, Fusarium, and Aspergillus versicolor are able to produce toxic and harmful substances called mycotoxins, which are lipid-soluble and are absorbed into the body through the airways, skin, and intestinal lining. When small diameter spores are inhaled into the body, they can reach the lung alveoli and induce an inflammatory reaction creating toxic pneumonitis. Mycotoxins have long presented health risks to human and animal populations, and depending on quantities produced and consumed, mycotoxins can cause immune-logical effects, organ-specific toxicity, cancer, and in some cases death. Other symptoms of mold exposure are respiratory problems such as wheezing, difficulty in breathing, nasal and sinus congestion, burning and watery eyes, hacking cough, chronic fatigue, and skin dermatitis. Molds also produce a large number of microbial volatile organic compounds (MVOCs). These chemicals are responsible for the musty odors prevalent in areas with mold growth.

The negative effects of mycotoxins produced by mold have been recorded throughout the ages and from different sources like 5000 year old Chinese texts, numerous scientific journals and even the Bible. During the middle ages there are recorded examples where consumption of moldy food has lead to fiery pain, swelling and gangrene in the limbs. More recently, molds that produce potent toxins have been associated with acute pulmonary hemorrhage among infants, and it is document mold can cause infections in immuno-compromised individuals. Some molds have also been classified by the National Toxicology Program as human carcinogens, and we also know that respiratory illnesses like aspergillosis among workers can be attributed to mold exposure. Based on an American Journal of Medicine report we have learned that outbreaks of Hypersensitivity pneumonitis has been linked to individuals with high exposure to mold-contaminated humidifiers and ventilations systems in office buildings. The Institute of Medicine concluded in its report, "Indoor Allergens", that airborne fungal allergens were most often associated with allergic diseases, such as allergic rhinitis/conjunctivitis, allergic asthma, and hypersensitivity pneumonitis.

Dermatitis Red itchy skin & rash
Asthma Asthma may be caused and/or aggravated by mold exposure, resulting in coughing attacks, wheezing and/or shortness of breath.
Allergic rhinitis or sinusitis Runny nose, nasal and/or sinus congestion, irritated eyes, scratchy throat and cough.
Hypersensitivity pneumonitis Tightness in chest, difficulty breathing, fever, cough and muscle aches.
Invasive pulmonary aspergillosis Occurs in immuno-compromised individuals.  Pneumonia, fever, bone pain, chills, headache and/or weight loss.
Aspergilloma Heavy coughing, coughing up blood and/or weight loss.
Allergic Bronchopulmonary Aspergillosis (ABPA) Worsening of asthma or cystic fibrosis, coughing up blood, and/or weight loss.
Other effects Reported effects of mold exposure in damp buildings include fatigue, headache, fever, muscle pain, attention deficit disorder, and mood swings.

Who Does Mold Effect?
There is a wide variability in how individuals are affected by mold exposure, depending on the type of mold, the amount of mold present and the length of exposure to the mold. People who are affected more quickly and severely are:
» Infants and children
» Elderly people
» Pregnant women
» Individuals with respiratory conditions, asthma, and/or allergies
» Persons with weakened immune systems
» All individuals with extended exposure

What Should I do if I See or Smell Mold in My Home?
If you see or smell mold in your home, the first step is to call Great Environmental. You may not need to replace any moldy materials such as ceiling tiles, carpeting and drywall. If you do not see any visible mold, but notice a musty odor, mold is most likely growing in and behind the walls, wallpaper, carpet, flooring and/or ceiling tiles. Attempting to remove mold without taking the proper precautions will make the situation worse because more spores and mycotoxins will be released into the air. If you see visible mold, or smell mold behind walls it needs to be remediated immediately. Great Environmental will be able to provide an encompassing solution to your problem.

Should I have My House tested for Mold?
It depends on what you are trying to figure out. Testing for mold is inexpensive compared to the cost of an illness, and can uncover potentially hazardous conditions within your home stemming from mold growth that is hidden behind walls, underneath carpeting and in attics, basements and crawlspaces.  When testing is done it is necessary to compare the levels and types of mold spores found inside the structure, with those found outside the structure. It is unacceptable to have a higher count indoors that the count of spores outdoors. If visible mold is present, the first step is to take action to remove it. Then take corrective action on the problem causing the moldy conditions.

What do I do About Mold in the Workplace?
If you see or smell mold, or if you or anyone else is experiencing any mold related symptoms, report it immediately. Tell your employer, supervisor, building manager, health and safety officer and/or your union representative so it can be investigated. If a particular office, floor, or area is affected, see if others are having any symptoms of the adverse side effects associated with mold exposure. Your employer is most likely responsible for removing unhealthy working conditions and must control indoor accumulation of water and humidity levels to prevent mold proliferation.

Alternaria alternata Allergens Asthma, allergy
Aspergillus versicolor Mycotoxins, VOCs Airway inflammation, mucosal irritation
Aspergillus fumigatus Many mycotoxins, allergens Asthma, rhinitis, hypersensitivity pneumonitis, toxic pneumonitis
Cladosporium herbarum Allergens Asthma, allergy
Penicillium chrysogenum Mycotoxins, VOCs Airway inflammation, mucosal irritation
Penicillium expansum Mycotoxins Nephrotoxicity
Stachybotrys chartarum Many Mycotoxins Dermatitis, mucosal irritation, immune system suppression.

Mold Glossary

A substance that elicits an antibody response and is responsible for producing allergic reactions by inducing formation of IgE. IgE is one of a group of immune system mediators. When bound to basophiles in circulations or mast cells in tissue, IgE can cause those cells to release chemicals when they come into contact with an allergen. These chemicals cause injury to surrounding tissue within the body, which are the visible signs of allergy. Fungal allergens are proteins found in either the mycelium or spores. All fungi are thought to be allergenic.

Airborne Contaminants
see Bioaerosols

Airborne Pollutants
Ultra-fine particles (organic metals, dioxins, aromatic compounds) floating around in the air, which may cause adverse health effects to humans and other animal populations.

Airborne particles floating around the air that originate from living organisms such as culturable, non-culturable and dead microorganisms, fragments, toxins and particulate waste products from a wide variety of living organisms.

Black Mold
This is a term used in association with Stachybotrys chartarum. Many molds appear black, while only a limited number of molds are truly black.

Fungi are classified in their own kingdom because they are neither animals nor plants. This Fungi kingdom consists of a very large group of organisms including molds, yeasts, mushrooms, and puffballs. Current estimates range up to 10 million different species of mold and mycologists (people who study mold) have grouped fungi into four large groups according to the method in which they reproduce.

Hidden Mold
Mold growth on structures that is not easily seen or visible. For example: Mold above drop ceilings, within a wall cavity, behind wall paper, underneath carpeting, or inside the ventilation system and/or air ducts.

compromised-Individuals with underlying health issues like diabetes, AIDS, leukemia, organ transplant recipients or those receiving chemotherapy.

A substance like a drug, hormone, bacteria or virus that reduces the function and efficacy of a human's immune system. That substance essentially lowers the body's ability to fight infections, making them more susceptible to illness.

Indoor Air Quality
The quality of air available to breath within any permanent or non-permanent structure. Bioaerosols from molds, mildew, dust mite excrement, and dander from pets are some causes of poor indoor air quality. Poor Indoor Air Quality is becoming a more wide widespread epidemic because structures are being built with better design and materials to create a more sealed, "leak-proof" environment than in the past, and because people are spending more time indoors (the average person spends 90% of their time indoors).

A term that describes a fat or fat-like substance found in the blood, such as cholesterol. The human body stores fat as energy to be used in the future, much like an automobile that has a reserve fuel tank. When the body needs energy, it is able to break down the lipids and burn them like glucose (sugar).

the ability of a material to dissolve and be stored within a lipid.

Microbial volatile organic compounds (MVOCs)
Harmful chemicals produced and released into the air by fungi as a result of their metabolism. These chemicals are typically responsible for the moldy, musty or earthy smell associated with mold growth.

Mitigenic- An agent that affects the ability of a cell to divide and reproduce.

Mold- A group of organisms that belong to the fungi kingdom. All molds are fungi, but not all fungi are molds.

Compounds produced and released into the air by molds that are toxic to animals and humans. These mycotoxins have a negative effect on one's health and in some cases associated with cancer and even death.

To fix a problem. When related to a mold problem or mold contamination, removing mold from an infested structure.

The ability of a material or substance to be dissolved in a liquid. For example, sugar is soluble in water.

Spores are essentially the reproductive units of mold. They function the same way that seeds do for higher species of plants. They are specialized cells that provide the primary means for dispersal, reproduction and survival.

Toxigenic Fungi
Fungi that is able to produce mycotoxins, which have been associated with Hypersensitivity pneumonitis, dermatitis and other symptoms like fever, headache and aggravated asthmatic conditions.

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