We get a lot of questions about mold in the Des Moines area. Here are the most common questions and the answers.
What is Mold?
The term mold applies to the microscopic members of the Fungi kingdom. It has a fuzzy, cobweb like growth produced on organic matter. Mold has no ability to ‘fix’ carbon using chlorophyll so it must have some type of organic material as a food source. It can spread rapidly, forming the mycelium (fungal body), which is made up of a fine network of filaments (hyphae). The mycelium produces other clusters of root like hyphae, called rhizoids, which penetrate the organic material, secreting enzymes and absorbing water and the digested sugars and starches. Other clusters of hyphae called sporangiophores then reach upward, forming sporangia (knoblike spore cases), which bear the particular color of the mold species. Upon ripening, the sporangia break open and the windborne spores land elsewhere to reproduce asexually. If they find themselves in a less than ideal situation (not sufficient food, water, etc) they are likely to switch to a nonsexual method of reproduction (one not involving swapping or combining of genetic material) for the duration. This can make them hard to identify, since species are classified by their sexual characteristics (e.g., kind of spore cell wall, spore-producing cells, and sacs that store cells). World wide, there are more than 100,000 species of mold, with at least 1,000 species common to the United States.
Where does mold come from?
Mold spores are in the air and on the ground all around us. They are constantly falling on all surfaces in your home or office looking for a source of food and water. According to the EPA, mold can be found almost everywhere and it can grow on virtually any organic substance.
Is mold toxic in some cases?
Most types of mold commonly encountered are not hazardous to healthy individuals. However, there are some that have achieved recent notoriety that are strongly toxic such as Stachybotrys. Stachybotrys is not too common but can be very harmful when encountered in quantity. Others, like Aspergillus, can be dangerous as well. Aspergillosis is a lung disease suffered generally by immune compromised people. In this disease the Aspergillus mold actually grows in a person’s lungs and can cause death. In general, too much exposure to even common molds may cause or worsen conditions such as asthma, hay fever or other allergies.
Is mold becoming more common?
No. Mold is not becoming more common; there are even Biblical references to tearing down moldy houses and carting the bricks to a ‘dump’. While mold itself is not becoming more common, our knowledge of it and the problems it can cause is becoming more widely disseminated. In the last few years there have been many widely publicized cases concerning sicknesses caused by mold and the multi million dollar settlements awarded to those who suffered the consequences of mold toxicity. As well there have been many, many stories concerning people who have burned their houses down because that was a cheaper solution than remediation of the mold caused damage. (Removal of moldy materials is treated similar to toxic waste material which means any remediation is extremely expensive.) It is because of all this publicity that there is an appearance that mold has become more prevalent when in fact it has only become more recognized for its undesirable qualities.
What should I do if mold is present in my home or office?
As stated earlier most molds are non-toxic. However if you or anybody in your family is experiencing symptoms such as itchy eyes, running nose, coughing, sneezing or headaches and these symptoms have lasted more than 2 weeks, then you should definitely do some further investigation. Even if there are no outright symptoms you should take steps to get rid of the mold as soon as possible. For small infestations you can use bleach and water to kill the growth. For larger infestations you should get a service such as the FreshStart process wherein the whole house is treated to eliminate the effects of surface mold throughout. The next step is to find the mold’s source of water. Mold will not grow without water. To prevent its return you must find its current source of water and eliminate it.
6. Are your technicians certified?
All our techs are micro certified as well as CMRC (Certified Mold Remediation Contractor).