When you think of mold, images of musty, stale bread and unidentifiable molds come to mind. However, in the world of mainstream architecture, there are other more exotic species that cause problems. Mold is a common indoor air contaminant that can cause health problems. It grows on walls, in humidifier tubes, and even in the ductwork. Although it is usually found growing on human beings or other warm-blooded animals, mold can grow on walls and other surfaces in homes. Sometimes it is caused by poor ventilation or moisture buildup. In other instances, it can be caused by natural causes like tree sap or soil contamination. Regardless of the source, mold growth often results in unhealthy conditions that leave people feeling dizzy and fatigued. Fortunately, you do not have to live with mold growing in your home to be affected. Here is what you need to know about different types of molds and how they affect the inside of your house:
What is mold?
Mold is a common indoor air contaminant that can cause health problems. It grows on walls, in humidifier tubes, and even in the ductwork. Molds need moisture to grow and are able to form colonies in humidifier tubes and other areas where they are present. The mold that grows on walls is often referred to as latent or infiltration mold. It is not visible to the naked eye and grows only under certain conditions such as moist air, air movement, and a lack of ventilation. Molds are generally mycophagous (loving fungus) organisms that feed on organic matter. They can be either saprobic (good at breaking down organic matter) or mycobacteriosis (bad at breaking down organic matter). Mold growth on walls can be a sign of problems with your HVAC system. In particular, problems with the airflow in and out of your house can cause the growth of molds in humidifier tubes and other areas of your house.
What situations cause mold growth?
Mold is most common in humid areas and can grow in places where water sits for a long time like water toilets, humidifier vents, water heaters, water softeners, and water purifiers. Molds can also grow on the walls and ceilings of bathrooms. The most common types of molds found in bathrooms are tropical and tropical-mycobacteriivorous. Tropical molds such as ubiquitous tropical mold Bay of Bengal mycetoma grow abundantly in humid tropical areas and pose a potential health risk. Tropical molds grow slowly and are only visible to the naked eye after they grow on a wall or elsewhere where they can be inhaled.
Types of molds found in homes
The most common species in homes is the tropical mold Aspergillus or tropical-mycobacteriivorous Aspergillus. Tropical-mycobacteriivorous mold species that can grow on walls and/or ceilings include Alternaria, Fusobacterium, Paracoccidioides, Penicillium, Rhizopus, and Verrucomicrobia. The tropical mold species that grow in drains and gutters are called cryptosporidioses. These molds are only rarely a problem indoors.
Health risks from mold in homes
The health risks from mold in homes include allergic reactions, infection, irritation, and inflammation, as well as higher rates of cancers and other diseases. In particular, asthma and other allergies are triggered by molds. Allergies can also occur in individuals who are chronically ill or who have other allergies such as to food, dander, and pollen.
Decontamination of homes with bleach
Bleach is a known mold destroyer. However, because it is highly flammable, it is not suitable for use in homes. It should be used only by professionals such as plumbers, gasfitters, and HVAC technicians. Additionally, do not use bleach to clean ceilings or furniture. Use a mild household cleaner instead.
Mold can grow on walls, in humidifier tubes, and even in the ductwork. It can be a sign of HVAC system problems such as low airflow in and out of the home, low humidity in the air, and poor indoor air quality. Preventative measures such as installing a humidifier to help with moisture issues, and proper airflow in and out of the home can help to prevent the growth of mold.
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