Living or working in an environment filled with mold can have serious health consequences, such as asthma, allergies, respiratory tract infections, fungal infections and skin problems. If any of these conditions are present on an ongoing basis, this may indicate a problem in the structure and will require a mold inspection to be performed by a trained specialist. Before covering what is involved in this process, a general definition of mold needs to be identified.
Mold is a group of microscopic fungi, called spores, that live on animals or plant matter. It is brought into a house or building either through the air or on people, animals or objects. It requires nutrients to grow and to spread unchecked. These nutrients are found in dead organic matter such as wood, paper of fabrics. It requires moisture to spread, and that can be obtained through the air in conditions of low humidity. It is more prevalent in colder climates, as it is killed by extreme heat of over 100 degrees.
Some common sources of moisture where this can become a problem are basements, clothes dryer ventilation systems, crawl spaces, houses with a downgrading lot, high indoor humidity, humidifiers and vaporizers and inadequate ventilation. Commercial buildings can develop what is knows as Sick Building Syndrome, which is a term used when there are complaints about indoor air quality and respiratory symptoms by people who use the building on a regular basis. The biggest cause of SBS is inadequate ventilation, which can be contributed to by chemical contaminants from indoor sources, such as upholstery and cleaning agents. Poor construction is another factor. Up to 30 percent of commercial buildings are thought to have issues with SBS.
When a home or business owner decides to have an inspection, it is important to contact a professional. They will have training in how to detect and remove mold and should have a job title like Certified Mold Inspector, Certified Mold Remediator, or Certified Environmental Hygienist.
Testing includes searching for any type of toxic, household or bacterial mold infestation; common allergens, including animal dander, dust mites, cockroaches or radon gas, and checking drinking water and all painted surfaces. A black mold called Stachybotrys is the most dangerous type to have and should be removed immediately.
After the inspection, the next step taken by the professional would be removal of any infected area such as wallpaper, sheet rock, carpeting or tiling. Of course, contamination can occur in any area of the structure and should be detected by the testing.
To prevent future problems, the technician should dry moist areas to prevent recurring moisture accumulation. He or she should also educate the home or building owner on indoor air circulation and how to prevent additional mildew problems from developing.
In exchange for the fee paid to the mold inspector, the home or business owner should expect services to contain the spread into uncontaminated areas, killing of the existing mold, removal of the dead spores, and protection of the cleaned out area against future infestations.