What are molds?
Molds are fungi that can be found both indoors and outdoors. No one knows how many species of fungi exist but estimates range from tens of thousands to perhaps three hundred thousand or more.
What causes mold to grow?
Almost all homes, apartments, and commercial buildings will experience leaks, flooding or other forms of excessive indoor dampness at some point. One consequence of indoor dampness is new or enhanced growth of fungi and other microbial agents. Visible fungal colonies found indoors are commonly called mold or sometimes mildew. Mold spores are regularly found in indoor air and on surfaces and materials—no indoor space is free of them. The availability of moisture is the primary factor that controls mold growth indoors. As moisture is removed, most mold colonies will go inactive and produce numerous spores on the order of millions. Without proper sanitation any recurring water event will create a magnified biologic response. 
Are molds the only thing that grow under conditions of excessive indoor dampness ?
While much attention is focused on mold growth indoors, it is not the only dampness related microbial agent. Mold growth is usually accompanied by bacterial growth. At present the fungal and bacterial interactions in a growth phase are poorly understood. But it is known that many fungi produce mycotoxins when environmentally stressed, some of which can directly impact humans. They also produce allergens and irritants. Damp indoor environments are also conducive to house dust mites and microbial growth, standing water supports cockroach and rodent infestations, and excessive moisture may initiate chemical emissions from building materials and furnishings.
What are the common symptoms of mold exposure?
Responses typically include: allergic responses; asthma attacks; and, irritated eyes, skin, nose, throat, and lungs of both mold-allergic and non-allergic people.
What is black mold? Or Do I have toxic mold in my home?
The “toxic” black mold is Stachybotrys chartarum. Not all black molds are Stachybotrys chartarum. While it is less common than other mold species, it is not rare. The most common indoor molds are Cladosporium, Penicillium, Aspergillus, and Alternaria. 
Will black mold kill me?
If you don’t eat it, no. Evidence has accumulated implicating Stachybotrys chartarum, aka black mold, as a serious problem in homes and buildings and one of the causes of the "sick building syndrome". Direct contact with it can create common symptoms such as rash, especially in areas subject to perspiration; dermatitis; pain and inflammation of the mucous membranes of the mouth and throat; conjunctivitis; a burning sensation of the eyes and nasal passages; tightness of the chest; cough; bloody rhinitis; fever; headache; and fatigue .
Should I have my mold tested?
No. Generally, it is not necessary to identify the species of mold growing in a residence, and CDC does not recommend routine sampling for molds. Current evidence indicates that allergies are the type of diseases most often associated with molds. Since the reaction of individuals can vary greatly either because of the person’s susceptibility or type and amount of mold present, sampling and culturing are not reliable in determining your health risk. If you are susceptible to mold and mold is seen or smelled, there is a potential health risk; therefore, no matter what type of mold is present, you should arrange for its removal. 
How do I remove mold?
If there is mold growth in your home, you should fix the water problem and clean up the mold by:
- Always following the manufacturer’s instructions when using bleach or any other cleaning product.
- Cleaning hard surfaces with a household disinfectant labeled effective against mold. Dry wood joists and studs that are structurally sound but show evidence of biologic growth (darkened or black) may be treated by encapsulation after cleaning. Other methods of cleaning include:
- Washing the mold off with a detergent solution, and sanitizing with a bleach solution (¼ cup of bleach in 1 gallon of water);
- Using a bleach solution of no more than 1 cup of bleach in 1 gallon of water;
- If you choose to use a bleach solution:
- Never mix bleach with ammonia or other household cleaners. Mixing bleach with ammonia or other cleaning products will produce dangerous, toxic fumes.
- Open windows and doors to provide fresh air.
- Wear non-porous gloves and protective eye wear.
- If the area to be cleaned is more than 10 square feet, consult the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) guide titled Mold Remediation in Schools and Commercial Buildings. Although focused on schools and commercial buildings, this document also applies to other building types.
- Using a mold specific product by following the manufacturer’s instructions.
- Using vinegar or baking soda solutions. Many resources are available online, such as, Remove Bathroom Mold.
- Removing or replacing previously soaked (wet more than 24-48 hours) porous materials with visible mold, such as, carpets, carpet pads, and upholstery.
- Clothing and similar items may be machine washed.
Is condensation a problem?
Mold and other biologic growth along the baseboards and windowsills are common in older housing units with older code required insulation values, particularly along the north wall of the dwelling. Condensation forms along the baseboards of the interior surface of outside walls during colder weather, particularly behind furniture where the exposure to forced heated air is reduced. Biologic growth from condensation can be up to a three-fold issue:
- Poor sanitation;
- Elevated humidity levels, caused by insufficient air turnover or poor air circulation; and,
- Poor construction; or exterior wall and fenestration U-factor values.
Solutions may include:
- Short term:
- Reducing the humidity level in the house to between 30% and 50%;
- Using an air conditioner or dehumidifier during humid months;
- Not placing any furniture against the north exterior walls during cold weather. This allows heated air and radiant heat to warm the walls;
- Intermediate and long term:
- Ensuring the dwelling has adequate ventilation, including exhaust fans;
- Cleaning the affected walls and repairing them with paint that has added mold inhibitors. This is recommended for all bathrooms.
- Not carpeting bathrooms and other areas affected by condensation.
- Redirecting forced heat vents to that they are along the outer walls, particularly below windows. This is expensive and may not be necessary.
- Insulating or increasing the insulation value of the exterior envelope of the dwelling.
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