Toxic Mold Facts
Signs of Toxic Poisoning - Toxic black mold and other fungi produce Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) during the process of degrading substances to obtain nutrition. The VOCs are the cause of the typical "moldy/musty" commonly associated with fungal contamination indoors. Exposure to high levels of VOCs may irritate the mucous membranes and the central nervous system leading to symptoms of headaches, decreased attention span, difficulty in concentration, and dizziness.
Test your home for toxic mold High Humidity - If you live in an area with high humidity, then you should always be on the lookout for potential mold problems. Naturally, the outdoor humidity affect indoor humidity levels, creating a perfect environment for toxic mold growth.
Water/Pipe Leaks - Mold needs moisture in order to grow and thrive. Many mold problems originate as a result of some kind of water intrusion, especially those that are not resolved quickly. In which case, water and pipe leaks are common culprits, since they provide plenty of moisture, and are often undetected for days, months, or even years if minor enough.
Flooding - Mold problems are very common after flooding for obvious reasons (plenty of moisture which is conducive for mold growth). Plus, it usually requires several days or weeks to fully dry out the home or building once flooding occurs, giving colonies of black mold more than adequate time to become fully ingrained in these sections.
Mildewy/Musty Odors - Odors can often be the first or only sign of a potential mold problem, since mold commonly propagates in places not normally in view. This does not necessarily mean that you definitely have a mold problem, but it should prompt you to look for the other signs, or to look for the mold growth itself Increased Allergy/Respiratory Symptoms - If one or more people living in a house, or working in a building (especially if it is an unusually high percentage of occupants) begin suffering allergic reactions that seem to be associated with your home or building, then it could be due to the presence of high levels of mold, especially if other signs are also present.
Leaky Roof - Like other types of water leaks, water intrusion through the roof is difficult to find until it is too late. If you suspect a leaky roof, check in the attic for signs of water damage or mold growth. Also be on the lookout for signs of water damage or mold growth in ceilings on the uppermost floor of the home. Damp Basements or Crawl Spaces - Basements and crawl spaces tend to receive less ventilation (especially crawl spaces), while also seeing cooler temperatures. With all things being equal, cooler temperatures will lead to a higher relative humidity percentage, since cooler air is able to hold less water before condensation occurs. Of course condensation means moisture.
Condensation or Rusting - Condensation on or around pipes, windows, or walls is a sign of a leak or high humidity. Rusting on pipes in particular, and anything else metal, is also a sign of a high humidity problem or nearby leak. Lots of House Plants - House plants require consistent watering, which increases moisture levels inside.
Discoloration of Walls (Water Stains) - Yellowish stains on walls and ceilings are a sign of excessive moisture. In more obvious cases, where mold growth may already be in full swing, the wall or ceiling may have a greenish, brownish, or blackish discoloration to it. Cracked, Peeling Paint - This usually means that there is moisture build up behind the paint. By the time the paint shows these signs, the moisture has often had an opportunity to spawn the growth of mold within the wall.
Blocked Gutters - Gutters that are blocked can cause water to seep into walls, through the roof, and can cause water to collect at the base of the foundation, which will result in further water damage in the home or building.
Warped Wood - Naturally, moisture is going to cause wood to warp. If wooden materials in your home have been infiltrated by enough water to actually warp, then sufficient levels of moisture are probably present to accelerate mold growth.
Black Growth in Bathroom Tiles - Bathrooms are a favorite breeding ground of mold. The increased moisture and common presence of tile in bathrooms are each highly conducive to the proliferation of mold colonies. Tile grout is porous and will allow water penetration, and behind the tiles themselves. In addition, dirt and other grime (favorite foods of mold) are easily trapped in the grout. This combination creates an ideal environment for mold to thrive.
Loosening of Drywall Tape - This is a sure sign that moisture has infiltrated the wall. Visible Biological/Mold Growth - This may seem like an obvious sign, but many people do not take a little visible mold growth very seriously. However, this can be an indication of a much larger mold growth in less visible places. Mold can take on a variety of appearances, such as black, grey-brown, grey-green, white & orange spots, or even pink or purple splotches if growing behind vinyl wallpaper. Stachybotrys is commonly a dark, slimy, greenish-black mold.
Clothes Dryers/Other Appliances Not Vented Outdoors - If the steam from these types of appliances is vented inside, then this significant amount of additional moisture creates a great environment for mold to flourish.
Poor Ventilation - If the air pressure in your home is "negative", meaning the air pressure outside is greater than it is inside, then it will force moisture and contaminates back into the home. If the air pressure is well into the "positive" side, then it can cause moisture to be forced into walls. The air pressure in your home should be slightly positive, or at least balanced.
Presence of Wet Materials Indoors - This can include rags, steam from cooking, indoor clothes lines, carpet, or furniture. If these or other items are damp for extended periods of time, then the moisture level can be high enough to accommodate mold growth.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency offers the following checklist for mold remediation
Investigate and evaluate moisture and mold problems
Assess size of moldy area (square feet)
Consider the possibility of hidden mold
Clean up small mold problems and fix moisture problems before they become large problems
Select remediation manager for medium or large size mold problem
Investigate areas associated with occupant complaints
Identify source(s) or cause of water or moisture problem(s)
Note type of water-damaged materials (wallboard, carpet, etc.)
Check inside air ducts and air handling unit
Throughout process, consult qualified professional if necessary.
Communicate when you remediate
Establish that the health and safety of building occupants are top priorities
Demonstrate that the occupants’ concerns are understood and taken seriously
Present clearly the current status of the investigation or remediation efforts
Identify a person whom building occupants can contact directly to discuss questions and comments about the remediation activities Plan remediation
Adapt or modify remediation guidelines to fit your situation; use professional judgment
Plan to dry wet, non-moldy materials within 48 hours to prevent mold growth
How to recognize, identify, & find toxic or allergenic indoor mold How to test for mold, clean up mold, or remove mold from buildings How to find, identify, and remove other indoor contaminants Indoor air quality cleanup, improvement, or corrective measures