Molds are part of the fungi kingdom, which include mushrooms, bracket fungi, molds and mildew. They are ubiquitous in nature and are found indoors and outside. It’s estimated that molds and other fungi make up approximately 25% of the earth’s biomass.
Mold needs four conditions to grow:
- Mold spores must be present
- Nutrients must be available
- The temperature range must be between 40 and 100 degrees
- Relative humidity near the surface must be 70% or more
If you have at least one of these conditions present in your home or business you could potentially have a mold situation. When moisture is present, mold uses organic sources as nutrients, such as starches, sugars, and cellulose. Where does mold find these? In building materials like wood products, fabrics, dust, paints, adhesives, and vinyls.
When nutrients and moisture are present, mold can grow anywhere—even on inorganic materials such as glass, metal, plastics, or concrete.
Potential triggers for mold growth include:
- Moisture intrusion due to leaking water pipes, rain, or a water valve that was left on too long and caused flooding
- Damp, humid areas that have poor ventilation
- Any area where condensation occurs
If you notice mold growth, water damage, or musty odors, these symptoms should be addressed within 24 to 48 hours if possible. Sources of water intrusion must be identified and corrected immediately. In addition, the extent of water damage and/or mold contamination should be identified and corrected to prevent exposure problems or health issues. Mold growth typically occurs in three stages, or conditions:
It is considered natural for an indoor environment to have settled spores, fungal fragments or traces of actual growth. Condition 1 is consistent with normal fungal ecology for similar indoor environments.
An indoor environment which is primarily contaminated with settled spores that were dispersed directly or indirectly from a Condition 3 area, and which may have traces of actual growth.
This is an indoor environment that’s contaminated with actual mold growth and associated spores. That growth can be active or dormant, visible or hidden. With a Condition 3, a professional remediator must physically remove contamination from the structure and contents to return them to Condition 1. Attempts to kill or otherwise control mold are not adequate to solve the problem.
Most remediation efforts focus solely on Condition 3 (what you can see and is not a direct exposure issue). Unfortunately, it is Condition 2 (what you can’t see but can harm you) that should be as much of or a greater concern than Condition 3. The problem is that in order to determine whether or not you have a Condition 2 requires sampling (i.e., assessment) or making an assumption about the presence of settled mold spores, which is not the most accurate course of action. The appropriate scope of mold remediation includes the cleanup of both Condition 3 and Condition 2 areas.