Frequently Asked Questions about Molds

What molds should I be concerned with?

There are over 5 million species of mold/fungi however, less than two dozen are found inside our homes/offices.  To make this distinction even easier, we can further break these down into two categories:

Opportunistic molds : Common molds such as aspergillus/penicillium and cladisporiumare the most common.  These molds can colonize on elevated humidity without a moisture source.  There is no known health threat from cladisporiumso we mostly deal with elevated aspergillus/penicillium when we find it.  Finding amplified    aspergillus/penicillium almost always relates to an issue with the HVAC system and requires a thorough cleaning to remove it.

Water indicator molds : These molds require an active moisture source to colonize and produce spores. The most widely documented by sampling are stachybotryschartarum, Chaetomium globosum, curvularia, epicoccum and basidiospores (mushrooms). Chaetomium is not technically a mold (it is an ascomycete) with limited production of mycotoxins.  It is commonly found alongside other water indictor molds and generally, it is the first mold we find so it acts as a precursor to the condition which may support other water indicator molds.

These molds are heavy, mostly black/dark brown and they produce heavy spores which quickly settle out of the airstream.  For this reason, using air sampling to identify these water indicator molds is not effective as the sample may not pick them up.

Mycotoxins : The most common molds which produce mycotoxins are aspergillus (an opportunistic mold) and stachybotrys, curvularia, and epicoccum (which are all water indicator molds).  These are the molds which the media/internet hype as “black mold” or “toxic mold” although the fear has never been proven. The studies you find on the internet promoting links between dampness and death have all been disproven in later studies.  No children in Cleveland, Ohio died from exposure to mold or dampness.

Are molds harmful?

Amplified molds may produce mycotoxins which can cause allergic reactions, contribute to asthma attacks and compromise pulmonary functions by contributing to other stressors/triggers.  The only proven medical condition related to mold/fungi to date is aspergillosis and you should note aspergillus is an “opportunistic mold” rather than the “toxic mold” hyped on the media. I truly believe amplified mold can and does impact our health if we are exposed to long-term or systemic exposure, but that is just my opinion.

Is mildew a mold?

It is a fungi and all molds are fungi.  Given enough moisture and food, mildew can become a problem.  Many mold assessors and labs fail to identify the presence of erisiphye.  Generally, when you smell those strong, fungal odors, you are smelling erisiphye.  It emits a strong odor which permeates fabrics, carpets, upholstery, wood, clothing, drywall and any porous material.  Erisiphye forms mycelium (the branches of a tree) which grows into materials and it is difficult to remediate.  Often, the materials need to be discarded.  Erisiphye is commonly found in damp places such as crawlspaces, under porches, in unventilated closets, in unconditioned rooms such as enclosed sun rooms, and in homes with previous flood damage.  It can produce mycotoxins and should be treated until all traces are completely removed.

When should I call an assessor?

Typically, our customers seek our services based on either:

a. They see visible mold.
b. A contractor reports visible mold.
c. They are suspicious hidden mold is causing illness.
d. They have experienced a water loss/leak and are concerned.
e. They have been advised to get a mold test from others.

Any of these points are valid reasons for you to get an opinion.

The problem, for most, is who to call to get an opinion?  The internet is full of people/companies advertising mold testing and they all appear to be qualified – but are they?  Many hide their lack of credentials behind fake credentials or web emblems.  Most are simply scams.

You should only hire a Florida Licensed Mold Assessor for starters. Secondly, look for additional licensure or accredited certifications such as Certified General Contractor or Council Certified Indoor Environmental Consultant by ACAC.

What should you learn by a mold assessment?

A mold assessment should include a thorough investigation of your home or office for moisture, an assessment of the HVAC system, an assessment of the building envelope and conducive conditions.  If visible mold is present the Assessor should sample it to identify the species, so they may determine if it is an opportunistic or a water indicator mold, determine the extent of the mold, determine if the mold is colonized and to determine the threat level. A qualified assessor should be able to provide this information to you while at the property and without waiting on “lab reports”.

Further, the Assessor should be able to advise you on the source of the mold and what you should do to remove it and to prevent it from reoccurring.

Call us for a free consultation