Aaaargh! Mold…

Mold is all around us. It is actually a microscopic form of fungi and there are more than 100,000 species in the world. Mold lives off organic matter and needs moisture to bloom. Although microscopic it becomes visible to us when it blooms. It can be dangerous to people who live in close quarters with it. The most terrifying mold to most US homeowners is "black mold". This is a deeply misunderstood mold. It has several deaths attributed to it, however studies show some doubt about this. Whereas it is in doubt as to whether black mold is deadly it can definitely cause serious illness in people and animals. It is most dangerous when disturbed. What is known is that different people have differing sensitivities to molds and reactions can be as mild as sinus irritation or as severe as bleeding lungs.

Laundry ceiling with a severe case of mold growth

According to the US EPA
  • Exposure to certain molds can cause allergic reactions, asthma, rashes and respiratory issues
  • You cannot eliminate all mold from your environment
  • To control mold you need to control moisture
  • To clean up mold you must remove the existing blooms and stop moisture penetration
  • Remove any drastically affected absorbent items or materials and discard
  • Clean any affected surfaces that cannot be removed using, water, detergent and bleach
  • Lower humidity in the affected space (<60% [US EPA])
  • Any time indoor environment is exposed to moisture dry surfaces and/or materials immediately
  • Minimize condensation on cold surfaces by adding insulation or warm air flow
  • Do not install carpets or upholstery where moisture can not be controlled
In an area that is prone to moisture penetration and has a history of mold growth consideration should be given to using mold resistant products. There are many such products available in the market. I am wary of these products, I worry about toxicity and off-gassing of volatiles in such products. Below is a list of a few products that are proven to work: Mold Resistant Woods: Several companies are now producing wood that is treated with anti-mold chemicals. Some of these products are an all encompassing vice treated product preventing termite damage, rot and even minimizing off gassing. Mold Resistant Insulation: Fiberglass is inherently resistant to mold, but I have seen plenty of nasty black mold infestations in wet insulation. While the mold does not feed off the insulation it can act as a perfect medium for growth. There are now several options for insulation that is treated with fungicides and even a few that are said to be of low toxicity. Mold Resistant Drywall and Drywall Tape: This type of drywall has fiberglass facing instead of the traditional paper facing. The use of fiberglass removes the "organic material" aspect from the drywall (mold feeds on organic material). This drywall does not completely prevent mold growth, it simply reduces the likelihood of mold growth. Mold Resistant Drywall Tapes provide more protection against mold than paper tape, mold resistant drywall tape is the ideal tape to compliment to mold resistant paperless drywall market. This tape is covered by an anti-microbial coating. Mold Resistant Paints: There are many paints being offered that contain fungicides. By using a mold resistant paint the growth of mold is again deterred but not outright prevented. Note: Mold resistant paint is not designed to “kill” mold that already exists. It should be applied to new or cleaned surfaces. . Mold Resistant Caulks and Sealants: similar to the other products listed these contain fungicides. There is a caulk or sealant for every type of need you may face. While there are more products being manufactured to help resist mold growth, it is important to note that if there is a mold problem to begin with, the mold must be removed at its source. Remove or prevent any moisture source or penetration, remove any damaged materials, and keep the space as dry as possible. Try mold resistant building materials if you have any doubt about the integrity of the space and its water resistance or if the space will continue to be a high humidity or moisture prone. One final tip, do not close up the walls or ceiling without testing the integrity of the moisture resistance first. If the moisture was coming through the wall test it with a garden hose, if it was a window leak or a door leak then devise a method to test the integrity of these openings. If you do not know that the problem is solved do not install new materials in the space or you may be just replacing it all again in the not too distant future.
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