What is Mold?
Mold is a multicellular type of fungi, characterized by the thread-like structures, known as hyphae. Mildews, mushrooms, and yeasts are other kinds of fungi belonging to the same family. A vast variety of mold sub-types exist, with each having a different effect on humans and their wellbeing.
While some molds are known to be beneficial and play an important role in food, beverage, and antibiotic production, there is a wide range of highly destructive and damaging molds that can cause detrimental health effects.
How Does Mold Infect a Building?
Mold and other fungal spores are naturally found in the outside environment. They require an adequate amount of moisture to grow and thrive. They are generally found in plants, soil, and other decaying matter.
Different types of mold have varying moisture requirements for growth. In buildings and structures, mold becomes a nuisance when there is excessive indoor moisture. Some of the common causes of mold growth include:
- Prolonged humidity
- Severe water flooding due to the surface water (from storms or river/lake overflowing)
- Rain damage and leaks
- Ice dams
- Blocked, overflowing, or back flowing gutters
- Sewer backflows
- Increased seepage from condensation on cold surfaces
- Leaking pipes
- Poor drainage in low spaces, such as basements
The Health Impact of Mold
Indoor mold is a serious health risk for industry professionals and employees, who come in contact with mold or occupy the space exposed to it. Continuous exposure can lead to a number of significant conditions, including, but not limited to:
- Skin rashes and irritations
- Hypersensitivity Pneumonitis
- Bloody noses
- Migraine headaches
- Memory loss
- Idiopathic pulmonary hemorrhage
While allergic reactions to mold are the most common and persistent, different types of mold and its toxins are known to cause a variety of infections and diseases. For example, stachybotrys chartarum –black mold – most commonly found in homes across the globe can cause serious respiratory conditions, such as idiopathic pulmonary hemorrhage.
Aspergillus mold, on the other hand, is a known carcinogen classified amongst the highly potent carcinogens out there.
While mold tends to adversely impact anyone who is directly exposed to its spores, some members of the general population might be more susceptible to its damage. They include:
- Industry workers
- Maintenance and construction personnel
- Pregnant women
- Infants and young children
- Immune compromised patients
- Older adult population
How to Prevent/Reduce Exposure to Mold
People can be exposed to mold in a number of ways: through skin contact with infected individuals, inhalation of airborne spores, or their ingestion.
The basic way to prevent and reduce mold exposure indoors is to be mindful of the moisture and temperature in a building. Mold growth is especially prevalent in flood or hurricane affected areas. To prevent diseases, it is important to dry any water-damaged area within 48 to 72 hours in order to prevent mold growth and infestation. It’s recommended to clean up the mold by scrubbing it off of hard surfaces using a strong detergent.
If soft or absorbent materials, such as soft tiles, carpets, and bedding, have become moldy, it’s best to get rid of them completely. Avoid painting over or caulking mold covered surfaces.
It is highly recommended that you hire an industry professional well versed in the standard and safety protocols pertaining to mold control and removal to clean mold on your premises.
Industry Standard Courses and Training
Industry professionals, contractors, HVAC technicians, and building inspectors are the most susceptible to developing mold infections and diseases. It is imperative that they take proper protective measures to avoid potential health consequences.
They must follow strict environmental safety standards and protocols. For career professionals dedicated to improving their job understanding and protecting themselves from adverse health reactions, it is advisable to complete ISO 14001 compliance. The ISO 14001 training course for Environmental Management System is an online, interactive course designed specifically to enhance the knowledge and expertise of industry professionals in their field.