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Mold Myths

Below are some mold myths along with their respective facts.

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    Myth 1 - All molds are toxic.

  • Mold is actually a naturally occurring biological contaminant - with some positive characteristics, including the ability to break down leaves, wood and other plant debris. Mycotoxins, which can damage the brain, lungs, nervous system, kidneys, liver and reproductive organs, are primarily produced by molds such as stachybotrys chartarum ("black mold") and penicillium.

  • Myth 2 - Only people who live in a humid, wet climate have to worry about mold.

  • Water incursion and damp buildings are the primary sources of mold, and climate is far from the only consideration. Though the air outside might not feel warm and humid, the atmosphere between walls, in basements, under sinks, around pipes and in crawl spaces may be a perfect home for mold. Mold can survive almost anywhere with water and humidity are present. Standing water, water-damaged materials or wet surfaces also serve as a breeding ground for mold.

  • Myth 3 - Some surfaces can be immune to mold.

  • Mold can grow on any surface that has water and humidity present. If a material sustains water damage, mold will likely grow. In fact, in areas where there is a perpetual moisture problem, do not install carpeting because it is more difficult to remove moisture and mold from carpet than from hard surfaces.

  • Myth 4 - If you don't see mold, you don't have mold.

  • Mold is an insidious pest that at its very early stages is quite natural and unassuming. Often, mold can be found hiding in spaces around pipes, behind cabinets and under sinks. By the time you know it's there, it can be a significant problem. It may be visible or invisible, even in amplified situations, and therefore only detectable to trained professionals. Control and remediation should be left to experts who understand the potential hazards and practice the best and most current practices.

  • Myth 5 - Effective regulations and laws are in place to deal with this issue.

  • While some states, including California, New York and Texas, are attempting to create and place standards for mold identification and remediation, those rules are not uniformly applied. There are no nationwide standards or guidelines in place for environmental testing, remediation techniques, contractor qualifications, and worker training and protective equipment. As a result, this area is susceptible to unscrupulous or uninformed service providers. Congress and no less than 20 states are currently working on mold-related legislation.

  • Myth 6 - If a building is contaminated by mold, insurance will cover it.

  • The insurance industry is concerned about the escalating and often unpredictable costs associated with mold testing and remediation. In fact, almost every residential insurance providers and most commercial property insurance policies now contain exclusionary language that precludes coverage for loss or damage caused by, or resulting from, a "fungus", which can be defined to include mold. For some companies, the solution is to purchase specialty environmental insurance to cover potential hazards such as mold at prohibitively high premium cost.

  • Myth 7 - Cleaning off the area where mold was growing will eliminate the mold.

  • Mold can become latent and reactivate. Tiny mold spores replicate every 24 hours and often grow back. They grow due to a source of water, so the source, all sources, must be located and repaired for the long-term. It is also much easier to clean off hard surfaces - with water and detergent and then drying the surface. For absorbent materials such as ceiling tiles and carpeting, surface cleaning is often not enough; in the past, but not with the GPS system. Moving mold around often spreads spores, increasing the risks to the property and it's occupants.

  • Myth 8 - The worst mold can do is cause cold-like symptoms.

  • Researchers and health experts continue to debate the exact symptoms associated with mold exposure, and the type and severity of symptoms vary widely among people. Furthermore, many of the ailments associated with mold exposure are symptomatic of other common illnesses. The most common health effects and symptoms include allergic reactions, asthma, other respiratory complaints, headaches and fatigue, but prolonged exposure to high levels of mold may even cause memory loss, serious respiratory damage, impact on other human physiology, or death. Some molds produce aflotoxins, some of which have been proven to be carcinogenic.

  • Myth 9 - Mold can only grow around pipes, leaks or because of floods.

  • Mold is not limited to areas directly affected by water damage. In fact, mold spores often invade the HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) systems of buildings and homes. Because mold spores are carried through the air, having one of the more toxic species of mold in an HVAC system can be a serious problem. Remediation processes may include dehumidification, negative-pressure containment and HEPA vacuuming - which is why it is essential that trained mold remediation professionals lead the cleanup effort. The GPS system is a complete approach.

  • Myth 10 - If a plumber or contractor checked a building and did not mention mold, that building must be free of mold.

  • Many plumbers and contractors are not specifically trained to recognize and remediate mold, remember, the microscopic size of mold spores are not always visible to human sight. Plumbers fix leaks, while demolition contractors specialize in removing affected building materials. However, neither group is in a position to lead the effort to analyze mold hazards, correct serious problems and prevent future mold buildup. If you encounter a mold amplification, you want to solve the entire problem completely and quickly, with assurance that your situation will not repeat or expand.

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