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Frequently Asked Questions

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How do I know if I have a mold problem?

According to the CDC (and common sense), large mold infestations can usually be seen or smelled.  Additionally, mold infestations may affect members of your household if they have respiratory system issues or are sensitive to environmental toxins. If a member of your family is experiencing a reaction such as shortness of breath, wheezing or difficulty breathing, when they are in your home, and you smell or see mold in your home, you may wish to call a professional to have your home evaluated.

What is toxic mold?

Stachybotrys chartarum  (/stækiːˈbɒtrɪs/ /tʃɑːrˈtɛərəm/, stak-ee-BO-tris char-TARE-əm), also known as black mold or toxic black mold, is a variety of microfungus that produces its conidia in slime heads. It is sometimes found in soil and grain, but the mold is most often detected in cellulose-rich building materials from damp or water-damaged buildings S. chartarum was originally discovered on the wall of a house in Prague in 1837 by Czech mycologist August Carl Joseph Corda. It requires very high moisture levels in order to grow and is associated with wet gypsum material and wallpaper.

Source: Wikipedia
 

I heard about “toxic molds” and “black molds” that grow in homes and other buildings. Should I be concerned about a serious health risk to me and my family?

There is always a little mold everywhere – in the air and on many surfaces.

Certain molds are toxigenic, meaning they can produce toxins (specifically “mycotoxins”). Hazards presented by molds that may produce mycotoxins should be considered the same as other common molds which can grow in your house. Not all fungi produce mycotoxins and even those that do will not do so under all surface or environmental conditions.

Mold growth, which often looks like spots, can be many different colors, and can smell musty.  Color is not an indication of how dangerous a mold may be.  Any mold should be removed and the moisture source that helped it grow should be removed.

There are very few reports that toxigenic molds found inside homes can cause unique or rare health conditions such as pulmonary hemorrhage or memory loss. These case reports are rare, and a causal link between the presence of the toxigenic mold and these conditions has not been proven.

Source: CDC website

 

When should I call a professional?

If you have a localized, easily identified mold issue that you feel you can clean up yourself, there are products on the market you can use to kill and remove the mold before painting over the stained area with a stain blocking product like Kilz. If you have tried the DIY method, and it just hasn't worked for you, or if your mold problem is bigger than a simple fix, then you may want to consult with a professional.

There are several circumstances under which you would be better advised to call a professional, including:

  • If you can smell mold in your home, but you can’t find the mold or moisture problem; or
  • If there is so much mold that you can’t easily remedy the situation; or
  • If there are highly susceptible individuals in your home, for example, family members with respiratory conditions including severe asthma or allergies, and those with a weakened immune system caused by HIV, chemotherapy or an organ transplant. Young children and elderly persons may also be more susceptible to mold-related health issues.
  • If there are other hazardous materials present, like asbestos or lead, that will be disturbed or removed along with the mold. Hire a contractor who is licensed for those mold removal hazards.      
  • If moisture has created structural problems. Consult a qualified contractor to do the repairs or a structural engineer to advise you on what needs to be done.

Additional FAQs from our friends at the CDC:

source CDC.gov:

How common is mold in buildings?

Molds are very common in buildings and homes. Mold will grow in places with a lot of moisture, such as around leaks in roofs, windows, or pipes, or where there has been flooding. Mold grows well on paper products, cardboard, ceiling tiles, and wood products. Mold can also grow in dust, paints, wallpaper, insulation, drywall, carpet, fabric, and upholstery.

The most common indoor molds are Cladosporium, Penicillium, and Aspergillus.  We do not have precise information about how often different molds are found in buildings and homes.

How do molds get in the indoor environment and how do they grow?

Mold is found both indoors and outdoors. Mold can enter your home through open doorways, windows, vents, and heating and air conditioning systems. Mold in the air outside can also attach itself to clothing, shoes, and pets can and be carried indoors. When mold spores drop on places where there is excessive moisture, such as where leakage may have occurred in roofs, pipes, walls, plant pots, or where there has been flooding, they will grow. Many building materials provide suitable nutrients that encourage mold to grow. Wet cellulose materials, including paper and paper products, cardboard, ceiling tiles, wood, and wood products, are particularly conducive for the growth of some molds. Other materials such as dust, paints, wallpaper, insulation materials, drywall, carpet, fabric, and upholstery, commonly support mold growth.

How do molds affect people?

Exposure to damp and moldy environments may cause a variety of health effects, or none at all. Some people are sensitive to molds. For these people, exposure to molds can lead to symptoms such as stuffy nose, wheezing, and red or itchy eyes, or skin. Some people, such as those with allergies to molds or with asthma, may have more intense reactions. Severe reactions may occur among workers exposed to large amounts of molds in occupational settings, such as farmers working around moldy hay. Severe reactions may include fever and shortness of breath.

In 2004 the Institute of Medicine (IOM) found there was sufficient evidence to link indoor exposure to mold with upper respiratory tract symptoms, cough, and wheeze in otherwise healthy people; with asthma symptoms in people with asthma; and with hypersensitivity pneumonitis in individuals susceptible to that immune-mediated condition.

In 2009, the World Health Organization issued additional guidance, the WHO Guidelines for Indoor Air Quality: Dampness and Mould pdf icon[PDF – 2.65 MB]external icon. Other recent studies have suggested a potential link of early mold exposure to development of asthma in some children, particularly among children who may be genetically susceptible to asthma development, and that selected interventions that improve housing conditions can reduce morbidity from asthma and respiratory allergies.

A link between other adverse health effects, such as acute idiopathic pulmonary hemorrhage among infants, memory loss, or lethargy, and molds, including the mold Stachybotrys chartarum  has not been proven. Further studies are needed to find out what causes acute idiopathic hemorrhage and other adverse health effects.

There is no blood test for mold.  Some physicians can do allergy testing for possible allergies to mold, but no clinically proven tests can pinpoint when or where a particular mold exposure took place.

Who is most at risk for health problems associated with exposure to mold?

People with allergies may be more sensitive to molds. People with immune suppression or underlying lung disease are more susceptible to fungal infections. Individuals with chronic respiratory disease (e.g., chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder, asthma) may experience difficulty breathing. Individuals with immune suppression are at increased risk for infection from molds. If you or your family members have these conditions, a qualified medical clinician should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment.

How do you keep mold out of buildings and homes?

Inspect buildings for evidence of water damage and visible mold as part of routine building maintenance, Correct conditions causing mold growth (e.g., water leaks, condensation, infiltration, or flooding) to prevent mold growth. If you suspect that a water leak or other water damage is causing a mold issue in your home, give me a call at (810) 569-1863 to set up a mold consultation.

Inside your home you can control mold growth by:

  • Controlling humidity levels;
  • Promptly fixing leaky roofs, windows, and pipes;
  • Thoroughly cleaning and drying after flooding;
  • Ventilating shower, laundry, and cooking areas.

Specific Recommendations:

Keep humidity levels as low as you can—between 30% and 50%–all day long. An air conditioner or dehumidifier will help you keep the level low. Bear in mind that humidity levels change over the course of a day with changes in the moisture in the air and the air temperature, so you will need to check the humidity levels more than once a day.

Use an air conditioner or a dehumidifier during humid months.

Be sure your home has enough ventilation. Use exhaust fans which vent outside your home in the kitchen and bathroom. Make sure your clothes dryer vents outside your home.

Fix any leaks in your home’s roof, walls, or plumbing so mold does not have moisture to grow.

Consider not using carpet in rooms or areas like bathrooms or basements that may have a lot of moisture.

How do you get the molds out of buildings, including homes, schools, and places of employment?

Click here to read about mold mitigation recommendations from the CDC.

If you have an extensive amount of mold and you do not think you can manage the cleanup on your own, you may want to contact a professional who has experience in cleaning mold in buildings and homes.

Are there any circumstances where people should vacate a home or other building because of mold?

These decisions have to be made individually. If you believe you are ill because of exposure to mold in a building, you should consult your physician to determine the appropriate action to take.

I found mold growing in my home; how do I test the mold?

If you can see or smell mold, a health risk may be present. You do not need to know the type of mold growing in your home, and CDC does not recommend or perform routine sampling for molds. No matter what type of mold is present, you should remove it. Since the effect of mold on people can vary greatly, either because of the amount or type of mold, you cannot rely on sampling and culturing to know your health risk.

A qualified environmental lab took samples of the mold in my home and gave me the results. Can CDC interpret these results?

Standards for judging what is an acceptable, tolerable or normal quantity of mold have not been established. Sampling for mold can be expensive, and standards for judging what is and what is not an acceptable quantity of mold have not been set. The best practice is to remove the mold and work to prevent future growth.  If you do decide to pay for environmental sampling for molds, before the work starts, you should ask the consultants who will do the work to establish criteria for interpreting the test results. They should tell you in advance what they will do or what recommendations they will make based on the sampling results. The results of samples taken in your unique situation cannot be interpreted without physical inspection of the contaminated area or without considering the building’s characteristics and the factors that led to the present condition.

 

source: CDC website

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Recently I had Jim Dietrich and Michigan Mold Consultants inspect our home for possible mold or substances that could be causing us to be ill. He did not find any evidence of mold visibly or with any strange odors. Mr. Dietrich inspected our furnace and discovered that there was a large blockage in the exhaust ducting causing a backdraft of carbon monoxide to enter the home. I immediately called an HVAC company nearby to remove the obstruction. Mr. Dietrich solved our problem and very possibly saved our lives. We really appreciated his thoroughness and efficiency. I would highly recommend Jim Dietrich and his services.

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Michigan Mold Consultants
Jim Dietrich
Flushing, MI 48433
(810) 569-1863