Mold is a specific sub-group, or phylum, of the fungus kingdom. Mold breaks down dead matter, mostly cellulose like trees, leaves and such. Mold spreads by producing spores. The spores float on air currents and settle onto surfaces throughout a home. If conditions are right, mold can begin to grow and produce more spores. The right conditions include a food source, which for mold can be almost anything, and moisture. Mold must have a source of moisture to grow and reproduce, but it doesn’t take much moisture to get them growing. Even an elevated humidity level, such as in a basement or closet, can be enough. Controlling moisture is the key to controlling mold growth.
There are an estimated 300,000 mold species, most of which have not been studied or even named. Of those studied, a relatively small percentage are known to be allergenic, some are pathogenic and even fewer are known to be toxigenic. Mold spores are ubiquitous – they’re everywhere. How a person will react to any specific mold depends on how that person’s immune system reacts to the mold spores in the air. It also depends a lot on the type of mold and the level of exposure. Different people react differently to different molds, so a “safe” level of exposure to mold can never be set. Allergenic molds can elicit allergic reactions, a lot like pollen. For sensitive people, the reactions can be more serious. Toxigenic molds can do lasting damage to our bodies, including causing internal organ damage and even cancer. People with compromised immune systems are at particular risk for complications caused by mold.
How do I know if I have a mold problem?
If your home has water leaks that have gone on awhile, or has a wet or damp basement, you may have an issue with mold. If that dank, musty odor characteristic of basements is persistent, you probably have mold growing somewhere near the odor. Many molds give off volatile organic chemicals (VOCs), essentially gasses, that are responsible for that odor. As with mold spores, some of these gasses can cause adverse health effects if the exposure level is high enough. If you develop symptoms like headaches, sore throat, itchy eyes, runny nose, and so on when you’re home but not when you’re away, this can be a strong indicator that mold spore or VOC levels in your home are high.
Of course, having a professional mold specialist perform a Mold Assessment and take air samples throughout your home is the best way to determine if you have a mold concern. Through an assessment, sampling of the air and sampling any visible mold growth, the severity of the concern can be determined. The specific genus of molds found in the samples is usually identified, which can help determine if any indoor mold is of a type considered toxigenic. But again, it’s a matter of how your immune system is reacting to the mold spores and any VOCs present.
How do I get rid of mold?
Mold spores are everywhere; they’re microscopic and travel very well on air currents. There’s simply no way to make a home completely free of mold spores. The best we can do is make sure the indoor mold spore levels are less than those outdoors. If you have a mold problem, it can be taken care of by getting rid of the mold and correcting the conditions that allowed that mold to become a problem; that is, eliminating the source of moisture that’s supporting the mold growth. There are several companies that specialize in getting rid of mold and the better ones will also address the moisture concerns. These are called mold remediation companies.
The EPA has developed some guidelines for getting rid of mold. The guidelines are available on their website: www.epa.gov/mold. The Connecticut Department of Public Health also has some valuable information on mold in homes. Their website is: www.ct.gov/dph/mold. In general, if you have less than ten square feet of mold-contaminated area, clean-up would be considered a homeowner job. But don’t just use bleach and wipe the area down. Bleach is largely ineffective against mold and can actually make things worse. If the mold is on a hard, non-porous surface such as plastic or ceramic tile, using a fungicide or mildewcide should be effective. If it’s growing on a porous surface such as sheetrock, the affected surface should be replaced. Mold on wood can usually be scrubbed or sanded off, but extreme care should be taken to prevent spreading spores to unaffected areas. Closing off the affected area and setting up a fan to blow from the affected area directly outdoors is essential. Wearing proper protective gear is also important – gloves, a respirator or effective mask, sealed goggles, coveralls, etc. When disturbed, mold can release literally millions of spores into the air; this is why getting rid of mold is best left to professional mold remediation companies, except in the simplest cases. If you have an affected area larger than ten square feet or multiple areas, it’s best to call in a professional mold remediator. A good remediator will get rid of the mold without causing and additional problems and can usually address the moisture concerns that allowed the mold to grow in the first place.
Who should consider a Mold Assessment of their home or business?
People with sensitivity to mold spores, allergic reactions, adverse respiratory responses, suppressed immune systems or other health concerns.
Homes and buildings with water entry and moisture issues, chronic high humidity, or past water damage.
If you find visible mold but are unsure if the mold has spread throughout the home or building, Tiger’s Mold Assessment will give assurance of current conditions.
A Tiger Mold Assessment will, visually and with infrared scanning, evaluate all accessible areas of the house to determine the presence of mold and mold conducive conditions.
At your request, Tiger can perform additional air sample analysis through our Airborne Particulate Analysis to determine the levels of over 20 common indoor allergens.
- Our Certified Mold Specialists are highly trained and nationally certified for Mold Sampling and Assessments.
- Our service exceeds the standards of practice of the National Association of Mold Remediators and Inspectors (NAMRI).
- We can obtain on-site air samples, tape lift samples, swab and bulk samples as the need arises. We will never take unneeded samples. We use only industry proven technology and properly calibrated sampling equipment.
- Our report format presents the evaluation findings in a narrative style report that is easy to understand and includes photos. Your lab report will be analyzed and interpreted by your Tiger Mold Specialist.
- Tiger Mold Specialists are available for consultation before and after your Mold Services. We encourage you to attend the appointment to discuss conditions with our specialist.
- Appointments are available seven days/week.
Assessing your home or office for the presence of mold is much more than simply taking a few air or surface samples. Our Mold Assessment includes a top to bottom visual and infrared evaluation of the home or building to determine the most accurate and effective sampling areas, and to determine the most effective number of samples. The only way to know if mold is a concern in a home is to have a thorough Mold Assessment in conjunction with air sampling.
The Mold Assessment includes a thorough evaluation of visible mold in all accessible areas and an evaluation of mold-conducive conditions throughout the house. Infrared thermography is also used to help detect thermal anomalies on surfaces that may signal water intrusion or other moisture related conditions that could lead to mold growth. The visual and infrared assessment will allow our Mold Specialist to determine why mold has become a problem and to offer advice on how to avoid mold problems in the future.
Our Mold Assessment includes laboratory analysis of air and surface samples. Air, surface or bulk samples are taken as requested or needed, depending on existing conditions and our client’s needs. The samples are analyzed by an independent, nationally accredited laboratory that has years of experience in indoor air quality testing. The lab analysis is presented in an easily understood lab report and includes interpretation by your Tiger Mold Specialist. The report also includes photos if needed, and recommendations on how to proceed. Tiger’s Mold Assessment is available in conjunction with a Home Inspection or as a stand-alone service.
Tiger also offers Airborne Particulate Screening, an analysis of air samples to determine the level of over 20 common airborne allergens including many types of fibers, insect residue, soot, silicate, dander and more. This service provides valuable information to homeowners regarding the air quality in their homes or in the workplace and helps determine if any of these allergens may be causing adverse health effects.
Our Mold Assessment and Airborne Particulate Screening reports offer valuable insight into the air quality of the home or building that goes well beyond the visual. Follow-up consultation with our specialists is always available.
Airborne Particulate Screening
Airborne allergens can have a significant effect on your health. Our Airborne Particulate Screening will identify the indoor levels of over 20 common airborne allergens, invaluable information for those with allergies or respiratory concerns. If you suspect that unidentified allergens may be affecting your health at home or at the workplace, Tiger’s Airborne Particulate Screening can help. This screening can be performed in conjunction with a Home Inspection or Mold Assessment, or as a stand-alone service.