Mold needs three things in order to grow – a surface to grow on, food, and moisture. Moisture is necessary for mold growth, and it is the only factor we can control. Mold reproduces itself by sending microscopic spores into the air. When these spores find a good environment they settle and growth.
Mold spores are found everywhere in nature.
Its purpose is to decompose dead organic material, such as wood.
If mold disappeared tomorrow we would literally be living on a trash heap and all life on earth would become extinct in a matter of months.
However, mold becomes a problem when it is growing indoors. There are common molds, such as Penicillium, Aspergillus, Cladosporium, and Basidiospores, and there are molds that are rarely found outdoors, such as Stachybotrys, the so-called toxic black mold. We should stress that common molds growing indoors in large quantities can affect the occupants’ health just as much as low levels of toxic molds.
People and pets can get sick from ingesting moldy foods, but they mostly get sick from inhaling mold spores. We must think of mold as being potentially toxic because mycotoxins have also been found in common mold spores. The levels of toxicity differ from one species to the next and the effect on human health varies according to the particular sensitivity of the individual.
Many people believe that toxic black mold is only found in warmer climates. That is not so. Mold is highly resilient and has evolved to adapt and thrive in many different climates. It can be found all over the globe, even in the harshest of environments, such as Antarctica. Mold has even been found in outer space aboard the space station.
Stachybotrys, one of toxic black molds, grows in a wet environment. It is the environment, food, and amount of moisture that dictate the types of mold growing at a particular location.
When mold is growing indoors it can compromise building materials and cause serious health problems, especially in infants, the elderly, and people with depressed immune systems. Pets can also be affected, especially if mold is growing in carpets. They will not only get sick from inhaling spores, but also by licking their feet and fur they will ingest mold.
Mold is a result of excessive moisture or a water event, such as a roof leak, plumbing leak, or water infiltration from the outside. The origin of the problem should be addressed immediately because as the amount of moisture increases with time, toxic black mold will settle and become the predominant species.
If you believe you have a mold problem, get your home tested for mold.