How can I prevent mold growth?

Mold and Air Quality – Part IV

What is Stachybotrys chartarum?

Stachybotrys chartarum (also known as Stachybotrys atra) is a greenish-black mold that can grow on materials such as drywall or sheetrock, ceiling tiles and wood when they become moist or water-damaged. Not all greenish-black molds are Stachybotrys chartarum. Some strains of Stachybotrys chartarum may produce mycotoxins. Whether a mold produces mycotoxins depends on what the mold is growing on and conditions such as temperature, pH, humidity or other factors. When mycotoxins are present, they occur in both living and dead mold spores, and may be present in materials that have become contaminated with molds. While Stachybotrys is growing, a wet slime layer covers its spores, preventing them from becoming airborne. When the mold dies and dries up, air currents or physical handling can cause spores to become airborne.

Currently, there is no test to determine whether Stachybotrys growth found in buildings is producing toxins. There is also no blood or urine test that can tell if an individual has been exposed to Stachybotrys chartarum spores or its toxins.

How can Stachybotrys affect my health?

Typically, indoor air levels of Stachybotrys are low. As with other types of mold, at higher levels adverse health effects may occur. These include cold-like symptoms, rashes, sinus inflammation, eye irritation and aggravation of asthma. Some symptoms are more general – such as inability to concentrate or fatigue. Usually, symptoms disappear after the mold is removed.

How can I tell when Stachybotrys chartarum is present in my home?

Many molds are black but are not Stachybotrys. For example, the black mold often found between bathroom tiles is not Stachybotrys. Stachybotrys can be identified only by specially trained professionals through a microscopic exam or by cultures. The Florida Department of Health does not recommend that people sample mold growth in their home. All indoor mold growth should be removed, regardless of type.

How can I prevent mold growth?

Water is the key. Without it, mold growth cannot start, much less multiply and spread. The easiest way to prevent the mold from gaining a foothold is to control dampness. Keep your home clean and dry. When water stands for even 24 hours, common molds can take hold. Keeping humidity levels below 60% and venting moisture from showering and cooking to the outside are several ways to prevent the conditions that can lead to mold growth. Other ways include:

  • Clean and dry up spills within 24 hours
  • Dry out wet building materials and carpets within 24 hours
  • Use an air conditioner or a dehumidifier to reduce the indoor humidity levels below 60%. If you have a central air conditioning system and need a dehumidifier to reduce relative humidity below 60%, you should have the air conditioning system examined for problems
  • Do not carpet bathrooms or basements

Note: While most experts suggest a relative humidity of less than 60%, below 50% is best for controlling both mold growth and dust mites. Dust mites are microscopic animals related to spiders, ticks and other mites. Dust mites eat mold and dead human or animal skin scales (flakes) and leave allergenic proteins. Dust mites reduce allergen production at these lower humidity levels.

Where can I obtain additional information on the Internet?

EPA – Mold Resource

EPA IAQ Reference Guide

EPA Mold Florida

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Posted on June 12, 2012, in Inspections and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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