Frequently Asked Questions About Mold

Questions

Answers

What about that ‘toxic mold’ I saw on TV?

What you don’t know about the ‘toxic mold’ that we see on TV is that in almost all of those situations the homeowner and a contractor or insurance company are fighting. As a result, nothing is being done to remediate the mold, it just keeps growing and growing and growing. Mold left uncared for leads to problems. Mold cared for eliminates problems. With that said it is true that molds can produce mycotoxins. 

Myctoxins are bad things, it actually means ‘mold poison’. The good news is that this kind of toxin or poison is not like radioactive waste. Just because you’re exposed to it does not mean you are destined for a toe tag. Once its source is addressed and it is removed you will be on the mend and your home will be safe.

There are a few factors that make mycotoxins dangerous for humans. One is prolonged exposure and the variety of threshold limits we individually have. Those most at risk are infants and the elderly because of underdeveloped and weakened immune systems. 

If you are a relatively healthy person but seem to be having chronic health issues it could be that over time your allergy to mold spores, mycotoxins, or bacteria has slowly weakened your system. Once again, you can take heart in the fact that once the issue is properly addressed you will be on the mend. In many cases, you may be extra sensitive to mold in the future. Some people become like human mold detection units. If there is mold present, their bodies will react to it like a food allergy or any other kind of allergy.

What is the difference between The Mold Consultant and a general home inspector?

A home inspector is a valued resource to ensure that needed repairs are done before a property changes hands from a buyer to a seller.  But The Mold Consultant does what the home inspector does not do; namely, detects, tests, analyzes and finds solutions for mold.  Only a qualified mold consultant like the Mold Consultant has the credentials to test for mold, analyze the samples and write protocol for solutions.  A thorough real estate transaction where mold is suspected or detected needs the services of The Mold Consultant, as a general home inspector does not supply such specialized findings.

Confusion has sometimes occurred because some home inspectors include mold findings in their inspection reports.  Some may even perform air samples.  While these home inspectors may have the credentials to take such samples, few have the training to analyze the samples.  Even a licensed home inspector does not have the remediation training or the credentials to write protocol outlining the accepted industry standards required for removing mold.

My grandparents never worried about mold! Isn't all of this just scare tactics?

It is true that some mold remediation companies have made huge profits on mold clean-up.  Some have played on people's health fears and taken advantage of what could simply be called media hype.  However, with no exaggeration, there are many differences between today's mold and the mold of our grandparent's or parent's generations.  There are many more occurrences of legitimate mold problems today than in the past.

More than at any time in the past, our homes and buildings are built with synthetic, man-made materials.  The building materials used in older homes and buildings were made of natural materials that allowed such structures to dry out better than today's structures.  They were at less risk for mold because they were not encased in life-extending sealants and money-saving fillers.  In addition, before the energy crisis of the 1970's, homes and buildings were much less air tight.  With less energy-efficient insulation and windows, our homes and other buildings could really breathe in earlier times.  They dried out easier because more airflow found more ways to flow in wall cavities and around windows.  Contrast that with today's lower-cost materials and energy efficient homes and buildings that lead to today's common mold problems that were uncommon in the past.

Still not convinced?  One of the best food sources for mold is a synthetic material called cellulose.  Building a home, or any other building, is impossible today without using cellulose!  It's in all insulation and sheet rock.  The Mold Consultant is a great ally in fighting today's growing mold problems.

Doesn't simple bleach kill mold?

Bleach does not kill mold. Many people claim that they have solved their mold problems with a bucket of bleach water and a rag. In fact, they did "clean up" their mold, but they didn't kill it.  Bleach is a cleaning agent. It is categorized as a germicide.  Mold is a living organism. To kill mold, you have to rupture its cell walls, which requires biocide.

Mold and mold spores can be trapped and removed by the bleach rag, but the mold is not killed. Use of bleach was a good idea in that it left a cleaner smell and had a whitening effect but, again, bleach is a cleaner--not a killer. The bleach rag used to clean (not kill) the mold will have countless living mold spores on it that will start to grow on any surface the rag touches.

How much danger am I in if I live or work around mold?

Mold produces mycotoxins.  Mycotoxins are bad organisms, literally meaning "mold poison".  Mycotoxins attack the immune system, and can have varying degrees of health consequences, from minor to extremely serious.  The good news is that this kind of toxin or poison is not like radioactive waste.  It does not have to result in death!  Once the toxic mold's source is found and removed, those exposed to the mold can be on the mend and the home or building can be safe for habitation.  But the toxin must first be found and removed.

The degree of danger posed by mycotoxins can depend on several factors.  One factor is prolonged exposure--how long the person is exposed to the toxic mold.  Another is the threshold limit of harm a particular individual has to toxic mold; each person varies.  But some generalizations do apply.  Those most at risk are infants and the elderly because of underdeveloped or weakened immune systems.  If you are a relatively healthy person not in either of these age groups but seem to be having chronic health issues, one possibility is that over time your allergy to mold spores, mycotoxins, or bacteria has slowly weakened your immune system.  But, once again, you can take heart in the fact that once the particular mold issue is addressed you will be on the mend.  You may have the side effect, however, of being hyper sensitive to mold in the future.  Some people are like human mold detectors!  If there is mold anywhere present, their bodies will react as if to a food or any other type of allergy.

What you don't know when you see toxic mold talked about on TV is that, in almost all cases, there are homeowners, contractors and insurance companies fighting over whether or not the mold is toxic and harmful to health and, whether toxic or not, who is responsible for the structural clean-up and repair.  Determining the full extent of the mold's damage and whether or not the mold is toxic are the only answers that will end the fighting and litigation.  But what is being done about the mold during all of this fighting until clear answers are found?  Nothing. The mold continues to grow...and grow...and grow.  Mold cared for eliminates problems.  Mold uncared for always leads to problems, either structurally, or in the form of potentially serious health problems.

Why can't I just buy one of those mold kits sold at the store?

Because these kits, while inexpensive, only state the obvious--that you have mold, something you already knew!  If more information is needed (and more information is always needed), you have to send results to a lab that is not homeowner or contractor friendly.  The inexpensive kit suddenly becomes very expensive.  The only result such kits can provide is that the site has tested "positive for common mold".  Neither a landlord, the owner of a school or office building, a contractor nor a homeowner could use such a vague result for any definitive purpose.  Residential and commercial clients need detailed, reliable, accurate information.  The Mold Consultant provides such information, answers your specific questions, and provides detailed reports that are understandable.

How many air samples do I need?

A minimun of two air samples is required for accurate testing.  One is taken near the compliant area, the other outside about 10 feet from the edge of a home.  A business may require up to 100 feet outside the compliant area.  The outside test serves as a baseline or control test to compare with the indoor sample to determine whether or not a problem does, in fact, exist.  To understand more about air sample results, click the 'TESTING" section to the left.

While two air samples are the minimum, in some cases people request more, depending on their particular needs.  There are many different types of samples, but the number you request is totally up to you.  However, more than two air samples are always suggested when:  

  1. The home or business is very large and comparing two indoor samples (one compliant, the other non-compliant) would yield more accurate test results.
  2. If the compliant area is random (more frequent in commercial than residential settings). This random scenario usually occurs in commercial settings where people are complaining of health problems but the source cannot be pinpointed.