The ubiquitous mold spores, invisible to the naked eye, can be found everywhere, both indoors and outdoors. Think of mold spores as microscopic seeds. Being microscopic and light, spores make their way into your home merely by floating in the air every time you open a door or window, or, like a burr, they can enter by clinging to pets, shoes and clothing. Open windows, doorways and ventilation systems are all access point through which spores can enter. So is this a problem? Not necessarily. Unless you are particularly sensitive or allergic, it is usually only if mold is growing and producing spores in your home that you will have airborne levels that may cause health conditions.
Mold will only grow if spores land somewhere that has the ideal conditions for growing – places with excessive moisture and a supply of suitable nutrients. If this does not happen, incoming spores do not normally cause any problems. Molds grow best in moist, warm and humid environments. Areas of dampness, such as those caused by leaks or excessive humidity, provide an ideal environment for mold growth. When mold spores land on a damp spot they can begin to grow, digesting the material they are growing on as they do so. Molds are capable of growing on a variety of different surfaces, including fabric, paper and wood.
Mold growth is found in areas where leakages and flooding have occurred and near windows where condensation builds up. Wet cellulose materials are most supportive of mold growth, including paper products, cardboard, ceiling tiles and wood products. Wallpaper, insulation materials and upholstery are
other typical substrates for mold growth, however, many additional indoor substrates can serve as growth sites. These include carpeting, upholstered furniture, showers, shower curtains, bathroom fixtures, potted plants, and the soil around potted plants. Anytime moisture or even high humidity is available, spores can germinate and mold can grow and produce thousands of new spores using these organic materials.
In homes with central HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) systems, properly maintained in-system or in-duct filters should remove many of the spores present. Nonetheless, many occurances are known where the HVAC system itself served as an amplification and dissemination site for spores. In
these cases mold has been found growing on air filters as well as in the ducts. This can often be prevented by routine maintenance. Mold growth in the home is often noticeable – it may be visible and often produces a musty odor. If you suspect mold in your home, you should get preliminary air quality testing done.
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