Mold can grow anywhere in and around any building, including houses, cars, offices, and schools – old or new. Any area near water or moisture can produce mold under the right conditions. In a home, sources can lurk anywhere, near any plumbing from the toilet to the dishwasher, hot water tanks, under the toilet tank, sink cabinets, attics, or basements. Leaking or condensing water pipes can cause mold growth under flooring and inside walls.
Air conditioning units are breeding grounds and are perfect environments for mold growth. Additionally, providing a mode of transportation with the constant flow of air. Poorly insulated ductwork may cause condensation on the outside that can turn into mold growth on the inside.
Exterior water sources can breach the interior of the home – a leak in the roof, sprinkler water seeping through a crack in the exterior, or a poorly graded yard can allow water into a crawl space.
Familiar and Often Forgotten Sources of Mold
- Mattress and pillows
- Hose bib
- Clothes dryer
- Potted plants
- Compost bins
- High humidity
Mold and Water-Damaged Buildings
Dr. Jodie A. Dashore calls Water-Damaged Buildings (WDB) “Toxic Soup.” Bacteria and fungi like to grow in a wet and damp environment. Living in a WDB exposes the residents to ”Toxic Soup” daily.
You might be thinking a WDB must endure a flood or other massive water damage to the building – this is not inherently true. Mold only needs a small amount of water damage to grow and flourish. Genetically predisposed people to mold-susceptibility can have an immune reaction with a tiny amount of exposure – not dose-dependent. Therefore, any amount of exposure can lead to severe and long-term illness.
According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), more than a quarter (25%) of all buildings in the United States are water-damaged. Many of these buildings are located in districts and townships that have historic preservation laws and damp climates from winter snow or summer rainstorms. The rules often require a percentage of historical homes to be preserved. Many homeowners choose to keep the basement for financial and aesthetic reasons.
Faulty construction, inadequate designs, incomplete construction, and improper window installation or bathroom caulking are the most common reasons mold invades new buildings.
What is in the “Toxic Soup”?
“Toxic Soup” includes any sized fungi and bacteria associated with water, including
- other metabolites of amoebas
- microbial volatile organic compounds (VOCs)
- other building VOCs
Single-celled microorganisms existing independently or as a parasite (dependent upon another organism to sustain life). Lyme disease is an example of a disease caused by bacteria – Borrelia and Babesia.
Multicell or single-celled organisms can be a pathogen to all people or an opportunistic pathogen that affects immunocompromised persons. Mold species are examples of fungi that can be both opportunistic and a true pathogen. Several species are opportunistic, while Stachybotrys species is a true pathogen.
Pathogenic gram-positive bacteria produce bioactive agents -notability actinomycetes supply antibiotics, fixing nitrogen and decomposing cellulose to soil bacteria.
D-glucose polysaccharides linked by beta-glycosidic bonds. Beta-glucans are a diverse group of molecules that vary in molecular mass, viscosity, solubility, and three-dimensional configuration.
Known for aggravating existing lung diseases, which may lead to inflammation of the lungs. Endotoxins [aka Lipopolysaccharides (LPS)] are also components of gram-negative bacteria cell walls released into the environment upon the death of bacteria. It’s common to find mycotoxins when endotoxins are present.
Any irritant that causes inflammation and edema.
Volatile organic compounds
VOCs are organic compounds released into the air when there is a “secondary metabolite” in microbes – commonly associated with a musty odor. While the musty smell is associated with mold, indoor bacteria and actinomycetes are also possible suspects. VOCs can alter the metabolites of fungi, bacteria, and the other organisms adding to the release and load of the toxins.
Encompasses multiple types of fungi that reproduce by forming spores. Mold grows in any climate or season both outside and inside. When a mold spore lands on a moist surface in a warm and humid environment, it reproduces and grows.
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