What is a mold? How mold Grows?
What is mold? A mold is a fungus that feeds directly on its environment (no photosynthesis), grows in multi-cellular filaments and generates spores for reproduction. The fungus can have different colors, but a common variety of mold is the one called “mildew”. This variety has a white or grayish color and can usually be found in households (mainly in bathrooms and particularly in shower stalls).
How does mold grow? In general, mold can grow in any possible environment, indoors and outdoors, in all seasons. But, the fungus prefers warm, humid and damp places. The following types of mold can be found in your home: Alternaria, Penicillium, Aspergillus and Cladosporium. One particular variety that has a greenish-black color is Stachybotrys chartarum, also known as “black mold”. This can grow indoors, in areas in which there is much cellulose: paper, wood, dust, lint, gypsum and fiberboard. Some types of mold can be found on foods, while other can even grow on textile environments such as carpets.
In the reproduction process, small spores are formed, so small that they cannot be seen with the naked eye. Spores have the ability to survive in harsh environments in which the growth of the fungus is impossible. Then they can be transported through the air indoors and outdoors. While traveling through the air, spores can land in any moist environment, and the growth of mold begins.
Mold can have an important role in decomposing dead trees, leaves and any other type of organic material. Because of this, mold is often found in places in which there is less light and where plants are decomposing, but also in basements. In areas in which mold grows indoors, the fungus can be a danger to the health of the residents, but it can also affect the surfaces and objects that support it in a negative way.
What Spaces of a Home Can Molds Occupy?
The common areas of a home that can be occupied by mold are basements and shower stalls as well as any place that has moisture favorable for the growth of the fungus. Good examples are: ducts, carpets, furniture, roofs, ceiling tiles, wallpaper and panels. Mold can also develop around plumbing pipes. If you leave doors and windows open, you can let mold from the outside enter your home involuntarily.
Vents can let mold indoors too. The fungus can be carried inside once attached to shoes, clothes and pets. It can end up underneath the carpets, wallpaper or drywalls. When the development of the fungus is severe, you have an infestation. This can lead to a musty smell in the household, and you can see the mold growth.
What are the symptoms of mold exposure? Typical Health Issues Caused By Mold
What are the symptoms of mold exposure? Because the substances produced by mold can irritate some people, allergies can be caused. Some of these substances can even be toxic. The health of a normal individual is not really affected, but those who are sensitive to the fungus can experience certain symptoms. Allergies can often occur when people are exposed to mold or to its spores. The symptoms can occur immediately or at a later time. You can experience sneezing, coughing, tearing, runny nose, eye redness, rash, skin irritation or wheezing. Those who have asthma can experience asthma attacks.
Even if you are not allergic to the fungus, your eyes, skin and airways may become irritated in some circumstances. One of the varieties of mold that generates toxins is black mold. There are cases in which irritations become severe, in which people have fever and breathing difficulties. Infections can occur in the bodies of people who have chronic lung diseases or immune system problems.
The impact that mold will have on various individuals in a household cannot be predicted because each of them can react differently. It also depends on the variety of mold that they have to deal with. The Institute of Medicine discovered in 2004 that the connection between mold and respiratory issues, coughing and wheezing could be demonstrated. A severe increase for people with asthma was also shown, along with a connection between hypersensitivity pneumonitis (a disease that resembles pneumonia caused by long term exposure to mold) and the fungus.
Now you know what a mold is, how mold grows, and what the symptoms of mold exposure are. In the next article you will find out how to treat mold allergies.