When mold is in your house
Thanks in part to DIY and home improvement shows on TV and a plethora of information on the Internet, homeowners are becoming more aware of—and concerned about—the presence of so-called black mold in their homes. Randy Ryden, founder and owner of Covenant Property Inspections and owner of Healthy Home Doctor in Georgetown, advises the View on what homeowners should know about mold.
Origins of mold: Mold spores (“seeds”) are found everywhere. They grow and thrive in normal indoor temperatures. To develop to a mold growth, they require a cellulose food source, which can be almost any building product. Most significantly, a water source is required. Randy explains, “As long as water remains inside pipes and outside homes, mold should have little opportunity for growth.”
Toxic v. common mold: The term black mold is a misnomer; it is a sensationalized term for Stachybotrys, a toxic fungus, which is actually dark green in color. Almost all mold found in homes is black in color, but most is not toxic. The main difference between toxic mold and common mold is the presence of mycotoxins (poisonous chemicals produced by fungi).
Signs of toxic mold: Musty smells and water leaks are signs of serious mold growth, which can affect your health. If you find that you often feel sick while at home but feel better when away, then find another place to stay, especially during sleeping hours, until your home can be treated by a professional.
Health effects of toxic mold: Prolonged exposure to toxic mold can have psychological and physical effects that vary from person to person. Symptoms can include minor to major mental distress, respiratory illnesses, and other physical issues, including eye irritation, loss of lung mass, and skin irritation.
Preventing and eliminating mold: The key to preventing mold growth is home maintenance: repairing water leaks, maintaining HVAC units and duct work, and regularly inspecting the roof. If you think you have toxic mold in your home, Randy advises that you go straight to a professional: “There are times to do it yourself, but testing for mold in your home is not one of them.”
In Texas, mold inspectors must be licensed by the Department of Health Services. Homeowners can check valid licensing and consumer rights at www.dshs.texas.gov/mold.