Sensgreen Knowledge Base

Mold

What Is Mold?

Mold is a type of fungi that can be found anywhere around us both indoors and outdoors. Even though these fungi are a crucial part of nature, when they grow inside living spaces they can cause serious health problems and damage to the buildings. There are different types of mold contamination and the color may vary from one type to another. But they all share one common thing and, that is the need for moisture or water to grow.¹

Mold Spread and Growth

Since mold reproduces with airborne spores, it can get inside your building in various ways. These tiny particles can attach to your clothes and get carried into your buildings or, they can enter the building from an open window or a doorway.²  Mold spores can stay dormant for a long time and once the conditions are suitable for them they start growing. Most of the mold types will require very high humidity levels in order to start growing. However, after the growth, they can survive with lower humidity levels as low as 60%.³

Mold grows best in damp and humid places and it is a pretty common problem in households and buildings. Due to their hydrophilic nature, most of the time they appear in places where water is present, such as around the water pipes, places with water leakage, or under the sink and around the toilet areas.

Health Effects of Mold

Molds can cause some serious health problems for the occupants of the building. Exposure to indoor mold can increase the symptoms of asthma such as chronic wheezing and irritation symptoms.⁵ Also molds produce allergens that can cause allergic reactions and sometimes release toxic substances. These allergic reactions can be seen as sneezing, runny nose, or skin rash. They can also trigger asthma attacks for people with asthma.⁶ All these symptoms are can be more dangerous for infants, the elderly, and people with existing respiratory illnesses. ⁷ 

Amount of the mold exposure can also increase the severity of the symptoms and the effects. These types of exposure are most common in workplaces rather than houses due to occupational or workplace hazards.⁸ Molds can also cause health effects even when they're dormant or dead. ⁹

allergy

Allergic reactions

runny nose

Sneezing, Runny Nose

Asthma

Asthma

mold-management

Mold Growth In Buildings

Apart from the health issues and symptoms on the human body, mold can also cause many problems in the buildings. Facility managers should track and keep the Humidity levels (RH) below 60% in order to prevent molds from growing on the premises and ideally should be kept between 30%-50%. According to the EPA, keeping the humidity levels below 30% may also provide a solution against pests and dust mites. ¹⁰

Mold is a fungal growth and it might cause both aesthetical problems on buildings and many health problems for people inside those buildings. Molds can grow very fast (24-48 hours) when the conditions are available for them. When molds start growing on different damp surfaces in the building, they may start digesting the surface they are growing on which may result in damage or even destruction of the surface itself. ¹¹

Humidity levels (RH) should be monitored continuously. By controlling the humidity and moisture you can save money, reduce health risks and prevent potential building damages.

Sick Building Syndrome and Mold

SBS (Sick Building Syndrome) is the name of the situations where the majority of the occupants of a building are experiencing one or more health problems and symptoms after they spent some time in that building. These symptoms are related to the time they spent and aren't really causing any specific illnesses yet can distract them from work and cause increased absenteeism.¹²

Headache, eye, nose, or throat irritation, itchy skin, dizziness, nausea, difficulty in concentrating, or fatigue can be listed as some of the SBS symptoms. Most of these symptoms and complaints are reduced after leaving the building. ¹³

However, mold contamination is not always a visible thing. Sometimes there might not be any visual sign of mold growth. These types of growths where mold is actually present but not visible to us, it's called hidden or invisible Mold. Also, mold is one of the leading causes of Sick Building Syndrome. Molds are responsible for almost 80% of the SBS cases and the main cause of the illnesses. ¹⁴

 

sick building syndrome

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