The Help Center

COMMON QUESTIONS

WHAT IS MOLD

Molds are a type of fungus and are found virtually everywhere, both indoors and outdoors. For mold to grow it needs a food source, such as leaves, wood, or paper, a source of moisture, and a warm environment. Molds release tiny, reproductive spores that travel through the air and can be inhaled by humans..

People are exposed to mold all the time, and under normal conditions mold exposure is not a problem. However, certain environmental conditions within buildings, such as excess moisture, can cause mold to amplify indoors, leading to high levels of airborne spores. Inhalation of spores in greater numbers than the body is normally used to can cause lead to health problems in sensitive individuals.

WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF EXCESSIVE MOLD EXPOSURE?

The typical reaction to elevated levels of mold spores is an allergic reaction. This is similar to the seasonal allergies many people develop in the fall when outdoor mold levels are often high. The typical symptoms are sneezing, nasal and sinus congestion, irritation in the eyes, nose, and throat, and coughing. In sensitive individuals, more serious problems may develop such as:

  • shortness of breath 

  • frequent headaches 

  • trouble concentrating 

  • mood changes 

  • nausea and dizziness 

  • stress 

  • fatigue 

  • asthma 

  • skin irritation

HOW CAN I TELL IF I AM SENSITIVE TO MOLDS?

Individuals with pre-existing allergies or respiratory conditions, are likely to be more sensitive to mold spores. Other individuals that may be sensitive include infants and young children, the elderly, and immune comprised patients (people with HIV, undergoing, chemotherapy, liver disease, etc.) Most people are exposed to mold daily with little or no reaction. Prolonged exposure, though, over a long period of time can make a person sensitive to molds when they previously did not have a reaction.

ARE MOLD RELATED HEALTH PROBLEMS PERMANENT?

In most cases, mold related health problems go away after the mold is removed or after the occupants leave the impacted building. It is believed, though, that the affected individuals may have a greater sensitivity to molds in the future so that later it will take exposure to lower levels of mold spores for a shorter duration of time to develop the same problems.

WHAT CAUSES EXCESSIVE MOLD GROWTH?

Mold requires a moist environment to grow. Any excess moisture in a home or office can lead to amplified mold growth. This moisture can come from water damage from flooding or leaking roofs and pipes. However, the moisture may not be from an obvious source. Improperly constructed building foundations can cause excess water vapor to seep through the floors of buildings. This can cause mold growth in carpets and in wall spaces where ventilation is poor.

HOW DO I KNOW IF I HAVE A MOLD PROBLEM?

Visible mold and/or a musty odor are two signs of a mold problem. Not all mold, though, is visible. Mold can grow in wall spaces, attics, cupboards, beneath carpet and under appliances. Hidden mold growth can release dangerous spores to the air. Any building that has suffered water damage or is unusually humid should be inspected for excessive mold growth by an experienced environmental consultant.

HOW IS A BUILDING TESTED FOR MOLD?

esting of a building for mold typically involves both air and surface sampling. Surface sampling involves collecting a sample of material suspected of harboring mold with a sterile swab or tape. This sample is then viewed under a microscope to determine if the sample contains mold, and if so, what type of mold. Air sampling involves collecting a known volume of air and determining the number and types of mold spores present. Indoor levels are then compared to outdoor levels to determine if mold amplification is occurring within a building.

IF MOLD IS EVERYWHERE, HOW MUCH IS TOO MUCH?

In general indoor levels of molds are usually 30-70% of outdoor levels and the distribution of spore types should be similar. The presence of higher levels of certain types of molds indoors when compared to outdoor levels may indicate that mold contamination is present indoors and there is a problem.

HOW MANY SAMPLES ARE ENOUGH?

Usually at least 3 or more samples are collected by the inspector to provide the baseline and accurate information as to indoor levels. Santa Monica Mold and Environmental does not charge for individual samples collected and analyzed. This is included in our standard inspection Fee. Be careful of other inspectors who will quote a very low inspection fee, then will charge you for a large number of samples, raising your cost by several thousand dollars.

WHAT IS THE COST OF A TYPICAL MOLD INSPECTION?

Check the "pricing" tab. We are very upfront about our pricing.

WHAT IS STACHYBOTRYS?

Stachybotrys Chartarum is a greenish-black fungus that is found throughout the world and is typically wet and slimy to the touch. There are somewhere in the neighborhood of 15 different species that grow in surroundings where the humidity exceeds 50%. Stachybotrys Chartarum thrives on materials high in cellulose and low in nitrogen content. Examples include wet leaves, straw, carpet, wallpaper, thermal insulation, fiberboard, dry wall, gypsum board, paper, dust, and hay. What these examples have in common is their propensity to become chronically moist or water logged due to excessive humidity, water leaks, flooding, etc. It is not found on materials such as plastic, vinyl, or ceramic tiles, nor is it the green mold in bread or between shower tiles. Since homes and buildings are not typically tested for it, it is difficult to say how prevalent this mold is.

IS STACHYBOTRYS DANGEROUS?

Stachybotrys chartarum is dangerous to humans because it can, given the proper environmental conditions, create multiple toxic chemicals called mycotoxins. These toxic byproducts exist in the spores of the mold, as well as in the tiny fragments that can become airborne. Luckily, these spores and fragments are often unable to become airborne because they are part of the slimy mold cluster. However, once the mold dries up, there is a much greater possibility that the spores or fragments can become airborne and come into contact with humans. Of particular concern is the threat that humans will inhale and ingest these toxic spores.

 

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