Spores can be inhaled, absorbed through the skin or ingested on our food. And, because some people are more susceptible than others, one person may become debilitated by exposure to mold in the home, another person sharing the same environment is essentially unaffected.
Infants, the elderly and anyone with immune system deficiencies due to disease, chemotherapy, etc. are particularly susceptible to serious illness following exposure to microbial contamination.Many species of mold and mildew (or the mycotoxins they produce) can cause or aggravate a number of ailments. Common effects from molds such as stachybotrys atra, penecillium, cladosporium and several strains of aspergillius, are asthma, pneumonitis, upper respiratory problems, sinusitis, dry cough, skin rashes, stomach upset, headaches, disorientation and bloody noses. Numerous other species of mold and mildew are also toxic, and many mycotoxins are known carcenogens. Severe exposures can lead to internal bleeding, kidney and liver failure and pulmonary emphysema.Such health risks due to the presence of mold in a dwelling are a serious concern to occupants, and can pose potential liability for owners of rental properties.
Contamination of residential properties by toxic mold and mildew is becoming more and more prevalent. Although mankind has been aware for thousands of years that mold thrives in damp conditions, only recently have we begun to understand how dramatically its presence can impact us. Toxic mold and mildew is not discerning, affecting both old and new buildings.
The odor or appearance of mold can signal a variety of problems. The moisture that gives life to fungal growth in older buildings can be either a moisture problem created by tenant's use, or water intrusion due to leaky components, or both. In new construction, it could also indicate the existence of construction defects.
Why is Mold Such a Concern Today?
Molds and mildew are everywhere in our environment, and in nature, they perform the very important function of breaking down organic matter. These microbes need very little to survive and thrive: air, moisture (liquid water isn't necessary, most species propagate with only 40%-60% relative humidity), and food. Fungi are especially fond of building materials like sheetrock and wood, carpets, and enjoy soft goods such as furniture and clothes. Every home offers a smorgasbord for eager spores!
There are a number of reasons for the increasing problem of mold and mildew in our homes, not the least of which is the fact that Title 24 to the United States Code of Federal Regulations, relating to energy conservation, brought new construction methods and materials, meaning that buildings don't "breathe" as freely, trapping moisture vapors inside the building. Most newer homes are built on concrete slabs, which emit moisture for several years as they cure, and because they are porous, moisture from the soil beneath the slab also vaporizes into the living space. Leaky roofs, windows, and plumbing, whether caused by poor construction or lack of timely repairs, often result in colonization of mold and mildew spores. The microbial spores become airborne, spreading inside wall cavities, behind cabinets and wallpaper, and through ventilation systems. When moisture and temperature conditions are favorable, widespread contamination can occur in a surprisingly short time.