Black Mold Poisoning – It’s Coming From Inside The House

Perhaps it’s been a wet summer and you come across it in the garage. Perhaps you’re purchasing a home and find it during an inspection. Maybe it was just there one day, growing quietly in the corner of a bedroom. However it got there, you’ve got black mold, and clearly the world is about to end. We’ve all heard the terrifying stories and legends around black mold poisoning, and according to anecdotal “experts”, by the time you notice it, you’re already as good as dead!?


The Reality Of Black Mold Poisoning

house mold poisoning

Thankfully, the truth is much less frightening. While black mold and black mold poisoning are both significant issues, they are far from insurmountable and really no more or less dangerous than any of form mold exposure or infestation. The key is in detection and remediation. Once you’ve detected the signs of black mold poisoning, you must act quickly. The team at Mold Solutions is happy to offer this informative blog to help you separate fact from fiction and what to do if you find evidence of a black mold infestation in your home or place of business.



What Is Black Mold Poisoning

In order to understand what black mold poisoning is, we should first establish exactly what constitutes black mold. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, black mold is named Stachybotrys Chartarum and is a greenish black mold that’s capable of growing on any surface with a high cellulose content like fiberboard, gypsum board and paper. It will grow anywhere there is a constant source of moisture from water damage, infiltration, or flooding. Leaks and condensation are also high-risk factors for black mold.


Symptoms Of Black Mold Poisoning

signs symptoms mold poisoning

There is currently no definitive connection to associates the fungus that causes black mold poisoning with any particular health symptoms or diseases. There are however, common symptoms among people who have been exposed to black mold. Black mold gives off a toxic substance known as a mycotoxin, and this substance can cause symptoms consistent with mold inhalation These symptoms include but are not limited to:

  1. aches and pains
  2. changes in mood
  3. headaches
  4. memory loss
  5. nosebleeds


Other Possible Signs Of Black Mold Poisoning

Other symptoms may present themselves among people who are prone to allergic reactions or are particularly sensitive to mold, and may suffer symptoms consistent with mold reactions including but limited to:

  • a runny or blocked nose
  • watery, red eyes
  • a dry cough
  • skin rashes
  • a sore throat
  • sinusitis
  • wheezing

This list is by no means exhaustive. There could be literally millions of varieties of fungus and molds on Earth, and any of them could trigger an adverse reaction in someone with a sensitivity to that particular strain of mold. Any of these could be considered symptoms of black mold poisoning.


People Vulnerable To Symptoms OF Black Mold Poisoning

While black mold poison actually poses no more or less of a threat than any other species of mold, it is important to remember that people with systems compromised by some other factor can be more susceptible to exposure and its adverse effects.  These conditions include:

  • seasonal or chronic allergies
  • asthma
  • cystic fibrosis
  • weakened immune system
  • chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD), and…
  • immunodeficiency disorders.


How To Test For Black Mold Poisoning

Having established that many adverse reactions can be a symptom of black mold poisoning, and allowing that there will be individuals who are in fact asymptomatic, the only real ways to establish infection or a sensitivity to mold is for a doctor to perform either of the two following tests:

Blood Test

Your doctor takes a blood sample and sends it to a testing laboratory to test for the reaction of certain antibodies in your immune system to different mold species, including black mold. This can help diagnose both mold allergies and more severe reactions to mold that may indicate mold poisoning. A blood test can also check for biotoxins in your blood from mold exposure, which can also reveal mold poisoning.

Skin Prick Test

Your doctor takes tiny amounts of mold and applies it to your skin using a tiny needle. Your skin will break out in bumps, a rash, or hives if you’re allergic to that mold species.


Treating Black Mold Poisoning

cleaning removing mold in house

The suggested treatment for black mold exposure tends to run along similar lines as other allergy treatments. Over the counter saline nasal rinses and/or corticosteroids such as Flonase are recommended to reduce inflammation and swelling of the airway. Antihistamines can reduce the intensity and duration of symptoms of an immune system response, and a decongestant like Sudafed can also be used to reduce airway swelling. People who are prone to allergic reaction may want to visit their physicians for an allergy shot.


Locating And Eliminating The Source Of Black Mold Poisoning

Mold exposure can be dangerous to certain individuals, and is considered generally unhealthy. Once presence and exposure has been established, and treatment of adverse physical symptoms, identifying the source of the mold, disinfection and prevention of future mold issues become paramount concerns. Mold infestation of any sort must be located and remedied immediately. If there is mold in a given space, it is an immediate indication that there is an issue with moisture. So, the first move is determining where the water damage is coming from and eliminating it. 

What Is Water Infiltration?

In terms of homeownership water is the second most damaging element in existence, directly behind fire. Water can infiltrate your home through cracks in your home’s foundation, your basement floor, through siding, and even through windows. If there is any sort of opening, water can theoretically get in. In addition to mold issues, the consequences of water infiltration can include:

  • Negative effects on the residents’ health;
  • Weakening of the building’s structure;
  • Weakening of the building envelope’s insulating capacity;
  • Depreciating resale value of your home;
  • Legal proceedings for having a latent defect not being declared to the home’s buyer.

How Does Water Infiltration Happen?

Locating the actual source of water infiltration can be a difficult, frustrating task. Water in your basement could actually be coming in from your roof as a trickle of rainwater making its way through cracks, walls and seams throughout your home. Water can enter anywhere there is even the smallest crack or space. If the origin of water infiltration isn’t easily isolated, a building expert with access to thermal imaging may be needed to properly determine the path of the water from its source to its resting place. Now that our theoretical moisture issue has been both identified and resolved, we can now focus on the elimination of the black mold itself.


Finding Black Mold

black mold appearance photo

Locating the mold is usually not terribly difficult. Look for spots, perhaps with a slight furry texture, and take note of any wet or musty smell that may be in the area. Notice any physical reactions you or someone else may be experiencing. This could be in response to inhalation of airborne mold particles, spores or mycotoxins from an unseen location. Pay attention to any growth areas like old paper, carpets, food or wood and remove any objects that may be contributing to the issue. If you suspect the mold problem encompasses more than a localized outbreak, bring in a professional testing and inspections crew like Mold Solutions in Seattle to properly assess your mold issue.


Treating Black Mold

Once identified, a mixture of soap and water can be used or a combination of no more than one cup of bleach to no less than one gallon of water. If you do decide to use bleach when eliminating black mold, please keep these important safety tips in mind:

  • Never mix bleach with ammonia or other household cleaners. Mixing bleach with ammonia or other cleaning products will produce a poisonous gas.
  • Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions when you use bleach or any other cleaning product.
  • Open windows and doors to provide fresh air.
  • Wear masks, rubber boots, rubber gloves, and goggles during cleanup of affected areas.
  • If you need to clean more than 10 square feet, check the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) guide titled Mold Remediation in Schools and Commercial Buildings, which gives advice on all building types. You can get it by going to the EPA website.


Preventing Black Mold Poisoning In The Future

Black mold poisoning can only be fought with diligence toward mold prevention and remediation. There are several weapons that homeowners and anyone who wishes to prevent mold issues going forward can use as weapons in the war against mold. Keep in mind, that mold is all around us so regular preventative measures will always be necessary.

  1. Mold prevention starts with remembering the mold thrives in moist environments. 
  2. Monitoring humidity levels is of paramount importance, so keep an eye on problem areas like bathrooms and laundry rooms where moisture levels are likely to be higher than usual. 
  3. Don’t be afraid to use a dehumidifier if necessary, particularly during humid or rainy months. 
  4. Maintain exhaust fans, and air conditioning units. 
  5. Deal with any moisture issues promptly. 
  6. Dispose of old papers, and avoid carpet in moisture prone areas, like kitchen, bathroom and basement. 
  7. Clean and vacuum living areas regularly. 

If you are in need of mold removal in the Seattle area contact Mold Solutions today!

How People Get Indoor Allergy to Mold – How to Fix It?

What are the different types of Mold Allergies?

Many types of molds exist in the US, but only a few dozen have been documented to cause an allergic reaction in people. The most common molds include:

  • Alternaria
  • Aspergillus
  • Aureobasidium (Pullularia)
  • Chaetomium
  • Cladosporium (hormodendrum)
  • Epicoccum
  • Fusarium
  • Helmin-thosporium
  • Mucor
  • Penicillium
  • Rhizopus
  • Stachybotrys Chartarum
  • Serpula Lacrymans
  • Trichoderma
  • Ulocladium

Alternaria, Aspergillus, Cladosporium, and Penicillium are the most common molds found in homes across the US. Any of the household mold varieties can cause the development of an allergy to mold in high enough concentrations and with long enough exposure to mold and its spores.

Are there any Other Factors that make me more susceptible to mold allergies?

Many factors can make someone more susceptible to develop a mold allergy, including:

  • Family History. If your mother and father will have the most impact on judging susceptibility of allergens.
  • Occupational exposure. Jobs that put you in high-risk mold situations include construction, roofing, farming, dairy work, logging, baking, millwork, carpentry, greenhouse work, winemaking, furniture repair or any job that might require you to be in a damp environment continuously.
  • Sleeping/living in a house that is high in humidity. When indoor conditions get above 50 percent humidity, the chance of mold growth increases dramatically. Mold can collect in vent systems that are not controlled and cleaned regularly, which will put you at risk due to prolonged exposure. Windows and doors that have too much weatherproofing can cause seals that trap moisture inside the house.
  • Working or living in an apartment building that has a history of mold incursions. Mold does not die like mildew does with a hard freeze. It goes dormant, which allows for it to continue to spread across most places.
  • Because of this, mold incursions that become deeply rooted in large buildings are hard to fully cleanout, which causes them to come back again and again. If you see anything report it so that the problem can be remedied as soon as possible.

Mold will grow almost anywhere if the conditions are correct. All mold needs to grow in is a moist environment, that are usually dark, untouched places in your home which include: in walls/framing, on the grout in your bathroom, in carpet, and even in air conditioning ducts with little airflow.

What are the Symptoms of Mold Allergies?

According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, July to Early Fall are the most common months to see symptoms caused by mold mycotoxins or mold spores. But mold can grow in many undisturbed, damp places indoors, so symptoms can pop up any time of year with the right conditions. Symptoms of mold allergies appear much like most other common upper respiratory infections, which include:

  • Coughing
  • Sneezing
  • Drainage
  • Stuffy or Runny Nose
  • Itchy, Watery eyes
  • Itchy Nose or Throat
  • Dry and/or Scaly Skin

These symptoms will vary in severity from person to person. You may be affected year-round, in specific environments, or even just a specific time of year. If you are affected by allergy symptoms year-round, it is just as important to test your home for mold spores as it is to go see a doctor for an allergens test.

What are the Treatments for Mold Allergies?

Other than considering only your symptoms, doctors can conduct a physical test to be able to rule out other allergens that are common to your local area. If you are consistently affected by allergens year-round consider asking a doctor to give you a skin prick test or a blood test for allergens. If you have ideas of what specific allergens affect you, tell the doctor and he might be able to tailor the test to you better.

Here are some ways to reduce chances of mold allergies:

  1. Cleaning and repairing water damaged sources of the mold spores is the best way to treat your allergies
  2. Preventing mold growth inside of your home is also another way of stopping the allergens from causing an allergic reaction
  3. One way to prevent mold growth is to use a dehumidifier. Hot weather and high humidity can cause mold to grow at any time, and a good dehumidifier can help combat this
  4. If you spot mold growth on a hard surface (glass, plastic or tile), clean it using a detergent or bleach solution. After that, look for the source so you can prevent it from happening again. It’s also a good idea to get professional help / advice in case you don’t know where the mold is coming from. 

But even while you are doing these actions you will still probably have symptoms from the mold allergies

Are there any Other Problems Caused by Mold Exposure?

The majority of allergic responses caused by mold appear much like most pollen allergies. But some people, usually immunocompromised individuals, will have an extremely severe response. These include:

  • Mold-induced Asthmatic Response. Mold spores can induce asthma much like Scotch-Broom found in the NW, but some people with histories can react with a severe asthma attack.
  • Rhinitis Caused by Mold Spores. Inflammation of the nose caused by spores or mycotoxins released from mold.
  • Sinusitis Caused by Mold Spores. Inflammation or infection of the sinuses caused by a high concentration of mold spores in an environment’s air supply.
  • Hypersensitivity pneumonitis. This is a rare reaction caused, much like sinusitis that is caused by a high concentration of mold spores in the air.
  • Bronchopulmonary Aspergillosis. This can occur in people that have Cystic Fibrosis or Asthma. Specific to the Aspergillus mold.
  • Dermatitis. In extremely rare cases, when mold concentrations are abnormally high for prolonged periods of time, dermatitis (skin rash) can form on open areas or even areas that are in contact with contaminated clothing. Immediate removal from the home and doctor intervention is the best course of action.

Will mold allergies make my asthma worse?

If you have asthma, mold spores can induce asthma symptoms like many other allergens. People that have weakened immune systems are at risk of a severe asthma attack. Symptoms of asthma include:

  • Chest tightness
  • Coughing
  • Shortness of breath
  • Wheezing


Medicines that help with mold allergies

Antihistamines. These over-the-counter (OTC) medicines help with itching skin and itching, runny, and sneezing noses. They block histamines, an inflammatory compound released by the body during an allergic reaction. They include loratadine (Claritin), fexofenadine (Allegra Allergy) and cetirizine (Xyzal Allergy, Zyrtec Allergy). Nasal Sprays are available with a physician’s prescription.

Oral Decongestants. There are many OTC oral decongestants including Sudafed, Mucinex, and many others. These can cause hypertension (high blood pressure) in certain people. You should consult a physician to be sure they won’t cause hypertension in you.

Nasal Corticosteroids. These nasal sprays help treat and prevent inflammation located in the upper respiratory system. For many casual but severe sufferers of allergies, these nasal sprays are the most effective treatment of symptoms caused by allergies. These include mometasone (Nasonex), budesonide (Rhinocort), fluticasone (Xhance). They are generally safe for long-term use.

Decongestant Nasal Sprays. These include oxymetazoline (Afrin) and others. Do not take for more than 3 or 4 days continuously because it can cause the symptoms to come back worse than before when you stop using the spray.

Mast Cell Stabilizers. These prevent your body from producing histamines. They are available in eye drops and nose sprays.

Topical Corticosteroid ointments. Prescription-strength may be needed for severe rashes but for most cases of an allergic reaction on the skin, antihistamines and a topical corticosteroid will clear it up.

Montelukast. Montelukast (Singulair) is a medicine taken in order to block the action of leukotrienes. Leukotrienes are immuno-response chemicals responsible for excessn mucus. It has also been used to treat allergic asthma, but when choosing medications to help with asthma always consult your physician.

Immunotherapy. The two types of immunotherapy used are Allergy shots and sublingual immunotherapy (SLIT).

Allergy shots involve getting allergens injected into you multiple times with increasing dosage to allow your body to build the antibodies needed to fight the allergens. Allergy shots are not for everyone and do not usually do anything for people with allergies to food or medicines.

SLIT, or sublingual immunotherapy, is a way to treat people without injections. The tablet is put under the tongue, but is only available for a few allergens, such as grass, ragweed pollen, and dust mites.

While both immunotherapies are relatively safe to use, they should both be done by a professional allergist or physician’s office.

Epinephrine (EpiPen). Found in premeasured devices that are easy enough to operate by yourself. Needed within a few minutes of the first symptoms of a severe allergic reaction (anaphylaxis).

Natural Remedies for Mold Allergies

Nasal Rinses (Nasal Lavage). Uses a specific container, such as a bulb syringe or a neti pot, to irrigate your nose or sinuses with saltwater. Use distilled and sterilized water for the solution and use the same water to rinse or wash out the container after every use. This natural remedy will help keep your nasal passages clean of mold spores and other allergens.

Dust mask. Use a dust mask when you know you will be around and possibly agitating dormant mold. Examples include, but are not limited to, yard work in which you are going to be dealing with damp leaves or if you will be moving items that have set for long periods of time. This is more of prevention than a remedy, but if you are already showing signs a dust mask might help with symptoms if you have to stay in an area with mold spores.

windows closed allergy mold spores

Sleep with windows closed. Try it out! Outdoor spores can easily circumvent your AC filter this way and allow the spores directly into your home. Keep your windows closed especially if you are already showing symptoms. Late Summer through Fall is when the majority of outdoor mold allergens proliferate.

Avoid being outdoors for prolonged periods during certain times of the year. If you have a history of mold allergies, or you are immunocompromised or you know your immune system has been weakened, you should avoid being outdoors as much as you can so that your body does not have a worse allergic reaction. If you are showing symptoms during late Summer through Fall, you should also avoid the outdoors in order to give your body an easier time fighting the allergens.


Multivitamin – Specialized towards boosting your immune system is recommended. But if you use a specialized multivitamin take the dosages into account when adding the

other supplements to a multivitamin.

Vitamin A – Recommended to take 25,000 IUs daily. Space it out in multiple doses if Possible.

Vitamin C – Recommended taking 2000-3000 mg multiple times a day until you establish a bowel tolerance and reduce dosage accordingly. (Bowel tolerance is the total daily amount of vitamin C that can be taken without causing diarrhea. This amount varies from person to person and can change depending on stress or other complications.)

Vitamin E – Recommended to take 400 IUs daily.

Zinc – Recommended to take 30 mg daily.

Bioflavonoids (Catechin, Quercetin, and Hesperidin) – Bioflavonoids are natural antihistamines and strongly anti-allergenic. Recommended to take 2-3 grams daily with meals. When symptoms are severe, take no more than 6 grams. When used in conjunction with Bromelain and vitamin C, the treatment is enhanced. Products that combine these compounds are for purchase

Flaxseed oil – Recommended to take 1 tbsp daily.

Probiotics (Bifidus or lactobacillus acidophilus) – Probiotics are bowel microflora organisms (microscopic bacteria that normally inhabit the intestines). Take one in the morning and one in the evening with meals.

Best Places to Live with Mold Allergies

Since there are so many types of mold and other allergens, it is virtually impossible to name one place as a safe haven for all types of allergy victims. Still, there are things to consider. There are perimeters when selecting a place to move to for people suffering from mold allergies, but unfortunately, there is no true, universal answer. Allergy sufferers should always check the mold and pollen count of each season for at least a year, if possible, in any area before moving. They may be making their life mush worse by coming into contact with a previously undiagnosed allergen for You.

Large Cities And Mold Allergens – Better Or Worse?

Large cities, such as McAllen, TX, Louisville, KY, Jackson, MS, Memphis, TN, and Syracuse, NY seem to make existing allergy sufferers worse. All were consistently in the top cities for allergens in the US in both Fall 2018 and Spring 2019, according to a study released by AAFA (Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America). Since there are so many more allergens in a city, which could be because of the population density, it is impossible to be prepared for everything even when researching these places before you move. Air pollution may also play a part in making your symptoms worse.

What is Your Mold Allergy Terrain?

Warm, windy conditions are bad for mold allergy sufferers. Mold thrives on warmth and travels by way of the breeze. Even though the salt air will keep some mold away, some

are resistant to the salt air and can still thrive not far inland. So even though it would be pretty to move to the beach, it may not give you a reprieve from your mold allergies.

Even in the northern US, where freezes occur often, mold can grow from the snow and ice melt off that can pool or create water damage in wood. Places where it stays below

the freezing temperature for months at a time are some of the few places where mold will at least not grow outside for a large chunk of the year.

It is good to be prepared when you know you must move, but you should not move to “get away from your allergies”.

Mold Today – Mold Allergies in 2020

Mold allergen levels vary, and while a few generalities will work in your favor, you should always check multiple sources for updated mold and pollen counts.

Each year the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America classifies the worst cities for pollen sufferers. They base the list off of criteria, including high pollen counts, high allergy medicine usage and lower access to specialized care.

Call Mold Solutions To Solve Your Indoor Mold Problems Today

If you know that mold is a problem in your residential or commercial space, feel free to contact Mold Solutions 

Protection & Mold Prevention – How Mold Removal Works, Part 3

Now that we’ve covered the basics of mold identification and remediation, and the steps you need to take if you notice mold growth, it’s time to talk about protection: protecting yourself and other residents, as well as protecting the building itself.

Personal Mold Protection

When inspecting or even handling mold-covered surfaces yourself, there are a number of ways to protect yourself from immediate exposure to mold. We’ve already talked about this, but it’s worth going into more detail:
  • Protect your skin. Wear a protective, airtight suit. If you don’t have one and the expense of getting one is too high, wear any old clothes that cover your whole body, and then throw them in the trash after you’re done. No skin should be left exposed except where necessary – usually this includes parts of the face. Gloves are also essential!
  • Protect your lungs. the minimum recommended protection when dealing with mold is an N95 mask, but if you have a respirator with separate filter cartridges, you should ensure that you use a fine-grade P100 filter. Provided that the mask is a snug fit, this filter will block 99.9% of particles that are 3 microns or more in diameter.
  • Protect your eyes. The cheaper respirator and face protection products don’t cover eye protection. In that case, wear any plastic goggles that are a snug, airtight fit.

One other thing that many people miss with mold infestation is that there might also be bacteria present, and that bacteria may be releasing endotoxins everywhere. Endotoxins are typically pyrogenic, meaning they’ll cause a fever or another type of inflammatory reaction.

If you notice any such symptoms after inspecting the seldom-visited crawlspaces, go and see a doctor as soon as possible.

After a remediation is complete, and the building’s been fixed, it’s time to repopulate the premises with – you guessed it – stuff!

But now the problem is – all of that stuff is probably ripe with either dust, mold spores or dead mold itself. Maybe even a hefty amount of moisture, as well, depending on where it’s been sitting; a basement, for example.

Keep in mind that toxicity-wise, your body doesn’t necessarily care if the mold is alive or dead. It’s still bad.

Mold-proofing Your Stuff: Furniture and Clothes

After your stuff has been exposed to mold spores, it can later serve as a “fresh” source for new mold to spring from (given the right conditions). Cleaning porous and wearable materials can seem like a difficult job, but have no worries.

For clothes, the solution is washing it all with Borax, or other alternatives which aren’t aggressive on the textile colors. Car seats and furniture can be thoroughly vacuumed just for good measure. Your vacuum cleaner should be equipped with a HEPA filter, since the issue here is not just the odour, but mold spores as well.

Protecting the Building

Protecting the building itself is an extra expense, and really depends on the extent of the moisture problem as well as your budget. In this case we recommend consulting a professional mold remediation company before wasting money on unnecessary operations.

If needed, there are several ways to protect the building materials and surfaces using biodide and antimicrobial products. Some of these agents require very specific handling when used indoors so be sure to read the instructions carefully:

  1. ULV fogging machines – the cold Ultra Low Volume foggers can be used to disperse any completely liquid disinfectant with ease. The disinfectants commonly associated with protection from mold are Concrobium and Anabec products.
  2. Directly applied disinfectant – although bleach might be efficient for clothes, it’s a different story altogether when used on some surfaces, its active substance doesn’t penetrate into wood, so any hyphae that goes deeper into the wood will still be there ready to sprout new mold. On these surfaces use something like MoldStat Plus or Fiberlock Shockwave disinfectant.
  3. Some have suggested using lime (the same lime used for soil amelioration) for controlling odours in crawl spaces. Although lime is used for this purpose, among other uses, it is not a stable long-term solution for mold prevention. Which leads us to our next common issue…

Why You Should Often Check for Mold

Moisture problems are a recurring issue, especially in humid areas of the country. It doesn’t even necessarily have to be raining, as water can find its way into dry materials like wood or drywall paper simply from the day/night fluctuations of temperature and humidity.

Leaky pipes, broken roofs, lack of humidity control and ventilation – all of these can cause damp spots, and without water there can be no saprophytic decay. Luckily, with regular checkups, and even “nosing” around for musty odours, you can keep everything in top condition by reacting on-time and while there’s still a chance for a quick fix.

Like bacteria, mold grows at an almost exponential rate in its preferred conditions – what starts out slow may soon turn into another big remediation, so stay safe and maintain your properties.

It’s a low effort solution over a longer period of time, and without a doubt the best thing you can do to protect your home from a large-scale infestation.

Why Product Reviews Can Be Misleading

Whether you’re buying masks, filters, cleaning chemicals or anything else to aid you in your battle against mold, you’re likely to be searching for these products online.

It’s extremely important not to just look at the product reviews, how many stars it has, what consumers comment on Amazon or wherever you’re looking. Here’s a couple of reasons for that.

Firstly, you might be looking at non-specific products like filters that behave exactly as advertised, but not blocking some gases that may be volatile compounds, emitted from the mold or bacteria themselves, or the damaged building material such as wood.

Second, when looking to protect your items and the building from a re-emerging infestation, note that it can take quite some time for recurring mold to become visible if the product/method was inefficient.

So if you’re reading reviews online about a product or service that advertises prevention, know that the people leaving the reviews might not have waited long enough to be sure enough of the effectiveness.

Saprophytic mold, feeding on things like wood or drywall paper, can take a month to visibly grow or even stay dormant until the right season comes – usually a combination of high humidity and moderate temperatures. This same mold can take 72 hours to grow in a petri dish in ideal lab conditions.

With that food for thought, feel free to write with any questions you might have or call us for consultations at Mold Solutions. We’ll do our best to try and help you out!

Mold Remediation, Preparation & Treatment – How Mold Removal Works, Part 2

In the previous post, we talked about how to perform a thorough search for mold, what the prerequisites for mold growth are, and provided a quick overview of the mold removal procedure.

Here’s what you can expect to learn from part 2 of this series:

How to Handle Different Mold Growth Situations?

When you’re buying a property, be sure to do a thorough check on the presence of mold. Document everything you see, take photos and video material to an expert or bring one along for inspection. The last thing you want is to put an extra expense on your back for both mold removal and furniture handling, after an already exhausting move-in.

You also want to avoid checking all the nooks and crannies of the location without protective equipment. You never know what you’re going to find, so just be careful, protect yourself or call an expert for a thorough check.

Another scenario that can prove costly, if you don’t think about health up front, is when renting or buying office spaces. Subjecting workers and visitors to toxic mold spores could cost you more than paying for mold remediation if you had known about the infestation from the get-go.

Find the afflicted areas beforehand, negotiate the price down if possible, or arrange that the previous owner deals with the problem first, and fix any moisture issues before signing anything consequential.

Common Types of Mold

It’s interesting to note that there are over 100 000 different types of mold, but only a few species are responsible for the majority of problems we’re trying to deal with.

There are also subtle differences between mildew and mold, but both are considered a type of fungus that we coexist with and are able to cause allergic reactions in humans, in certain cases.

You don’t need to be afraid of all types of mold, though. Some mold is actually very useful and an integral part of entire industries. There are molds used in cheese-making, synthesis and extraction of antibiotics (penicillin), and other uses like soy fermentation and enzyme production.

Only a few types of mold require professional handling, but you need to know how to identify these. You can find out more about the different types of “bad” mold in this article, which brings us to our next dilemma…

DIY Solutions For Mold Problems?

When can you solve the problem yourself, and how to do it?

In short, you don’t have to call in the cavalry for every type of mold growth. Bathrooms – showers, in particular – tend to be fertile ground for a type of mold that’s able to feed on soap scum and organic matter, and is mostly considered non-toxic.

If it’s not black or brown mold, you can remove it with easily-obtainable chemicals like grout cleaners and even white vinegar might do the trick. Vinegar usually doesn’t kill off and remove everything so you’re better off with the purpose-made products.

Be aware that even dead mold may cause allergic reactions in some people, so killing mold is one thing, but removing it to stay on the safe side is a much better proposition if you can afford to do it.

It shouldn’t take long to remove smaller patches of common bathroom mold. It takes up to 20 minutes for most mold removal products to do their job, just spray the afflicted areas. One thing to note is that some of the fumes released from these products can be irritating and unpleasant, so leave the bathroom window open after applying the product.

Wear rubber gloves for protection, not because of the mold, but because the chemicals you’d be using can be quite aggressive on the skin.

When to Call The Professionals

Like we mentioned previously, not every mold growth requires professional handling. Larger problems that have escalated due to long-term exposure to excess moisture require a plan of action and professional handling.

You could get away with just fixing the source of moisture, but if there’s mold growth and you can’t identify it with certainty, then you might find out that the problem hasn’t been solved when it affects your own or the health of other residents.

In the case of toxic black mold or brown mold, it’s best to stay safe and call your local mold removal company to let them handle it. For black mold, it’s near impossible to identify without looking under a microscope anyway.

Toxic mold requires much more time, diligence, and better protective equipment that’s also more expensive. There’s no reason for you to make such an expense for what’s supposedly a one-time job, and also lose a weekend or even worse – days off of work.

It’s also a job that’s very physically demanding in times or areas of high temperatures and high humidity. Depending on the age of the building, behind some walls may lie either asbestos or glass wool, both very dangerous materials to handle. Asbestos is a known carcinogen that’s still not completely banned in the US! Glass wool is known to cause respiratory issues and skin irritations.

All in all, professional mold remediation specialists get exposed to lots of hazards in their normal workday which is why their protective equipment has to be top notch. If you’re not sure what grade of particulate filters to use for your respirator, that’s a solid indicator that you don’t have enough experience to do this yourself.

The EPA has a basic guide on what the standard protective equipment for mold remediation should include.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Mold Solutions does offer free consultations, so call if you need anything.

How Professional Mold Remediation Works – Step by Step

The first task is to solve the water problem. Remember, mold only grows where there’s enough water, so the first thing that needs to be done is to cut off any sources of moisture:

  • Fix leaking pipes
  • Replace cracked roof tiles
  • If you live in an overall humid place (relative humidity 50% or more) a dehumidifier might help.

Once there’s no new water seeping into the molded material, we can begin the remediation procedure:

  1. Sealing off the contaminated area or room – this is done to prevent mold spores, dust, and other particulates from spreading all over the building. The room needs to be completely air-tight.
  2. Turning off and sealing off HVAC, heating and furnaces as these will help spread the mold spores as well.
  3. Removing affected materials (tapestry, drywall, wood or OBS, insulation, etc)
  4. Treating the remaining non-removable material (concrete, wooden framing, etc) with a biocide to kill off the mold.
  5. Placing all removed materials in airtight bags.
  6. Cleaning the room
  7. Mold Solutions uses Microbe Guard, a permanent, surface-modifying treatment that, once applied to a product, creates a new surface. This surface is permanently resistant to microbial attack.
  8. Final visual check.

With these steps completed, the owner is free to install replacement materials: insulation, new walls, tapestry or paint, et cetera.

The entire operation can last several days, but this varies on a case-by-case basis and you’ll be given a time estimate based on an initial inspection anyway so be sure to watch for that and plan some away time while work is in progress.

Why Spores Are a Problem?

Without water, mold will die, but the spores will stay. Once exposed to moisture again, the spores will continue spreading mold, which is why spores are quite a serious problem.

A disturbed molded surface or material will release spores into the air, spreading them across the premises. This is why removal must be done with care and remediation (protection) with extra diligence. You can read more about mold protection and prevention here.

When inhaled, mold spores can cause serious health issues, especially with infants, the elderly and anyone who has respiratory problems like asthma, allergies, bronchitis etc.

How to Find The Right Professionals in Your Area

Google is your friend here, so start your search there. Do your part and double-check that online reviews aren’t actually fake.

The company you hire must also have all the necessary licenses and permits. This is easily verifiable.

Mold Solutions is licensed, bonded and insured. The company has been in the business for more than a decade and offers free mold assessments in Seattle, Bellvue, Kirkland and other areas across Washington state.

Diagnosing Your Mold Problem – How Mold Removal Works, Part 1

Finding Mold – Where To Look?

Where To Find Mold? Most To Least Obvious Places To Look

Outside of residences, mold can be found everywhere from dead leaves, branches, and almost every other organic substance. The role of different molds in an ecosystem is to feed on and decompose dead organisms. This is also mostly true for other members of the fungi kingdom, and it’s called saprotrophic nutrition. This is why these organisms are also abundant in plant soil, especially damp forest floors.

Some molds are useful, being used in cheese-making, but more famously in the production of pharmaceuticals. Penicillium is the mold used for the production of the antibiotic penicillin. But other types of mold can be very harmful to humans and our pets if the mold is ingested or its spores find their way into our lungs.

Surfaces, Areas, Materials, and Susceptible Devices

Within residences, mold can be found “eating away” at any material that satisfies all of its nutritional requirements, as long as there is enough moisture.

Materials and places to check:

  • Timber construction – especially structurally important timber like trusses
  • Drywall – look for signs of moisture
  • Cardboard – check boxes sitting in the basement or the attic
  • Plywood and OSB panels
  • Mortar in broken or cracked walls
  • Certain types of paint can be more likely to grow mold (oil-based paints have more organic matter)
  • Even PVC, polypropylene and other tubing or piping can provide a home to mold if situated in a moist place or if leaks occur.

Check under your kitchen sink for leaks and signs of mold. Do the same for bathroom pipes – check the drain pipe that leads from the toilet tank to the bowl from all sides, and also regularly clean the tank itself.

Other common places with enough moisture and suitable growth substrate include cabinets and carpets. In fact, moisture and dust are enough for mold to grow on practically any surface in your home.

Also, your air conditioning system collects all sorts of nasty stuff that provides fertile ground for mold growth, and air humidifiers are especially susceptible if not maintained properly.

It can often happen that residents don’t even know about mold growth until the mold spores become airborne and respiratory symptoms arise: cough, sneezing, scratchy throat or eyes, and even more serious allergic reactions.

Any surface, furniture piece or device that has the potential to collect significant amounts of dust must be cleaned regularly with anti-microbial protection in order to prevent mold growth, but also other microbes and even insects from gathering.

When Dust Enters The Equation

It’s important to remind that dust is a very heterogeneous mixture, but quite complete if looking at the variety of organic and mineral components that mold can feed upon.

Dust carries everything from dead skin and animal dander, to flour used in the kitchen, insect waste, and of course regular dirt coming from outside. In short, dust is usually the depositor of the organic part of the substrate where mold thrives.

But all of these components aren’t enough to promote a thriving patch of mold. This is where moisture comes into play.

Watch out For Moisture!

Water is the key! In fact, moisture is the first thing that should activate a rotating red light in your head, as it’s a prerequisite for any type of mold growth. This is why bathrooms, kitchens, humid basements and closets are so susceptible to mold growth.

Other sources of moisture could be a crack on the roof or a wall where the rain can splash and settle in, and of course, leaking pipes (both open and walled). Once water finds its way in or onto a surface, that surface is susceptible to mold growth, especially if it hardly ever gets to dry out completely.

Poor indoor ventilation is a boosting factor for mold growth as stale humid air will inhibit or slow down the process of drying. Bathrooms are especially susceptible to this, which is why they usually have pre-built ventilation systems. Unfortunately, ventilation shafts and ducts require maintenance, otherwise, the same vents can be responsible for spreading all sorts of allergens.

Be aware that mold can also grow under a surface, so it might remain hidden after an initial visual inspection. So if you see paint peeling off a wall, first ask yourself if it’s peeling because of moisture, and if there’s bad stuff underneath, invisible to the naked eye.

An Introduction to Mold Removal Procedures

The goal of mold remediation is not only to remove the mold-infested areas but fix the issues that led to mold buildup in the first place and outline a set of suggestions and actions to be taken in order to prevent the mold from reappearing.

The basic procedure of mold remediation consists of the following:

  1. Identifying the extent of the infestation
  2. Isolating the affected area
  3. Removal and cleanup of furniture and items
  4. Dust cleansing with a HEPA vacuum
  5. Anti-microbial remediation
  6. Prevention treatment

This is a basic overview of the whole procedure. The details of each step and preceding conditions are described in part 2 of this guide.

There are different scenarios in which a mold inspection and remediation can occur. It’s one thing to think about mold when you’ve found it in your own home, but what if you’re in the process of moving and buying property for yourself or to host your company?

Read on to find out more.