1. What is mold?
Mold exists naturally outdoors. The EPA explains it has a critical job to do in nature when it breaks down fallen leaves and dead trees, but mold growing in our homes is not where we want it! We don’t want our houses or our bodies breaking down from mold spores.
Tiny mold spores, invisible to the naked eye, float naturally through the air both indoors and out; spores grow when they have a food source and a moisture source i.e., land on organic substances like wood or drywall that is damp. If your home has moist surfaces, mold has the potential to grow. There are several types and colors of mold, but none of them will grow without moisture.
Black mold typically receives most of the fear and attention in residential and commercial properties, with good reason. It’s important to know if you have black mold. But there are real dangers of white mold that also must be addressed.
2. How do you identify white mold?
The most common species, according to Curren Environmental, of white mold spores found in indoor air samples are:
- Penicillium /Aspergillus – Most sub-species are allergenic; only a few are toxic. They typically grow with the humidity in the air.
- Cladosporium – Considered to be allergenic.
- Curvularia – Considered to be allergenic.
- Stachybotrys – Considered the most common toxic mold species, but not all sub-species are toxic. These species need a direct water source to grow and will turn into black mold.
- Memnoniella – A toxic mold and sister mold to Stachybotrys. The two species usually grow together; it may have a white edge.
Indoor and outdoor mold air sampling tests or “Spore Traps” can be performed to give you a comparison sample of the mold spores that live in the ecosystem outdoors and those found in a particular room.
Mold can appear as white or as other colors such as black, green, and grey. If mold is white, the spores could be colorless because of the surface on which the mold developed. Mold can also appear white because it is in the early development stages and will change as colored spores are produced. Any color of mold can be toxic under the right conditions, so using color as your test of urgency is not the best choice. All molds found in your home have negative effects and therefore, determining the specific type is not a requirement. It’s much more important to determine how you will eliminate it.
White mold can also be confused with mildew or efflorescence. You can do the following tests yourself, to determine what substance you are dealing with.
- If the white substance is on masonry, it is not mold.
- If the white substance will dissolve in water, it is not mold.
- If the white substance can break into fine powder between your fingers, it is not mold.
Mildew – mildew rarely grows on anything other than plants. Mildew will not destroy materials. One of the dangers of white mold is that it can ruin the surfaces it grows on.
Efflorescence – efflorescence is a type of salt deposit left behind by water which has seeped through concrete, brick, or stone. When the water evaporates it leaves behind the white crystalline substance which does not grow or spread. Efflorescence will not pose a health risk, unlike white mold, which can lead to significant health hazards.
3. What are the dangers of white mold?
White mold can deteriorate your home:
Your home’s structural integrity is at risk when white mold is present. White mold is dangerous because it uses building materials as its food source. The Ultimate Mold Guide says “The role of mold in the environment is to break down decaying materials, which is why it is so efficient at this job. Mold can bury into the wooden structure and drywall of a home and slowly break it down, causing very serious damage.”
As it eats away at your walls and floors, your home can become unstable. And if not treated quickly, it will continue to feed on your home, causing greater damage and increased costs and time to repair your home. You must act quickly with any type of mold growth to prevent it from getting worse.
White mold can harm your body:
As with any type of mold, exposure may cause various health reactions. The EPA points out that physical reactions to white mold can be immediate or delayed. “Molds produce allergens (substances that can cause allergic reactions), irritants, and in some cases, potentially toxic substances (mycotoxins).”
Physical reactions to touching or inhaling mold spores may include the following:
- Respiratory reactions – sneezing or runny nose
- Eye irritation – red or itchy eyes
- Dermatitis – skin irritation or rash
- Asthma attacks – for those predisposed to asthma
- Headaches or nausea
Research of the effects and dangers of white mold is currently ongoing. You should consult with your medical team when concerned about your exposure to mold.
4. How to get rid of white mold?
White mold must be addressed and removed to prevent further damage to your property and your loved ones! Unfortunately, mold growth is one of the most significant and trickiest issues to resolve. In order to not cause further exposure to the hazards of white mold you have found in your home, it is best to have a professional mold remediation team come in.
ServiceMaster Restore is ready to help you eliminate the dangers of white mold. Their trained and certified technicians will recommend the best way to contain and eliminate the mold. They are also prepared to restore your home from any mold or water damage.