What is Mold?
Learn the Basics about Mold
Molds are part of the natural environment and can be found outdoors and indoors. Outdoors, molds play a part in nature by breaking down dead organic matter such as fallen leaves and dead trees, but indoors we don't need these services, so mold growth should be avoided.
- The key to mold control is moisture control.
- If mold is a problem in your home, you should promptly fix the water problem andclean up the mold.
- It is important to dry water-damaged areas and items within 24-48 hours to prevent mold growth.
Molds are a group of organisms that belong to the fungi kingdom. “Fungi” and “mold” are often used interchangeably. There are reported to be over 100,000 species of mold. Fungi are neither animals nor plants and are classified in a kingdom of their own. Fungi include molds, yeasts, mushrooms, and puffballs. It is estimated that more than 1.5 million species of fungi exist. Some molds are very toxic just as some mushrooms are very poisonous. During active microbial growth, molds produce microbial Volatile Organic Compounds (mVOCs) as part of their metabolic process of breaking down their nutrient source. These mVOC chemicals are volatile, are released directly into the air, and have a moldy or musty odor. If you have musty odors in your home, it is possible that mold is growing somewhere.
Some molds can produce toxic substances called mycotoxins. Some mycotoxins cling to the surface of mold spores; others may be found within spores. More than 200 mycotoxins have been identified from common molds, and many more remain to be identified. According to Will Spates, who is an experienced mold remediator and Building Biologist, “Mycotoxins are produced by some molds some of the time. They are usually produced when a mold colony is in com- petition for a nutrient source or when the colony is stressed by environmental conditions. Mycotoxins may be stimulated by the application of biocides and antimicrobials. There are anecdotal references to very high mycotoxin concentrations in molds that have been exposed to ozone. Mycotoxins are present whether the spore is viable (alive) or not viable (dead).” Mycotoxins are not usually odorous but can be very problematic to health.
If you want to learn more about how mold grows and spreads than check out our article, How does Mold Grow. If you've read enough about mold and just want to get rid of it naturally, than check out ecolife's articles on how to clean mold.