If the humidity level in your home exceeds 60%, there is enough moisture to support mold and bacterial growth. You do not need leaking pipes, storm damage or flood to have dampness in your home.
A damp home increases the risk of your child developing asthma before age 7.
(Annals of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology; ERMI: Environmental Relative Moldiness Index).
MOLD is pervasive in Florida. It is a natural fungi found both indoors and outdoors. There are thousands of varieties of fungi. In order to thrive, mold needs three things: moisture, food and warm temperature. The moisture does not have to come from a direct water source such as a leaking pipe or flood; mold can thrive on moisture pulled from excess humidity in the air.
Two recent studies (WHO in 2009) and (Mendell in 2011) and subsequent peer reviews, prove a direct link to dampness and respiratory ailments such as wheeze, bronchitis, pneumonia, sinus and ear infections, tonsillitis, common cold, acute bronchitis and asthma. In fact, living in a damp home almost guarantees the development of at least one of these ailments and prolonged exposure correlates to the development of acute, or lifetime, affliction and a compromised respiratory system.
You do not need visible mold to have a health concern. Most people would recognize this situation as a concern. This mold developed in a vacant house with poorly installed wall cladding and excess humidity. Missing or poorly installed house wrap coupled with defective stucco eventually allowed moisture to build-up in the drywall. This moisture elevated the humidity levels in the closed, non-conditioned, room and allowed mold to develop. Mold was most likely present long before the home was abandoned but it bloomed visibly once the AC was removed. The potential health threat was present long before it became noticeable. In fact, the mold you can’t see poses a greater threat to your health and especially, the health of your children.
Mold is, and should be, the least of your worries. If you see visible mold, it either needs to be properly cleaned or it needs to be removed. In most homes, this should be a fairly straightforward process. Large scale cleaning/removal is generally related to storm damage, homes which suffered water damage or the loss of air conditioning during hot, humid months. Often, the occupants were away for several days/weeks. The biggest health threat is the systemic, long term, exposure to hidden mold and dampness. Most molds do not produce mycotoxins and it is typically, only those which do produce mycotoxins that we are concerned with.
Nearly 10% of our children have diagnosed asthma. Over 8% of adults have asthma. The numbers are growing each year. The CDC reports an increase of 6% between 2002-2005. The common link to this growth appears to be exposure to dampness which supports fungi and bacteria.
We spend 95% of our time indoors and researchers report our indoor environment is not healthy. Mold is not the only problem. Our damp, recycled air also contains VOC’s, bacteria, insect feces, pesticides and other pollutants.
In 2009, we made over 17,000,000 trips to a medical facility for asthma treatment. Ohio State University reports fecal pellets from dust mites may contribute to 80% of asthma development in both children and adults. The average cost for a consultation with a board certified allergist is $300.00 and last year Americans spent over $56 billion on asthma treatment. Why are we talking about asthma instead of mold? Because it is proven that mold and damp environments are causally related to asthma. As a Board Certified Environmental Consultant, we are not just concerned with mold; if you have mold, you most likely have other concerns and these may be a greater threat than the presence of mold.
It is easy for the consumer to be fooled by mold scams.
Many appear legitimate – and in fact, they are. Many mold scams are perpetrated by legitimate companies and even laboratories.
Here are some of our favorites:
- Mold test kits you purchase at Lowes or Home Depot for $19.95. Save yourself $20.00 – you have mold.
- Home Inspectors who advertise fake or worthless mold credentials.
- Mold remediation companies who perform their own testing – initially, your home is full of MOLD and when you or your insurance company run out of money, it is all gone. The Declining Wallet Remediation Technique works every time.
- Licensed Mold Assessors with no background in building science. It is not enough for you to know “excessive” mold is present; you need to know why and how to eliminate the root cause. This generally relates to a building construction issue.
And, our favorite scam…
- INTERNET MOLD ASSESSMENT. These are the companies who have offices in every city and town in the USA. They are easy to spot –they have an office in every city and town in the USA. Most of them even advertise an office location (fake). For a small fee they will send one of their highly trained associates to your home/office. The highly trained associate is a subcontracted, unlicensed, untrained person who they pay a nominal fee to show up and pull an air sample and ship it to the lab. They know nothing about your unique building/situation. You get a boilerplate report – mold present. You may have saved $100.00 – well, actually you didn’t because you got nothing of value. If this is the level of service you want, save even more money – go to Lowes and buy the $19.95 mold test kit.
If you are concerned about indoor air quality, if a member of your family suffers from allergies or asthma or if you have experienced water damage, seek advice from a Board Certified, Indoor Environmental Consultant.
The CIEC is the highest credential granted in the US. A CIEC will assess the overall air quality, make sure you understand any issues and help you develop a plan to ensure a safe and healthy home.