Mold can plague any house, but if you understand its causes, properties and cures, you can take control of the problem before it takes control of your home. Even if you do not currently have mold in your home, you can benefit from educating yourself. If you know how and why mold grows, you can prevent it from germinating altogether.
Mold is a fungus, just like yeast, rust and mushrooms. There are more than 100,000 species of mold in nature. Some of the more common varieties of house mold are Aspergillus, Penicillium and Stachybotrys (black mold). House mold appears on wet surfaces, usually in a patchy arrangement with a velvetlike consistency. Some molds look more like slime. It can take on numerous colors, including white, black, dark green, gray and yellow.
Mold spores exist everywhere. Like all fungal spores, they just need moisture to grow. For example, mold can grow on damp clothing, flooded carpets or moist shower tiles. Even if you have no water damage or standing water in your home, mold can still grow if you have high humidity. Humidity corresponds to the amount of water vapor in the atmosphere. Excess vapor can stick to walls carpets, ceiling, furniture and fixtures.
If, for example, you have a wet carpet that has flooded after a rainstorm, mold may begin to grow on the carpet if you fail to dry the fibers quickly. Mold spores live inside the dust and dirt, so when dust particles rest on the wet carpet, the spores can begin to germinate. During this process, they begin to multiply and release gases (known as volatile organic compounds) into the atmosphere.
If you do find mold in your home, you can spray it with detergent, vinegar or bleach (diluted with at least two parts water). If you ignore it, you may begin to experience symptoms that include infections, swelling, rashes, headaches or difficulty breathing. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency even warns of an elevated cancer risk with toxic mold exposure. Only a trained mold expert can determine whether a specific mold variety has toxic properties, so rid your home of any mold immediately to minimize your exposure.
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