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Written by Robert Sheriff , MS, CIH, CSP and Henry P. Shotwell, PhD, CIH, Vice President
November 5, 2018
A Hot, Wet Summer
During the hurricane season, hot humid air envelops most of North America. Beginning in the spring and lasting until the first frost of autumn, the air is typically well above 60% relative humidity, which is ideal for promoting the growth of mold. The official hurricane season runs from June to October, and even though they may not qualify as hurricanes, many storms at this time of year have enough rain and wind to cause structural damage and allow for the growth of mold. Even if your home isn’t damaged, prolonged periods of high humidity will promote the growth of mold on many surfaces.
The Black Mold Myth
First off, let’s dispel a common myth about the so-called “Toxic Black Mold” stachybotrys. Stachy is no better and no worse than any other mold. It was mistakenly thought to be involved in an unusual lung condition years ago, but the myth lives on even though all implications, including those of the government have been retracted. Secondly, there is no such thing as a “toxic mold.” It’s a meaningless term, although all molds, as well as all other living creatures, produce waste products that can produce adverse health effects under the right (or possibly wrong) conditions. (Did you know that the mold Penicillium produces a “toxin” called Penicillin?) Finally, whether a mold is black, green white, brown, pink or any other color, has absolutely no bearing on a given mold’s ability to create damage. In fact, most mold colonies change their colors as they grow and mature.
Wash Mold with Soap and Water
Unless there has been severe water damage, almost all mold growth situations can be handled by simply washing the surface with mild detergent and water and rinsing with household bleach. If there has been wind and rainstorm damage, the extent of the problem may require the services of an experienced, certified remediation firm often the problem to be remediated is not mold growth, its water damage. The building should be allowed to dry out thoroughly and the roof damage repaired before removing the mold. Otherwise, it may re-grow. A ruptured pipe or other source of continuous water flow inside the structure must be found and repaired, followed by thorough drying before removing any mold that has started to grow. Remember that mold can grow in a few days so action to stop the water/moisture and a speedy clean-up is essential.
Stop Water and Dehumidify
If mold growth in your home or other building is not due to storm damage or a leaking pipe, humid air is probably the cause. Keeping doors and windows closed and using a dehumidifier will go a long way toward keeping the mold from coming back. Remember that an air conditioner also acts as a dehumidifier.
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