Today our Newsletter will address an issue that concerns most homeowners. Due to its complexity, it requires detailed information from a certified professional. We spoke with Cesar Costa from HouseMaster. He provides Home Inspection Services and here is what he told us about Mold Myths and Facts.
Does it affect health?
There is no consensus of the effects of mold on health. In an extensive 2004 report, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) did not find enough evidence to identify health effects most likely caused by spending time in damp indoor spaces ostensibly containing mold. However, experts found that being in damp indoor spaces relates to respiratory illnesses: nose and throat [upper respiratory] symptoms, coughing, wheezing, and asthmatic symptoms. They also found limited evidence that these environments can be associated with shortness of breath, the development of asthma in people who did not previously suffer from it, and lower respiratory symptoms (coughing, wheezing, chest tightness, and shortness of breath) in healthy children. Based on available research, IOM was not able to substantiate claims of numerous other symptoms such as skin irritations, fatigue, cancer, lung disease, or respiratory infections. There was enough evidence of health effects overall, though, that IOM identified damp indoor spaces as a public health problem that needs to be addressed.
Can We See It?
Mold spores are microscopic. Most mold spores range from 3-100 microns in size, but some can be as small as 1 micron. The scale is approximately: Bacteria < Mold < Pollen. Mold spores are suspended in the air and then air conditioning systems help to spread them quickly to the entire home. Mold spores may even be able to go through dry wall: “Mold submicron particles are also small enough to travel through walls, floors, and ceilings, particularly during dampness and flooding.” Therefore, sometimes mold is not visible, but it is present in the air and can affect our health.
When Testing is Recommended:
When should you recommend an air quality test as a real estate professional?
- People: If there are small babies, pregnant woman, or people with asthma or allergies, then it is a good idea to perform a mold test, since that group is more sensitive and susceptible to mold-related health effects.
- Property: Signs of current or former moisture should trigger a recommendation for mold testing, especially if there is evidence of leaks on walls, ceilings, or roofs. Consider also leaks under sinks, in closets, or general moisture in bathrooms. If the property is vacant or the air conditioner has been off for an extended time, conditions are conducive to high humidity due a lack of de-humidification typically provided by the air conditioner. If a house is a foreclosed property, a mold test is strongly recommended due to the reasons previously stated, which are further aggravated by a general lack of air circulation, air conditioner operation, and proper maintenance.
Can you clean it yourself?
Drywall is porous and mold can grow only 48 hours after water damage. After 7 to 10 days of moisture, black mold can develop. Consequently, it is important to address water damage quickly. Ideally, moist conditions need to be dried out in less than two days.
Cleaning and removal of mold should be done by a professional mold remediator since spores can be harmful to health. As pieces of dry wall are removed, a high quantity of spores is released from the dry wall fibers, the dust that comes from cutting, the wall voids, and more. This large quantity of spores can contaminate the house and make the mold spore exposure worse. Spores can settle on sofas, carpets, pillows, clothes in the closets, air handles, ducts, and more. Cleaning all of these could cost more than doing the job right the first time.
Mold removal and remediation is regulated in Florida. There is a specific license called Mold Remediation and you can check the credentials of any contractor under DPBR. However, there is an exception if the total area involved in all mold damage is less than 10 sq. ft. (imagine a square of 3ft X 3ft, or 1m X 1m); in this case, anyone can perform repairs given the lower risk.
In those smaller areas, you can remove the mold with a rug moisten with regular beach. Use glove and a N95 mask if you have allergies. Make sure the source of moisture is addressed, otherwise the mold will return. Before you start the work, it is recommended to Install a MERV-13 rated filter in you’re A/C. That filter will remove all mold spores from the air (and also virus, etc.). Also, keep you’re A/C bellow 75 to keep the air dry. A/C helps to remove the moisture and keep humidity at 55% or lower. Humidity levels above 65% are conducive to mold growth.