According to experts in the field of indoor air quality and microbial services, mold and fungi are very simple organisms that reproduce by spores, which are extremely durable. They secrete digestive enzymes that break down the surface on which they live, which makes it easier to absorb nutrition. Some can cause disease while others are opportunistic, which can cause disease in people that that may be immuno-compromised. Not all molds are harmful, yet some are very toxic.
Everyone is affected to varying degrees by mold exposure, but there is no established dose-response relationship, nor is there an established safe level of exposure. Infants and people with suppressed immune systems may be particularly vulnerable. Determining the source of allergic reactions is a challenge, but opportunistic infections can occur and compromise the quality of life – and in some cases can even cause death.
Mold in homes has become an issue in the housing industry because some people have become ill and can’t live in their homes. There also have been problems reported in the office environment, and even some schools have had problems. As a result, buyers and sellers are concerned, as well as lessors and tenants.
Once mold colonies become established, your potential problems are just beginning. Mold becomes a problem when it grows and spores become airborne. It also can be a problem when contaminated materials are removed or disposed of improperly, spreading spores that may start new colonies.
In order to grow, mold needs organic materials on which to feed, as well favorable environmental factors including temperature, humidity, moisture, and good atmosphere. Although mold can grow almost anywhere, different organisms have different preferences. Moisture is the single most important environmental factor for mold growth.
Homebuyers need to be aware that home inspections do not necessarily include environmental assessment. One problem is a lack of environmental standards, but disclosure laws are being encouraged around the country, such as California’s Toxic Mold Act. Home sellers are encouraged to disclose any known problems to avoid future litigation, and to allow for testing during the transaction process.
Many experts have said that mold can be found to one extent or another in every home, and that daily maintenance, good air circulation, ventilation, and good lighting will help to keep mold in check in locations such as bathrooms.
In New England, the transition between harsh winter and welcomed spring weather brings a HUGE threat to homeowners who have basements. According to Greg Hanner, Garden Realty, “the issue is that we’ve got so much snow on the ground, the natural swales (low spots in our yards) where rain water would flow around and away from our homes or off driveways are now blocked with snow. Taking advantage of the cold weather now to clear paths for the water to run through the snow pack downhill and away from your home is a top priority if you want to avoid water damage to your home in the form of a flooded basement.”
Check to confirm the paths that rain waters normally flow are clear (this includes off sides of driveways, footing and gutter drain outlets, etc.). If you find your basement flooded, then your priority will be to get the water out as fast as possible and dry out the basement quickly in order to avoid mold and mildew growing. Using an ECAR Affiliate mold professional such as ServPro of Norwich and Windham Counties and other flood/fire damage experts is imperative if the damage becomes overwhelming.
Visit the ECAR web site at http://www.easternctrealtors.com.
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