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McKee Environmental Health, Inc.
McKee Environmental Health, Inc.
MOLD IN THE HOME
Some Facts About Mold In The Home
What Is Mold?
Molds are fungi. Fungi are a natural part of the environment and are present throughout the world at relatively low ambient levels. The term fungi refers to all members of the taxonomic kingdom, Fungi. The fungi are a group of nonmotile, eukaryotic organisms. Eukaryotes are organisms that have a defined cell wall, lack chlorophyll, and reproduce by means of spores. Yeast, mold, rusts and mushrooms are all examples of fungi. Fungal spores can be produced sexually or asexually, germinating when the conditions for growth are right. There are an estimated 100,000 described species of fungi and at least as many species still to be discovered.
Almost all of the fungi are aerobes, meaning they require oxygen to live. Besides oxygen, some organic food source, and a sufficient level of moisture are all that is needed. Many porous building materials such as wallboard, insulation and ceiling tiles are either constructed of, or contain organic materials. When these materials become moist from flooding or condensation, or simply due to high levels of humidity, existing fungi spores embedded in or on the surface of these materials initiate the reproductive stage of their life cycle. As long as all three of these requirements are met, microbial growth will usually continue unabated. Moisture problems in buildings can increase the level of airborne fungi by several orders of magnitude. While it is true that fungal spores in wall cavities are somewhat contained, spores can be released in the building air through openings in walls such as electrical outlets. Ventilation or expansion and contraction of walls due to changes in temperature also contribute to the release and movement of fungal spores into the building air.
Breathing in elevated levels of airborne fungi can initiate an allergenic or toxic response and occasionally infection in an otherwise healthy individual. Individuals that have a weakened immune system and live in an indoor environment with high levels of fungi are of particular concern. The health effects associated with exposure to elevated levels of fungi can be divided into four general categories: irritation, allergy, infection and toxicosis. Approximately one hundred species of fungi are known to cause infection in humans. Infections are generally limited to individuals with impaired immunological defenses. Most fungi produce toxic metabolites during digestion called mycotoxins. These toxins are believed to be present in the largest quantities of the spores, which need not be viable to contain them. The most widely recognized genera of fungal spores that produce mycotoxins are Aspergillus, Penicillium, Fusarium and Stachybotrys. Of the four general categories of heath effects, allergy is the most common symptom associated with exposure to elevated levels of fungi. Fungi produce volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that can irritate mucous membranes and are associated with other symptoms.
If you don't know whether your home contains molds you should contact us, or a mold and indoor air quality expert in your area. Mckee Environmental is located in the state of Texas. We can be reached in the following ways: