An Introduction To Toxic Mold

Toxic molds have become the prime cause of concern among households. Most toxic molds found in homes belong to the fungal strain Stachybotrys chartarum, which is a slimy greenish-black fungus with a faint mildew-like odor. Like other mold strains, toxic molds also thrive in damp conditions and reproduce asexually by formation of spores. The common substrata on which toxic molds prefer to grow are cellulose-containing matter such as wood, paper, dry walls, fiberboard, hay, straw and wicker.

The problem with toxic molds creeps in when they tend to release harmful substances (secondary metabolites) in the air, called mycotoxins. It is these mycotoxins that cause toxic air pollution and, when inhaled, can trigger asthma attacks and allergies. Most chronic patients of toxic molds complain of symptoms which are akin to flu. Other disorders produced by inhalation include chronic bronchitis, heart seizures, multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, fibromyalgia and even cancer. In children it may cause deficiencies in mental capacities, usually leading to nonperformance in schools.

Though the dangers of toxic molds are rampant, most of the time they are not identified as the culprits at all. Molds are almost odor-free – their peculiar odor is only perceivable in humid conditions. But they release their spores in the air and their mycotoxins all the time, which are freely inhaled along with the dust. Even dust deposits on furniture contain toxic mold spores in large amounts.

There are various strategies to combat the growth of toxic mold in buildings. The first and foremost is to disallow any water from accumulating. This could be through leaky pipes or improperly sealed doors. Since toxic mold does not grow on tile and cement, it is ideal to use ceramic tiles in bathrooms and kitchens. Toxic mold can be killed by chlorine treatments using bleach. However, this treatment is not complete, as chlorine fails to kill the mycelium threads which thrive in the water.

Awareness of the dangers of toxic molds is fast spreading throughout the world. Molds find dampness conducive to their growth; hence, the recent flood and hurricane problems have caused a spurt in their propagation. Almost all homes in the US and Canada are suffering some kind of mold growth or the other. Attempts to treat mold growth in water-clogged structures have proved to be in vain. Even burning cannot be a solution. In fact, toxic mold is known to undergo multiple spore formation in unfavorable conditions. Hence, the mold grows faster under adverse conditions.

Mold remediation companies specialize in mold treatment in homes. Air testing is done in several new buildings to check for mold strains. A single air testing with treatment costs around $300 to $500.

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