of the most common health risks found in homes is exposure to mold
and mildew. The effects of mold and mildew on human health are not
fully known; however, like most everything, high concentration levels
of any substance could potentially cause health risks. Mold and
mildew cannot develop and grow without moisture. Moisture is also
the easiest and most cost-effective component to control.
In addition to moisture, mold spores and nutrients must be available
for mold to develop. Found everywhere, mold spores are common microscopic
particles that easily become airborne and spread; they cannot be
eliminated from most spaces without expensive cleanroom equipment.
Nutrients provide food and are present in almost all building materials,
as well as interior furnishings and even dust.
Today’s tighter fabrication and fast-track scheduling of
home construction, which can trap more moisture internally than
ever before, could potentially lead to increased consumer complaints
regarding moisture damage. This will continue to elevate the moisture
content, mold and mildew issue as the general public becomes aware
of both the health and financial risks associated with excessive
moisture in the structure of their homes.
In some cases, indoor mold growth may not be obvious. It is possible
that mold may be growing on hidden surfaces, such as the back side
of dry wall, wallpaper, or paneling, the top of ceiling tiles, the
underside of carpets and pads, etc. Some building materials, such
as dry wall with vinyl wallpaper over it or wood paneling, may act
as vapor barriers trapping moisture underneath their surfaces and
thereby providing a moist environment where mold can grow. You may
suspect hidden mold if a building smells moldy, but you cannot see
the source, or if you know there has been water damage and building
occupants are reporting health problems.
Here is what the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) has
to say about mold:
It's as old as the Earth and it's everywhere-
inside homes and out. And under the right set of conditions, it
can actually start to grow inside your house. Even though the
issue of household mold is not new, you may have heard something
about it recently in the media. The NAHB has prepared consumer
information to help you understand what mold is, how it can grow
in your home, the routine maintenance procedures you can follow
to prevent mold problems, and methods of removing mold already
in your home.
- Information from the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB).
- Excellent site from the Western Wood Products Association, which
is based in Portland, OR. They have a commissioned study by
a professor from Oregon State and an expert with a PhD from the
University of Washington which is available online.
http://www.aiha.org/news-pubs/newsroom/Documents/Facts about Mold.pdf
- The American Industrial Hygiene Association has a good resource
- General informatoin regarding mold.