What is mold?

December 5, 2011

Molds (and mildew) are fungi. Fungi are neither plant nor animal but have their own kingdom.  There are over 100,000 species of fungi have been described and it is estimated that there are at least that many waiting to be discovered. The vast majority of fungi feed on dead or decaying organic matter – they are one of the principle agents responsible for the natural recycling of dead plant and animal life.

The most common fungi are currently within our environment and we are constantly exposed to them. For the most part, however, diseases caused by these common fungi are relatively uncommon and are rarely found in individuals with normally functioning immune systems. Over the past few years mold has experienced high profile press coverage. There are many reports concerning lawsuits over air quality in homes and buildings, school classroom environments and home insurers refusing to cover mold damage.

Molds can be found almost anywhere; they can grow on virtually any substance, providing moisture is present. There are molds that can grow on wood, paper and carpet. The key to mold control is moisture control. It is important to dry water-damaged areas and items within 24-48 hours to prevent mold growth. If mold is a problem in your home, clean up the mold and get rid of the excess water or moisture. Fix leaky plumbing or other sources of water. Wash mold off hard surfaces with detergent and water, and dry completely. Absorbent materials (such as ceiling tiles and carpet) that become moldy may have to be replaced.