Typically, no matter where you live, there is going to be some mold and mildew in your home. Homes are built to breathe and are not water-tight, so there will always be some amount of dampness. When you have a water leak, however, there is always the possibility that the dampness can become fertile ground for dangerous mold to flourish. Anytime a homeowner experiences a water leak in or under their home; proper drying methods should be used to ensure that dangerous mold spores will not accumulate.
How Mold Develops
In order to grow, mold requires food, water, oxygen, and a favorable temperature. The food (nutrients) comes from dead organic materials such as paper, fabric, or wood. Mold requires moisture (like from a leaky pipe) but can also obtain moisture from the air when the humidity is above 70 per cent. Although a favorable temperature of a normal home is up to about 85 degrees, mold can grow in temperatures from 40 degrees to over 100 degrees.
How Do the Spores Get in the Home?
Since molds are decomposers of materials such as wood, paper, plants, and animals, they are found wherever there is dead or decaying matter like piles of leaves, manure, and compost. The spores can enter buildings in the air, on people, on animals, and on objects that are brought into your home. These spores are like seeds just waiting for a combination of moisture, food, air, and water to thrive.
Are All Molds Harmful?
There are more than a 100,000 types of mold, but fortunately, only a few are harmful to humans. Some can cause infections in people that have a compromised immune system, or are susceptible to allergies and asthma, but most healthy people tolerate moderate levels of exposure to mold. There are, however, several types of molds that produce mycotoxins, which can produce illnesses in people and animals, but studies have shown that people respond differently depending on their health.
Harmful Effects of Molds
The types of health effects and their severity depend on the individual that has been exposed. People have allergies, asthma, or a compromised immune system are more likely to exhibit symptoms than healthy people. Long-term exposure is certainly unhealthy to anyone, and some groups will exhibit severe symptoms sooner than others. These symptoms may include some or all of the following:
- Nasal and sinus congestion
- A sore throat and persistent cough
- Tightness in the chest
- Difficulty breathing
- Upper respiratory infection
- Irritation of the skin and eyes
Symptoms that are more severe and could result from continuous exposure to indoor mycotoxigenic molds include:
- Pulmonary injury/hemosiderosis (bleeding)
- Hepatic, endocrine and/or renal toxicities
- Hypersensitivity pneumonitis/pulmonary fibrosis
Mold is everywhere, but that does not mean it’s safe to ignore it. Typically, after discovering a leaking pipe in your home, it makes very good sense to contact a mold remediation company to get an inspection. If you smell a musty odor after a leaking pipe has been discovered, or any other time for that matter, the chances are very good that mold is growing in your home.