The Mold Monster
The Mold Monster
People are always super concerned about mold. And mold has been pointed to for the cause of everything from nose and throat pain, to learning disabilities and infant lung bleeding, and has resulted in such extreme measures as burning down houses to get rid of infestations. But is mold the monster it has been made out to be?
George Bean, a biologist in the Department of Cell Biology and Molecular Genetics at the University of Maryland who has been studying mold for decades, says that although it is known that some people may be highly sensitive to mold and that mold can aggravate allergies, “the whole mold issue has been blown out of proportion.”
Fact is, mold has been around as long as recorded history. “And mold spores can be found in almost any static air test — even out on the highway,” said Dick Rennick, chief executive officer of American Leak Detection in Palm Springs, Calif. “What has changed are building methods and materials. Today, homes are built tighter,” Rennick said, adding that mold seems to thrive on modern building materials such as drywall. Controlling moisture is the key to controlling mold. Mold spores need a relative humidity of 70 percent or more to germinate and mold needs a food source, which can be anything from the paper on drywall to cellulose (wood fiber).
In Bean’s opinion, the controversy has led to scare tactics and some scams when it comes to mold detection and treatment. Since there are no state or federal regulatory agencies overseeing the business of mold testing, it’s strictly a case of buyer beware. “Mold spores are everywhere, so if you have a mold detection company come out to your house, they will certainly be able to find evidence of mold,” he said. Stachybotrys, the so-called black mold, is the “bad boy” of molds. Even though scientists have known about stachybotrys for decades, it’s still unclear what level of exposure triggers serious health problems in humans, accordin g to Bean. A recent report from Johns Hopkins University, says much the same and is hardly alarmist.
Still, it’s an unwanted invader in your home. Bean prefers cleaning away the mold with a solution of soap and water and then spraying the affected area with Sporocidin, an anti-bacterial agent that can be purchased over-the-counter. (It can be found in Nashville at The Cleaner’s Depot. It’s about $30 a gallon and should be used full strength).
Sporocidin not only kills mold but also has a residual effect that will prevent the mold from returning, according to Bean. Some mold experts advise using paint that contains mildicide to prevent mold, but, Bean says, there’s no scientific evidence that these paints are a guarantee against mold over time.