Everyone knows that mold is harmful to our health. In fact, it’s been drilled into our heads so much that the mere thought of something being “moldy” makes us cringe. Moldy bread? Throw it out! A little bit of mold growing on a block of cheese? Toss it! You can find molds in many places in your home, but when do they become a big problem?
Harmless or not, no one wants mold growing in their home. So what steps can you take to prevent it from happening? Here are some common misconceptions about mold in your home so you can keep your home and family healthy easier:
Myth #1: All Molds Are Black Or Green.
Molds come in many various colors, such as blue, orange, yellow, and pink. It may also be white, grayish-white (like the mold on cheese), brownish-black (like mildew, which grows on shower walls), light green (like powdery mildew), dark green (like algae growing on a pond). Some molds are fuzzy like a fungus and fury like a plant. Many people think all mold is black or green, but this isn’t true.
Myth #2: All Molds Are Hazardous.
False. The truth is, only a few hundred of the estimated 100,000 types of mold are toxic. The rest are relatively harmless to people, although they can damage certain materials by eating away as they grow. In fact, some types of molds have valuable purposes. Bakers and brewers intentionally cultivate certain species to make bread and beer rise.
Other millennia-old technologies also rely on mold. For example, cheese is made using special types that eat away at milk sugars and create lactic acid, which gives the cheese its characteristic flavor and smell.
Myth #3: You Can See Mold Growing.
False. Mold looks like white or gray fuzzy spots on a clean surface, such as your shower tiles. It is usually visible because you see its spores, which are released into the air and cause respiratory problems. But mold itself isn’t really “there” in any sense because it’s not a plant or animal. It’s composed of countless tiny fungal fibers called hyphae that branch out like roots, sometimes growing eight feet long, but are so small that they’re invisible to the naked eye.
Myth #4: All Molds Are Everywhere.
This isn’t true. Molds are only on certain surfaces because they need food to grow. They eat dust, paper, or cloth, for example. There is no mold growing on your bookcase unless you spill something on it and leave it there for a long time. Also, some surfaces are just too dry for mold to grow on them. In addition, there is no mold growing on the dry side of your house unless you have a moisture problem, like water leaks through the roof.
Myth #5: You Can Just Paint Over Mold to Eliminate It.
Mold spores grow into long tubes that penetrate the grout between tiles and other surfaces to anchor themselves in place. Painting over it will not prevent the mold from growing back. Just one spore can start a new colony of mold. If mold is present on your walls or ceiling, you can get rid of it with household solutions, such as bleach or vinegar.
However, if you have asbestos in your house and use bleach, you could release asbestos fibers into the air and cause harm to your family. In some cases, professional mold removal is necessary.
Myth #6: All Molds Are Non-Toxic.
Not all molds are toxic. However, some types produce mycotoxins that can cause health problems, such as allergies and other respiratory issues. Mycotoxins also threaten pets and should be removed quickly when they’re discovered. Toxic black mold (Stachybotrys chartarum) is rare, but it has been found in homes that don’t have proper ventilation.
Remember that the number one cause of mold in your home is water. You may hear it all the time, but closed-up houses, where no air can get in or out, and wet areas (floods and leaks) are the ideal breeding ground for mold spores. That’s why water damage clean-up is a priority after a major storm or a flood.
Even if you can’t see it growing, water damage behind your walls and under the flooring has the potential to cause unseen mold problems throughout your home. In fact, as many as 25 percent of all homes have “hidden” water damage that people don’t even know about. According to statistics, the average home contains enough mold and bacteria to make people sick.
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