Spores Are A Major Concern For Mold Remediators
Mold spores are a major concern for remediators because of their very small size. Mold spores can be anywhere there is air, including under carpet, inside wall cavities, under kitchen cabinets, virtually everywhere. Most are usually not a problem unless mold spores land on a damp spot and begin growing. They digest whatever organic material they grow on to survive. Some molds grow on wood, paper, carpet, foods, and insulation, while other molds feast on everyday dust and dirt that gather in the moist regions of a building.
Generally, molds are hydrophobic. This means that spores do not like water itself. While mold spores need water to colonize, they like wet organic substances, not a puddle of standing water. These airborne mold spores are looking for a proper location to reproduce. The location must provide food, water, and a calm environment, preferably darkness and acceptable temperature. The inside of a building wall cavity is perfect, except that wall cavities are normally dry. Simply add water, allow the area to stay wet for a few weeks, and mold grows.
Mold starts from a spore. Once the mold finds an acceptable environment, growth starts. Mold grows into a plant like structure having a network of tubular branches called hyphae. Hyphae are genetically identical and are considered a single organism or a grouping called mycelium. Once mold becomes visible to the human eye, this grouping is then called a colony. In most residential and commercial water damage, mold remediation becomes a standard after 72 hours.
As colonies of mold continue to grow, they reach a point where it becomes time to continue their life cycle. This is when mold begins to produce and release spores into the environment, known as sporulation. Two types of spores are produced during sporulation: viable spores and non-viable spores. Viable spores are active and can establish new colonies. These types of spores may also be allergenic, and or contain toxins. Non-viable spores are not active and therefore cannot begin new colonies. The term settle spores refers to those spores which are present on surfaces but are not active. This distinction is necessary for defining conditions of mold contamination.
Mycotoxins are released by molds as part of their natural defense system. Humans are also sensitive to mycotoxins produced by mold and are subject to related health effects. Among the most common mold types encountered by mold removal professionals are Stachybotrys, Aspergillus, and Penicillium. Stachybotrys requires a constant water source to thrive, in other words, a very moist environment. Unlike Stachybotrys, both Penicillium and Aspergillus are able to grow in low moisture environments. Mold does not “die” when a structure dries out, it simply goes into a “dormant state”. This is why non-salvageable materials are disposed of during a mold remediation project and structural materials such as studs and joists are dries and decontaminated.