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Places Mold Can Be in Your Home and You Not Even Know It

Updated: Apr 27, 2022

Let's start with - What is mold?

Mold is an organism that feeds on the matter. Mold can be present outdoors or indoors. Mold is a fungus, one of the thousands. In fact, the exact number of fungal species remains unknown. Warm, damp, and humid climates are ideal conditions that promote mold growth. However, mold can continue to spread its spores in harsh climates like dry desert-like areas.

Mold is different from plants and animals. They are classified as fungi and similar to mushrooms, mildew, and yeast. The digestive and reproductive process make any Fungi a unique species. For example, enzymes are used to break down food and spores, reproductive cells, reproduce the species. Mold is essential in the decay of leaves, wood, and other plants. Common mold occurrences include the “blue” in bleu cheese and penicillin. In addition, is one of the most common irritants to humans and animals.

What is ‘black’ mold?

Black mold is identified by its greenish-black color. It is often detected on high-cellulose building materials with low nitrogen content. Materials include paper, dust, fiberboard, and lint. In areas where there is excessive moisture, high humidity, water leaks, or flooding black mold may begin to grow as consistent moisture is necessary for reproduction. When detecting mold, there is no reason to understand the type of mold growth. Instead, treat and remove all mold the same to minimize health risks.

Black mold is often referred to as “toxic mold.” There are molds that produce toxins; but, the mold itself is not toxic.

Toxins produced by molds are hazardous and should have the same precautions as common household molds.

Mold is everywhere; it is in the air we breathe. Research reports that toxins produced by molds detected in homes may cause rare health diagnoses, pulmonary hemorrhage or amnesia are some examples. These instances are uncommon and although rarely reported, research has yet to prove an exact causal link between these health conditions and toxigenic mold.

What is ERMI?

ERMI stands for the Environmental Relative Moldiness Index. It was established by the U.S Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Research and Development, as an investigational tool to detect mold growth in homes. The approach utilizes a statistical formula (MSQPCR) to give a single index number. That number is them compared to other homes using the same tool within the database. EMLab P&K was one of the early adopters of the ERMI and continues to provide this service to identify mold problems in buildings.

Advantages of ERMI Mold Testing:

  • ERMI can detect and identify molds that cause health risks.

  • ERMI can provide insight on mold conditions whether new or old occurrences.

  • Length of exposure reports can be prepared for medical practitioners.

Disadvantages of ERMI Mold Testing:

  • ERMI only identifies mold, it does not total the amount of growth within the home

  • ERMI requires dust samples be taken from old original carpet to produce historical information

  • ERMI results and health conditions yet to have a correlation

  • ERMI fails to identify the source of the mold making it difficult to resolve

  • ERMI scores mold on a scale of -10 to 20. A higher number indicates mold is growing inside the house. The ranking is estimated not exact. The score is relative to the tests performed in a specific geographic region.

  • ERMI application is limited. The EPA states the ERMI is an evolving tool. It remains in the testing phase and lacks acceptance for medical diagnostic purpose.

How does mold affect human beings?

Those in contact with mold may experience a stuffy nose, wheezing, coughing, eye and skin irritation. Symptoms can be more severe for those with mold allergies or asthma. Large exposure to mold are susceptible to those interacting with mold for occupational purposes or farmers may suffer from shortness of breath or fever.

Cancer patients, transplant recipients, and those on immune system weakening prescriptions are at a greater of mold infections. Some may also be diagnosed with asthma if exposed to mold or wet conditions. Learn more about mold. Efforts to improve poor housing conditions aim to prevent such symptoms and health risks.

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