Posts tagged ‘mold myths’
Unfortunately, there are a lot of “Scare Tactics” used within the microbial investigation and mold remediation industry. As with any industry, there are always going to be people out there who try and scare people into using their services. They may do so by embellishing facts, giving misinformation or by simply telling you things that are completely untrue. I want to give you, the consumer, a couple tips for what to watch out for if you are ever in a situation of having to enlist services within the microbial and mold remediation industry.
1) Pay close attention to each company’s website. Most companies have a website nowadays, and that can give you a good insight as to what type of company you will end up dealing with. Some companies websites are littered with misinformation and pictures geared towards scaring you into using their services. I have seen websites with embellished pictures of microscopic mold spores, but in reality just about anything looks scary when you magnify it 500 times. Also, if anywhere on their website you see the terms “Black Mold” or “Toxic Mold”, consider that a big red flag. Those terms were created by the media, and it wasn’t for their feel-good story of the evening if you know what I mean. It was to create interest as a result of fear. After all, who isn’t afraid of the term “toxic”? You don’t hear many stories that start with toxic and end with a smile. You may also want to avoid companies that over emphasize the potential health effects of mold on people. Although it is good to be informed of potential signs of mold exposure and basic information regarding health, if a company’s main content of their website is to make you believe that you are definitely going to get sick after being around mold, it is probably another thing to be cautious of. And lastly, if somehow you have come across a company that does not even have a website, approach them with caution. If a company is not willing to provide basic information about them including their contact info, certification and affiliation information and a basic company profile it may be for good reason. They may be attempting to fly under the radar, or be quite new to the industry and have not yet put any effort into a website. I don’t know about you, but I don’t think I would trust a mold problem to the new guys on the block.
2) Be wary of remediation companies that do their own testing. Within our industry it is a direct conflict of interest for a remediation company to perform their own testing. A large majority of the public has never dealt with a mold problem, or had to interpret a laboratory analysis of microbial samples. Therefore, it could be somewhat easy for a remediation company to embellish sample results. It is not uncommon to hear about a remediation company coming into a home and pulling some microbial samples, and upon receiving the results inform the client that the home is completely contaminated and they must vacate immediately or pay for expensive remediation. I had a client once tell me that a remediation company told her that she was being a bad mother because she was allowing her family to live in a mold infested home. And that was based on a visual inspection alone. Upon further investigation by an independent third party microbial investigator it was revealed that yes, they had a minimal mold problem but it was far less intense than the remediation company would have had her believe. You have to remember that a remediation company makes money off of cleaning up mold. Therefore, the more they have to clean or the larger the project, the more potential money they will make. So avoid being scared into expensive work that may not be needed and have an independent party look at the situation.
3) If you are ever in the middle of a microbial investigation and the inspector or contractor attempts to tell you what type of mold is present just by looking at it, be very cautious. I have heard multiple stories about contractors or inspectors coming in to look at a mold problem and attempting to identify what type of molds are present just by looking at it. Unfortunately, this is just not possible. There are literally tens of thousands of types of molds, many of them grow to be similar colors and textures and may display consistent growth patterns. The reality of it is, the only way to determine what type of mold is present is to analyze the growth under a high powered microscope, and this should only be done by a mycologist or technician within a laboratory setting. We hear about these tactics not only being used to scare people into remediation work that is not necessary, but also to deter people that really have a problem from realizing it. For example, it is not uncommon for people in rental situations to be informed by maintenance personal that whatever microbial growth they have in their apartment or home is not the “bad kind”, or not toxic. I guess we would call this scenario an “Anti-Scare Tactic”. But again, the only way to know is to have microbial samples collected and properly analyzed. So unless the person you are dealing with just so happens to have microscopes for eyes, which would actually be pretty cool, watch out for this one.
If you really believe that you may have a mold problem, it is important to know that whomever you turn to for advice has your best interest in mind. The safest way to ensure this is to make sure that you always deal with an independent third party that has nothing to gain from finding a problem. You should also do all you can to research any companies that you may be considering using. Make sure they are a legitimate company, they are properly certified and they should have a positive track record through organizations such as the Better Business Bureau. You may be surprised what you find after doing a little investigation, for better or for worse.
There are many misconceptions regarding mold. Here are a few more common mold myths.
Myth # 4: Mold growth cannot be controlled in bathrooms
One of the most common areas to find mold is in bathrooms. The following are a few tips to prevent or significantly reduce mold growth in bathrooms:
- The first and most important preventative measure is to control moisture conditions. Showering and bathing produces high levels of moisture and if not properly vented to the exterior of the home through adequate mechanical ventilation, mold growth will likely occur. Bath fans should be quiet in operation to encourage regular use, properly sized for the dimensions of the room and should be operated for approximately 30 minutes after showering.
- Another preventative measure is to use a small squeegee or towel to remove the water from the enclosure walls and shower door after showering.
- Maintain grout and caulking conditions to prevent moisture intrusion, water damage, and potential microbial growth.
- Consider eliminating carpeting and wallpaper. Mold is commonly found behind wallpaper and under carpeting in bathrooms.
- Inspect areas below sinks and around toilets regularly for leaks. Do not put off repairing plumbing leaks or mold growth could result.
Myth # 5: If I don’t see mold- then there can’t be a problem
Mold can exist in non-accessible areas of the home such as behind or under cabinets, below flooring, behind base trim, inside wall cavities, behind wallpaper and inside ceiling plenums. Use your nose… If you notice a musty or mold-like odor, it is possible that you have a mold problem. Microbial testing of the ambient air and inner wall cavity testing by a Certified Microbial Investigator is often needed to detect hidden mold conditions.
Myth # 6: If I have Mold- It’s my fault
The truth of the matter is that occupants can and do sometimes contribute to mold growth. For example, mold growth can occur if the indoor humidity levels become excessive. Excessive humidity often occurs due to the lack of proper ventilation when showering, cooking and doing laundry. Aside from that, if the indoor relative humidity (moisture in the air) is maintained between 30%-50% and you still have a mold problem, then the blame can often be placed somewhere else. Many times, a mold investigation may determine that the cause of the mold problem is actually due to conditions such as, hidden water intrusion, plumbing leaks, roof leaks, and inadequate or nonexistent ventilation conditions. A specially trained mold investigator can often times detect those conditions that most commonly cause mold growth. Be proactive and enlist the services of a professional if you suspect a mold problem.
There is an abundant amount of information available at our fingertips regarding mold. Much of it is relevant, accurate and useful information. The problem is that even the experts differ in opinion on some topics. As a Certified Mold Inspector, I see many different situations and unusual conditions in homes, apartments and businesses. I also hear comments and read information that sometimes makes me scratch my head. So, I thought I’d discuss a couple of my favorite mold myths.
Myth # 1: Only Black Mold is bad.
Mold can present itself in many different colors, and while it is true that the most concerning types of Mold, such as Stachybotrys, are commonly black in color, many types of mold that do not have a black appearance can cause adverse health effects for some individuals. Most mold professionals agree that indoor mold growth of any color is a potential health risk and should not be present inside homes and businesses. In addition, mold growth, of any color, inside a home or business is a sign of a water intrusion problem which can comprimise building materials, both structurally and cosmetically, and can be expensive to remedy.
Myth # 2: Bleach is an effective treatment for Mold
Bleach is comprised mostly of water and adding additional water to a mold problem is kind of like throwing gasoline on a fire. It appears to get rid of the mold initially, but all too frequently, the mold returns in a short period of time and the problem becomes worse than before the initial bleach treatment. The other shortcoming of bleach is that it will not reach or eliminate mold that is hiding in inaccessible areas. Such as inside wall cavities, under flooring, behind wallpaper, or mold that is absorbed into porous building materials, such as drywall. In most cases, it is best to leave the removal and cleaning of a mold problem to a professional mold remediation company.
Myth #3: You can just paint over Mold to seal it and prevent re-growth
Simply painting over mold affected building materials does not provide a long-term fix to a mold problem. We are often told by our clients that someone treated the mold with bleach and then sealed (painted) the area. This is most often times just a band-aid unless the initial cause of the mold growth is addressed and corrected. The underlying cause of most mold problems is excessive moisture and wet building materials, commonly due to water intrusion, leaks or excessive humidity. If the excessive moisture problem is not corrected, repaired or eliminated, then mold will most likely return.
More mold myths debunked to come at a later date. Thanks for reading.