Mold and Air Quality Testing

What is mold?

Molds are fungi. Molds grow throughout the natural and built environment. Tiny particles of mold are present in indoor and outdoor air. In nature, molds help break down dead materials and can be found growing on soil, foods, plant matter, and other items. Molds produce microscopic cells called “spores” which are very tiny and spread easily through the air. Live spores act like seeds, forming new mold growths (colonies) when they find the right conditions.

Mold only needs a few simple things to grow and multiply:

  • Moisture

  • Nutrients

  • Suitable place to grow

 

Of these, controlling excess moisture is the key to preventing and stopping indoor mold growth.

Mold should not be permitted to grow and multiply indoors. When this happens, health problems can occur and building materials, goods and furnishings may be damaged.

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Why Test For Mold?

The primary reason to test for mold is that under certain conditions, indoor mold has the potential to damage property and cause health problems in humans and animals. 

We do not recommend testing for mold yourself. Instead, you should simply assume there is a problem whenever you see mold or smell mold odors. Sometimes, mold growth is hidden and difficult to locate. In such cases, a combination of air (outdoor and indoor air samples) and bulk (material) samples may help determine the extent of contamination and where cleaning is needed. 

Health Effects

Can mold make me and my family sick?

 

Mold can affect the health of people who are exposed to it. People are mainly exposed to mold by breathing spores or other tiny fragments. People can also be exposed through skin contact with mold contaminants (for example, by touching moldy surfaces) and by swallowing them.

The type and severity of health effects that mold may produce are usually difficult to predict. The risks can vary greatly from one location to another, over time, and from person to person.

What symptoms might I see?

The most common health problems caused by indoor mold are allergy symptoms. Although other and more serious problems can occur, people exposed to mold commonly report problems such as:

  • Nasal and sinus congestion

  • Cough

  • Wheeze/breathing difficulties

  • Sore throat

  • Skin and eye irritation

  • Upper respiratory infections (including sinus)

EPA Guide to Mold and Moisture in Your Home.