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The purpose of a mold clearance inspection is to assure that the mold cleanup has been done correctly and effectively in the work area and to confirm that the cleanup did not accidentally distribute high levels of moldy dust and debris into other building areas or into its mechanical systems such as heating or air conditioning systems. To avoid conflicts of interest, mold clearance testing should never be performed by the mold remediation contractor.
The news media and some contractors often refer to “black mold” or “toxic black mold.” It is usually associated with Stachybotrys chartarum, a type of greenish‐black mold commonly associated with heavy water damage. Not all molds that appear to be black are Stachybotrys. The known health effects from exposure to Stachybotrys are similar to those caused by other common molds, and again in high exposure situations (as in agriculture), are known to be associated with severe health effects in some people. Such exposures seldom, if ever, occur in buildings except during remediation activities by people not taking appropriate precautions.
Molds live in the soil, on plants, and on dead or decaying matter. Outdoors, molds play a key role in the breakdown of leaves, wood, and other plant debris. Molds belong to the kingdom of Fungi, and unlike plants, they lack chlorophyll and must survive by digesting plant materials, using plant and other organic materials for food. Without molds, our environment would be overwhelmed with large amounts of dead plant matter.
Molds produce tiny spores to reproduce, just as some plants produce seeds. These mold spores can be found in both indoor and outdoor air, and settled on indoor and outdoor surfaces. When mold spores land on a damp spot, they may begin growing with in 24HRS and digesting whatever they are growing on in order to survive. Since molds gradually destroy the things they grow on, you can prevent further damage to building materials and furnishings by having a mold inspection performed and detecting the problem early.
Moisture control is the key to mold control. Molds need both food and water to survive, since molds can digest most things, water is the factor that limits mold growth. Molds will often grow in damp or wet areas indoors. Common sites for indoor mold growth include bathroom tile, basement walls, areas around windows where moisture condenses, and near leaky water fountains or sinks. Common sources or causes of water or moisture problems include roof leaks, deferred maintenance, condensation associated with high humidity or cold spots in the building, localized flooding due to plumbing failures or heavy rains, slow leaks in plumbing fixtures, and malfunction or poor design of humidification systems.
Uncontrolled humidity can also be a source of moisture leading to mold growth, particularly in hot, humid climates. Microbial Volatile Organic Compounds (mVOCs). Some compounds produced by molds are volatile and are released directly into the air. These are known as microbial volatile organic compounds (mVOCs). Because these compounds often have strong and/or unpleasant odors, they can be the source of odors associated with molds. Exposure to mVOCs from molds has been linked to symptoms such as headaches, nasal irritation, dizziness, fatigue, and nausea.
All molds have the potential to cause health effects. Molds produce allergens, irritants, and in some cases, toxins that may cause reactions in humans. The types and severity of symptoms depend, in part, on the types of mold present, the extent of an individual's exposure, the ages of the individuals, and their existing sensitivities or allergies. Health problems, such as headaches, breathing difficulties, skin irritation, allergic reactions, and aggravation of asthma symptoms, all of these symptoms could potentially be associated with mold exposure.