"The most common misconception about mold is that it only grows on organic materials such as wood and food," said Nemshick. "Mold is actually a fungus that reproduces from seed-like spores, and can grow year-round, in any type of climate and on any surface."
Many people believe that only messy and dirty properties are susceptible to mold problems. While mold can develop more easily in these conditions, the fungus does not discriminate and can grow on virtually any surface that is exposed to air and water. Most property owners also assume that if there are no visible signs of mold, then it most likely does not exist. What they may not know is that mold very often grows in dark, hidden places such as behind wallpaper and paint, in attics, basements, air ducts, and wall cavities.
Another common misconception is that all molds are toxic. On the contrary, only certain types of molds produce toxic byproducts. The most common type of toxic mold is called Stachybotrys chartarum. It is a greenish-black mold that grows on surfaces comprised of cellulose such as drywall. It has been found that the existence of these toxic byproducts-also known as mycotoxins-can lead to severe illnesses in the individuals exposed to them.
Nemshick, a certified mold remediation expert, has outlined helpful tips for property owners to prevent mold. Some of his ideas include:
- Use a ventilation fan in areas that contain showers, baths or hot tubs.
- Clean bathroom and basement walls regularly with a bleach solution.
- Frequently check faucets and pipes for water leaks.
- Dry any spills or areas with water damage within 48 hours.
- Ensure proper roof drainage and clean gutters often to promote ground water drainage away from the property.
- Attics and crawl spaces should be properly insulated and ventilated.