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Even the most spotless of homes can have mold. In fact, mold is everywhere! It occurs naturally both indoors and outdoors and actually plays a vital role in the environment. For example, mold, which is a type of fungus, breaks down dead leaves and other organic material.

As a member of the fungus family, mold doesn’t fit into either animal or plant categories. Much like bacteria, mold digests organic material. Like plants, mold reproduces by releasing “seeds” which are carried off through the air. In this case, the “seeds” are called spores. Mold spores are microscopic and can be carried quite far. It doesn’t take much air flow to transport microscopic spores.

These spores are everywhere, both inside and out. That doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll have a mold monster on your hands. Spores require moisture in order to grow. However, if your house provides the perfect environment for these spores to grow, you can bet your money that you’ll soon have an issue. What’s the perfect environment? A moist one. Bathrooms, kitchens, basements, and areas where leakage has occurred are nice and moist.

So what’s wrong with a little bit of mold growth? A little bit of mold isn’t a major problem so long as you take care of it. Mold that’s allowed to continue growing poses several concerns including damage to structures and health effects.

Remember how mold breaks down organic material? It digests these materials. Mold in your home actually digests whatever it lands on! This can damage your furniture, wallpaper, carpets, and drywall. Mold can also rot wood. Left to grow out of control, mold can leave unsightly stains and damage the structure of your home.

Many people experience unpleasant health effects when exposed to mold ranging from mild allergies and asthma attacks to irritated eyes, throats, noses, skin, and lungs. In addition, mold exposure can cause hypersensitivity pneumonitis, headaches, breathing difficulties, and other infections. People with asthma, allergies, and suppressed immune systems can also suffer other effects including contracting other opportunistic infections. Other concerns involve the potentially toxic substances that some molds produce. If your home is damp and has mold, it also could harbor other contaminates that thrive in moist environments such as rodents, bacteria, roaches, and dust mites. Even the building or furnishing may contribute toxic substances when wet.

Many different types of mold exist with well over one hundred species. Common mold species include Aspergillus, Stachybotrys, Cladosporium, Fusarium, and Penicillium. All molds secrete enzymes as part of their digestive systems. These enzymes break down the compounds for consumption by the mold. Byproducts of digestion are often released. Mytotoxins are metabolic byproducts produced by certain molds under certain conditions. These byproducts are toxic and cause all kinds of ill effects including diarrhea, headaches, sore throats, fatigue, and dermatitis. Some may even be carcinogenic.

As you can see, mold loves a moist environment (and it doesn’t take much water for mold to thrive) and can cause serious health and structural problems. If your home has mold, it’s critical to remove it. Obviously, it’s best to catch the problem early but it’s entirely possible to clean even the nastiest mold infestations.

Because inhaling mold is detrimental to your health, cleaning it up requires taking proper precautions and using the right techniques for removal. You can’t simply spray bleach on mold and be done with it. All that accomplishes is bleaching; the mold isn’t necessarily killed. Plus, dead mold still causes allergic reactions and other unpleasant side effects.

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