The purpose of a Mold Inspection is to identify and provide a full report on existing conditions that promote mold growth, and determine the concentration of ambient mold spores by air testing.
Mold requires three things to grow: 1) the right temperature, 2) nutrients to consume, and 3) moisture. Temperature and nutrients are already optimum for mold in most homes, so controlling mold growth is all about controlling moisture.
Elevated levels of mold spores are caused by flooding, leakage issues or excessive humidity resulting in colonization and growth of mold, often inside of walls where it goes undetected. Studies show that almost 50% of Canadian homes have chronic humidity issues.
If you can't see or smell mold, does it matter? Yes. Concealed mold will have the same health effects as if it were growing visibly on the walls inside the living space because walls are not airtight and will not block mold spores, which are far smaller than the eye can see.
One reason high humidity in a house is an issue is because it can lead to condensation, which can lead to moisture damage and mold growth. Condensation occurs at 100% relative humidity, which is when the air cannot hold any more moisture based on its temperature and it is forced to release moisture onto a surface. One common misconception is that mold needs condensation in order to grow. In reality, mold can grow and colonize with as little as 60% relative humidity.
There are thousands of species of mold, but they all fall under one of two categories - Toxic and Non-Toxic mold.
In high concentrations, Non-Toxic mold spores are known to cause allergies and respiratory problems like asthma. Allergies and asthma can develop at any time in your life, not just as a child, and studies show that up to 30% of allergenic asthma cases are induced by exposure to mold spores.
That's Non-Toxic mold. Studies show that exposure to high levels Toxic mold spores can lead to, not only allergies and asthma, but neurological problems, cancer, invasive diseases, and sometimes death. This is supported by the fact that a relatively common type of toxic mold called Fusarium actually produces a toxin that was found to be effective for biological warfare, and was weaponized for that use by the Soviet Union prior to 1972, when those weapons were internationally banned from use in combat.
Health effects from toxic and non-toxic mold depend on three things:
1) The dose - how many spores are in the air you're breathing,
2) The duration of exposure to that dose, which is likely to be quite high because on average we spend over 90% of our time indoors; and
3) (The most important factor) the condition of the individual being exposed.
Severe health effects from mold do happen, but are quite rare in healthy adults. Typically they are experienced by:
- People who already have an underlying illness like asthma or TB, or
- Individuals who have a weakened immune system - including
- children and seniors,
- those who have an auto-immune disease like HIV,
- or those taking immunosuppressive drugs for treating arthritis for example.