Mold is a silent problem. But anyway, almost 25% of all asthma cases in the United States are caused by mold exposure or dampness. Mildew and Mold exist everywhere in the environment. In buildings, it is usually located in bathrooms, kitchens, basements, attics, crawl spaces, and garages.
Very small mold spores invisible to the human eye are everywhere in the air. Use air purifier for mold to get rid of them and breath in the fresh and clean air. Anyway, don’t forget that your main task is to destroy the source.
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Mold affects health through:
- direct skin contact;
- through the use of moldy food;
- through the respiratory and circulatory systems.
Longterm exposure may cause internal bleeding, kidney and liver damage, and emphysema. Children, the elderly and people with weakened immune systems due to illness, chemotherapy, taking antibiotics, etc., have more chances to get serious illness after mold exposure.
If you wanna know the best cleaning strategy and be sure your environment is safe for living, you need to know what’s the difference between mold and mildew.
How to Distinguish Mold From Mildew
In fact, mildew is just a specific type of mold. Even though mold and mildew have many similarities, they have different health risks to those who come into contact with them.
- Both of them are fungus growing in moist places with poor light. Even if spores are present on the walls, waiting for favorable conditions for growth, but there is not enough moisture, they will not grow.
- Grow only in suitable environments for spores. It is organic, porous substance (fabric, wood, paper, drywall, clothing, insulation, padding, carpeting, upholstery, foods)
- Both can’t grow on synthetic materials (plastic or metal-based products).
The best way to distinguish mold from mildew is to pay attention to its color:
- Mildew – white or gray, easily removed with a scrubbing brush and a special cleaner.
- Mold – mold, green or yellow, can lead to structural damage to your house and health problems if you don’t treat it.
The texture also differs:
- Mildew is fuzzy or powdery. It often grows on the leaves of plants and feeds on the organic cells of the plant making it look sick.
- The texture of mold is extremely slimy or fuzzy. Uncontrolled mold growth looks plant-like and destroys the cellular integrity of its host. Surfaces covered in mold often begin to rot.
Mold is a fungus that penetrates beneath the surface of the host substance. Mildew remains on the surface and removed easily. The sooner you start to fight mold, the easier it will be to deal with. Mold releases mycotoxins causing skin and eye irritation, shortness of breath, fever, and other allergic reactions. Mildew is not so toxic but food with mildew shouldn’t be eaten.
Common Types of Mold
There are more than 10,000 kinds of mold that can appear in your house and harm your family’s health.
5 most common types of mold:
- Alternaria. Very common fungus of the 4-th pathogenicity group. Appears in places that have suffered from water. As a rule, it is found in moist places such as under sinks, showers, around windows, doors, and walls. The down-like textured mold has a black, dark brown or gray color. Alternaria increases the risk of allergies and can cause asthma and breathing problems.
- Aspergillus. It is the most common kind of mold in houses in the United States. Aspergillus may be found in a great variety of colors – brown, gray, yellow, white, green, or black. It appears on paper products, walls, and clothing. If you don’t treat it for a long time and have weak immune system, it may provoke allergies, lung infections, and immune issues such as asthma attacks, fever, and coughing up blood. Keep your home well-ventilated, leak-free and clean to avoid it.
- Cladosporiumis. It is not so toxic to a human and differs from other types a lot due to its ability to appear in cool areas. This dark green or black mold usually found in fabrics like curtains or carpets, and wooden surfaces such as floorboards or cabinets. Cladosporiumis is not so harmful as previous types of mold but it can cause respiratory issues and allergies, and nails and skin infections. This is the most common fungus in the open air in the summer.
- Penicillium. May be found even in low humidity. It is often provoked by spoiled products or just grow on or inside furniture, insulation, carps, wallpaper, mattresses and other materials. As a rule, it is green or blue with a strong and irritating smell. Its spores spread from one area to another easily and lead to respiratory problems such as allergies or asthma. Penicillium plays a huge role in the environment and it is widely used in pharmaceuticals for drugs preparation.
- Stachybotrys Chartarum or Black Mold. Has the highest toxicity and very dangerous. The usual places to find it are moist and warm – crawl places, basements or air conditioning ducts where there is a lot of condensation. The toxins provoke a great variety of illnesses, from lung problems and allergies to headaches, fever or chronic fatigue. Black mold has a dusty smell like rotting leaves.
Common Types of Mildew
- Powdery mildew grows on flowers and looks like gray or white patterned splotches that become yellowish brown or black as time passes;
- Downy mildew grows on agricultural products like potatoes or grapes. Its appearance depends on the product it grows on, but as a rule, it looks like yellow spots turning brown as fungus grows.
Causes of Mold
- Poor ventilation system. Install air conditioning at home or other systems that are responsible for ventilation in the room. If there is no such possibility, then it is necessary to open the windows more often.
- Ventilation systems for kitchen, bathroom, and toilet. These are rooms in which there is high air humidity, and, as a rule, it contributes to the development of mold and other types of fungus. In this case, you need to pay attention to frequent airing of rooms or install a special air conditioning system.
- Water drain problems. The first symptom is the presence of moisture that occurs along the passage of pipes. You may also find traces on the wall next to the bathroom at the height of the edge of the bath. Accurate
- Increased thermal conductivity of corners and heat loss in the end rooms due to the increased area of external walls facing the street.
- Leaking gutters and drain. As a rule, this problem is visible only from the outside, in the form of drips on the plaster. However, if the humidity is high, drips may also arise from the center. Often this problem is taken for granted until the situation becomes serious. But leaks will create a real problem only in the winter when the water freezes in the plaster.
- Moisture coming from the ground. It can be seen in the form of streaks at the junctions of the walls with the floor of the first floor or basement. In this case, an examination of the state of horizontal insulation of foundation walls can help. If it is damaged, then you should fix it with the help of a specialized company. The main walls must be dried thoroughly. An additional problem occurs if the floor is also wet, in this case, the problem is hard to get rid of unless you remove the fragment.
The humidity from 70% to 80% is normal for a comfortable human existence,
Mold and Mildew Testing
If you want to know what type of fungi is in front of you, you can test it:
- Home testing – drip a few drops of household bleach on the affected area. Wait 5 minutes and look at the spot – if it has become lighter, so this is mildew, if the color hasn’t changed, you look at mold.
- Professional testing – if you suspect considerable mold growth it’s better to ask for professional assistance.
There are also various testing kits for mildew or mold detecting that you can find on the market;
How to Find Mold in Your House?
Sad but true, many Americans don’t test the house for mold before purchasing it. Many of us suffer from asthma and don’t even suspect that the reason is mold.
3 methods to confirm mold if you suspect it is your house:
- Visual Inspection by a specialist.
- Infrared Inspection saves money as inspectors use infrared cameras showing leaks or differences in temperature without drilling walls or flooring removal.
- Air-quality test by inspectors. It is expensive and used only if an initial test for mold gives reasons to concern.
How to Remove Mold or Mildew?
Mildew is much easier to remove than mold. Mildew is easily removed with cleaning fluid and a scrubbing brush. Make sure you work in a well-ventilated room and have facial mask on your face to prevent breathing mildew spores in and to avoid inhaling fumes of the cleaning fluid. Put rubber gloves to protect your hands.
Clean thoroughly all the surface around affected areas to ensure that all the mildew is successfully removed. If mildew is found on the ground in a flower pot, spores will die from regular watering of diluted citric acid.
- After the detection of affected areas with mold, moisten them with water for spores don’t spread into the air.
- Apply special agent neutralizing the mold, and preventing its spread with a margin of 1 m beyond the affected area to destroy spores that may be invisible to the eyes. It is necessary to treat the affected area 2-3 times, and the next layer should be applied only after the previous one dries. Follow the instructions on the product packaging.
- Take a metal brush and remove the fungus carefully. Paint or wallpaper are usually removed. If the mold developed and penetrated into the deeper layers and cannot be removed completely. In this case, external DIY treatment will not fix the problem. Replace the affected piece if possible.
- Removed affected fragments must be burned after treatment.
- A protective agent should be applied for a long period of time after treatment.
Wait for 48-72 hours after treatment to start using the room and provide it with good ventilation.
Mold is much harder to get rid of and, its spores are spread very easily. Mold attaches to the host substance with microfilaments penetrating beneath the surface. Its spores spread very fast and survive in extreme conditions, so they affect large areas and result in serious permanent damage.
Its musty smell appears, and mold becomes visible only when the colonies are growing, so it is very hard to detect and prevent it.
The safest way is to call for an experienced professional that will determine the kind of mold or mildew and take the most appropriate actions.
Preventing Mold and Mildew
Both mildew and mold are caused by humidity. The 3 most common places that water can penetrate to your house are windows, roofs, and basements.
- Try to clean and sanitize these rooms more often not to let spores find a place to grow mold or mildew.
- Maintain a humidity level of about 40-50% inside your home.
- Throw out any mildew-affected plants and weeds if notice them to prevent mildew spreading.
- Do not close the door tightly in rooms with high humidity (bathroom, etc.)
- Work on drainage and waterproofing of the basement in order to protect against groundwater.
- Balconies have high humidity, install a heating system there if possible.
- If you feel the taste of mold in the mouth after brushing your teeth, it means your toothbrush is affected with fungus, throw it out.
- Throw away products with mildew as soon as possible.
Don’t live in apartments where there is mold.