What Is Mould?

Mould (or moulds, as they are sometimes called) refers to any of thousands of species of microscopic fungi. These fungi are present in the air and soil in virtually every part of the world, however, it is only when they form a colony and start causing problems that they become noticeable. Like other kinds of fungi, mould grows as a network of tiny filaments which spread as they grow, usually on decomposing organic matter; in fact, the growth of mould is often part of the process of decomposition. When these colonies grow to a sufficiently large size, they will be visible as the growths we know as mould or mildew.

Like other fungi, mould reproduces by sending microscopic spores through the air. Mould spores perform much the same function as seeds do for plants, starting new colonies of mould when they land where the conditions are right for growth: warm, moist and preferably dark. In the wild, you’ll find mould assisting in the decomposition of dead organic matter.

Mould grows outdoors and indoors and while mould is more common in humid weather, mould spores can be present in the air at any time of year other than in very cold temperatures. Mould grows in the soil, on leaf litter and other decaying vegetation or in humid areas indoors such as damp basements or bathrooms with inadequate ventilation. Anywhere there is moisture and warmth, mould can take hold. The spores can enter through virtually any opening and get in on people and animals. Normally, they’re not a problem; but when there are sufficiently large quantities and the conditions for growth are right, they can present a health hazard to people and pets.

Some building materials are more prone to mould than others, for instance, wood (especially untreated wood) and ceiling tiles made from particle board are frequently affected by mould. Other products used in many homes which may be susceptible to mould growth include carpet, upholstery and other fabrics, wallpaper, drywall and even some types of paint.

Is Mould Hazardous To Your Health?

If you find mould growing in your home, you should take steps to eliminate it immediately. When mould grows inside of the home, it can damage the structure of the home, furnishings and other possessions and in some people and animals, it can cause health problems. Infants and young children as well as expectant mothers, the elderly and people who are immune-compromised may all be at risk of developing health problems from even a relatively small number of spores. Those who suffer from respiratory problems like asthma are especially at risk of becoming ill due to exposure to mould and are strongly advised to avoid exposure if at all possible.

There are also people who are especially sensitive to mould and in these people, there can be a reaction which is similar to other allergic reactions, with symptoms including skin and eye irritation, congestion or difficulty breathing. There are also people who have very severe mould allergies and their reactions to mould exposure may be extreme, including fever, shortness of breath and in those who have pre-existing respiratory problems, may even develop infections of mould in their respiratory system. These kinds of severe reactions are more common in those who spend extended periods of time exposed to large amounts of mould, such as farmers who work with mouldy hay or other decaying vegetation.

Reactions to mould may be due to a few different substances that mould can produce, including allergens, irritants – and some types of mould also produce poisonous substances called mycotoxins. Experiencing a reaction when inhaling or touching mould or spores is relatively common and this reaction may happen immediately after being exposed to the mould or after a delay.

If you have a mould problem in your home, the time to act is now. Mould causes damage and the longer it is left unchecked, the more serious the damage will be. If it is allowed to grow, mould can cause serious structural damage over time as well as potentially causing health problems in the occupants of the home or business. Keep in mind that the mould that you can see growing on a wall, ceiling or other surface is only the tip of the proverbial iceberg; most of the growth isn’t even visible to the naked eye, which is why one of the first steps in any mould removal is to identify where the source of the mould is so that it can be addressed.


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