At the end of this module, you will be able to:
- Define mold
- Identify the types of mold
- Describe the health effects of mold
- Describe where and why mold grows
- Identify ways to prevent mold
- List mold cleaning tips
The following key questions are answered in this module:
What is mold?
Molds are microscopic organisms. They come in a variety of colors, including green, red, and black. Some are wet and slimy, while others are dry and powdery. Unfortunately, color and texture are not enough to determine how toxic a mold might be.
How does mold spread?
In order for mold to reproduce, it produces spores. Spores are tiny, lightweight, and travel easily through air, in water, or with insects. Spores are similar to seeds. As they spread, they can form new mold. A person can be exposed to mold without knowing it, by inhaling or handling mold spores.
How many types of mold are there, and which are the four most commonly seen?
There are more than 1,000 types of mold. They vary in shape, color, and texture. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the four most common types of mold are: Aspergillus (commonly found in decomposing food and materials, water damaged carpets, humidifiers, and damp walls or wallpapers), Penicillium (found in spoiled food and on any surface where there is moisture or humidity), Cladosporium (often found in wallpaper and carpet), and Alternaria ( most known for diseased brown spots, or sunken lesions on fruit and leaves due to fungal toxins).
Is mold dangerous for everyone, and what are some of the risks associated with it?
Mold affects people differently based on the person's health and on the type of mold. Some people are at much greater risk from mold than others. These include those who have: asthma, allergies, respiratory disorders, compromised immune disorders, HIV infection, and cancer.
Where does mold grow?
Mold can grow on a number of objects, including wood, paper, carpet, food, and insulation. It thrives best wherever there is excess or standing water. Common causes of mold growth in homes and businesses include: flooding, roof leaks, plumbing leaks, damp basements or crawl spaces, steam from the bathroom or kitchen, humidifiers, condensation from poor insulation or ventilation, backed up sewers, combustion appliances not exhausted outside, and overflowing gutters.
Below is a transcript of the video sample provided for this module:
There are more than 1,000 types of mold. They vary in shape, color, and texture. Spores are largely responsible for the look of a mold, but they are not necessarily the same color as the stalk. Spore and stalk color differences can cause outer rings and other two tone mold appearances. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the CDC, the four most common types of mold are: Aspergillus, which is most often a shade of green or sometimes black. It is commonly found in decomposing food and materials, water damaged carpets, humidifiers, and damp walls or wallpapers. Penicillium, which is frequently blue-green and can be fuzzy. It is found in spoiled food and on any surface where there is moisture or humidity. Cladosporium, which can be olive green, black, and brown, and is often found in wallpaper and carpet. And Alternaria, which is characterized by a chain of spores in a variety of colors, but is most known for diseased brown spots or sunken lesions on fruit and leaves due to fungal toxins.
Use the additional resources and links below to learn more about this topic:
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) – www.cdc.gov
- CDC Index - http://www.cdc.gov/mold/
- Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) – www.epa.gov
- EPA Indoor Air - http://www.epa.gov/mold/moldresources.html
- U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) – www.osha.gov
- OSHA Safety and Health Topics - https://www.osha.gov/SLTC/molds/