Mold in the House

By: Eric Badgely

Mold is a major concern today. People talk about it and the national media discusses it with abandon. The very word 'mold' can create a panic. Buyers often fear that a home might have mold or, worse, that it might have 'toxic' mold. As a realtor, who likes to be able to help my clients understand or interpret various concerns, I have tried to learn some basics about mold.

While I am a long way from being an expert, I know that there are many misconceptions about mold. For example, people are of the mindset that they should only worry about "toxic mold". In other words, if mold is non toxic, they will not think about it or even give the presence of mold a second thought. On the other hand, if it is regarded as toxic mold, they will panic. The experts say both of these reactions are examples of misinformed people who display the wrong attitude. I will explain all of this in a minute.

Another misconception, closely related to the first one above, is that all mold should be tested by a lab to see just how toxic it might be. I have had some interesting mold discussions with a home inspector, who has had his own discussions with top experts in the field. These experts state that seldom, to almost never, is there a need to test for any specific varieties of mold. They work from this theory: All molds that grow inside the house are bad. Mold outside is usually okay and to be expected, although you would not want it growing on, and damaging, the structural lumber of the home. The experts say, anytime mold is found, get rid of it and correct the conditions that caused it - excess moisture or a lack of ventilation. The truth is, virtually any mold inside the home might be toxic to someone somewhere as different people have different sensitivities to the fungus.

There is at least one caveat regarding mold testing. If a physician needs to identify a specific variety of mold, to treat an individual who is ill or having a serious mold reaction, then testing mold could be advisable. In a future article I will explain, from what I have been told, the keys to preventing mold growth inside a home and, also, how to clean up mold if you do find it.

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