Is Mold Affecting Your Indoor Air Quality
While some molds are actually essential components of our ecosystem, excessive exposure to molds has been a human health issue for many years. Molds are found in every environment and their presence can be detected — indoors and outdoors — year-round. All mold growth is encouraged by warm, humid conditions, not uncommon in the warm Los Angeles area climate.
Homeowners, landlords, building maintenance and management personnel should know who provides the most effective means of locating existing growths in order to prevent the damage to indoor air quality and possible health effects on family members or tenants.
Mold spores aren’t the only airborne irritants that affect indoor air quality, but some people are more sensitive to airborne mold spores. For these people, lengthy, repeated exposure can produce eye irritations, nasal stuffiness, wheezing or skin irritations. Others with serious allergies to mold or those with chronic respiratory illnesses may have more serious reactions, including fever, infections and shortness of breath.
Air Sampling and Testing
Airborne mold levels and indoor air quality are measured by collecting samples from the air, surfaces, bulk materials (drapes, furniture and clothing) and other areas. Test-only inspectors commonly collect four or five samples in order to investigate indoor air quality. Of course, the number of rooms in a home or residential building may influence the total number of samples an inspector takes.
For example, in a kitchen with obvious staining under the sink, the inspector could easily justify taking four samples, including a surface sample of the stain, one behind the wall to test for hidden mold inside the cavity, a kitchen air sample and an outdoor sample for comparison. If you believe your indoor air quality is being compromised — especially by mold — always have samples taken by a certified, test-only mold inspector who will have the samples immediately analyzed by an independent, accredited laboratory.
While there are no federal statutes or regulations regarding mold and indoor air quality, the California Department of Public Health has created the State Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) Program, the first in the country aimed at conducting research into the causes and control of indoor air pollution.
All professionals agree that the first, most vital step in preventing mold is to remove the source of moisture. Stopping leaks, lowering indoor air humidity and complete cleanups in areas with leaks or flooding are key to preventing mold germination and growth.