Molds are types of fungi. Mildew is another word for mold.
Some common molds are:
"Toxic molds" are those that produce compounds called mycotoxins. Mycotoxins are produced as as defense against other microorganisms. "Black toxic mold" can refer to a certain type of mold -- Stachybotrys chartarum (also known as Stachybotrys atra). Black is a color, not a type of mold. Therefore, not all black molds are Stachybotrys chartarum. There is also no type of clinical test to determine if you have been exposed to this type of mold.
Mold stains objects or areas such as walls and ceilings and has a musty, earthy smell. Mold can be hidden behind furniture, under carpets and floors, under cabinets, in closets or attics, and inside walls.
Mold can produce allergens, irritants, and in some cases toxins. Breathing or touching mold may cause an allergic reaction in some people and worsen breathing problems such as asthma. Children, women, and people with weak immune systems may be more sensitive to mold.
Common reactions to mold can be coughing, congestion, runny nose, burning eyes, headache, sneezing, and sore throat.
Indoor mold growth can be stopped by controlling indoor moisture. If mold in present indoors, the mold should be removed and the moisture problem fixed as soon as possible. If mold is remoevd without fixing the moisture problem, the mold will return.
In most cases, if the mold growth is small (less than 10 square feet) you can clean it yourself. It is important to remove mold by scrubbing with detergent and water, and then drying the area fully and quickly. If there is a lot of mold growth on certain porous materials like carpet, sheetrock, or insulation, it should be removed and replaced. You may want to talk with a professional if the area of growth is larger or if you have a health condition that can be worsened by mold.
Protect yourself when cleaning up mold by using:
In most cases, if you can see mold growing you do not need to do any sampling/testing. It can be costly. Results cannot be used to decide if a building has safe levels of mold or mold spores. The steps to clean up and stop mold growth are the same for all molds. Stopping mold growth is more important than knowing the type of mold. If a professional is hired to remediate indoor mold, sampling maybe helpful in determining whether the cleanup was successful.
The best way to find mold growth is by using your eyes to look for it and by using your nose to find the source of a moldy odor. If there is a damp, earthy or musty smell mold may be present. Other clues are signs of moisture or the worsening of allergies.
To prevent mold growth, homeowners and property owners should:
1. Remove standing water and dry out the builiding as soon as you can.
2. Throw away moldy things that can't be cleaned. When in doubt, throw it out!
3. Clean all moldy items that have hard surfaces.
NOTE: The following recommendations are from the Louisiana Department of Health & Hospitals
1. Log onto www.lslbc.state.la.us/findcontractor.asp or call 1-866-310-7879 or 225-765-2301.
2. Contact the Louisiana State Licensing Board for Contractors for Do's and Don'ts when hiring a contractor.
3. Check with your insurance agent for referrals and get contractor's business name and address.
4. Check the contractor's license number with the Louisiana Licensing Board for Contractors.
5. Contact the contractor's insurance company to confirm the contractor is insured.
6. Get a written estimate with start and compeletion dates.
7. Never pay more that 10% of the total estimate at the beginnning of the job.
According to the Louisiana Real Estate License Law and the Rules and Regulations of the Louisiana Real Estate Commission, real estate agents must disclose any known "large" defects or future defects in the property. When buying a home or property, it is important to ask about any current or previous defects in the property. According to Act 308 of the 2003 Legislative Session (R.S 9:3196-9:3199), a seller of residential property in Louisiana must provide a Propoerty Disclosure Statement, which should include information on previous or current mold problems.
For more information on mold related issues, including clean-up and moisture control, you may want to refer to the following agencies and organizations: