Dealing with Mold

In the Nick of Time

Mold is, to put it simply, fungi. Microscopic mold particles are always present both indoors and out and can be found in soil, plant matter, foods, and other items. Although molds typically get a bad rap, they are an essential part of the world around us as they help break down dead organic matter like fallen leaves and dead trees. Molds also produce spores, which are microscopic cells that can spread through the air. When mold spores land in the right conditions, they can form new mold growths or colonies. No one knows exactly how many types of mold there are; estimates range from tens of thousands to as many as 300,000 or so.

Mold and mildew growth are the some of the biggest reasons why it's important to start cleaning up water disasters right away. Mold and mildew are the same thing; mildew is just another common term for mold growth.

Mold has received a lot of media attention in recent years, as problems with it indoors are on the rise. Interestingly, it's more of a problem in newer homes than in old construction. Such things as the materials used and more airtight construction methods are believed to be the culprits.

Not all molds can cause serious problems. But some definitely can. One infamous example of mold gone rampant involved an 11,500-square-foot luxury home in Texas. In the late 1990s, the house developed several plumbing leaks. This led to the growth of a mold called Stachybotrys atra, an especially lethal strain that produces airborne toxins that can cause breathing difficulties, dizziness, flu-like symptoms, bleeding in the lungs, and memory and hearing loss. Other, less potent molds can cause skin and eye irritation, asthma, and sinus problems.

The family involved developed serious health problems, including difficulty breathing, stomach problems, brain seizures, and memory loss. They also had to abandon their dream home. They eventually won a $32 million judgment (it was later reduced to $4 million) against their insurance company.

Mold problems draw their share of controversy. While there's scientific evidence linking mold in homes and buildings to asthma symptoms and other respiratory problems, a 2004 report from the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies didn't find enough evidence to support the association between indoor dampness or mold and other health problems they reportedly cause. The panel, however, did warn that research was limited and that further studies were warranted.

Excerpted from The Complete Idiot's Guide to Common Household Disasters © 2005 by Paul Hayman and Sonia Weiss. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Alpha Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

To order this book visit Amazon's web site or call 1-800-253-6476.


8 Epic Emoji-Themed Crafts, Activities & Recipes
Check out the best emoji crafts, activities, and recipes! They're perfect for an emoji-themed birthday party or anytime you need DIY (and screen-free!) summer activities for kids, tweens, and teens.

Find Today's Newest & Best Children's Books
Looking for newly released books for your child? Try our Book Finder tool to search for new books by age, type, and theme!

10 Free Summer Learning Worksheets
Print these free printables for preschoolers and kindergarteners to help your child's mind stay sharp until September!

Ready for Kindergarten?
Try our award-winning Kindergarten Readiness app! This easy-to-use checklist comes with games and activities to help your child build essential skills for kindergarten. Download the Kindergarten Readiness app today!

stay connected

Sign up for our free email newsletters and receive the latest advice and information on all things parenting.

Enter your email address to sign up or manage your account.

Facebook icon Facebook icon Follow Us on Pinterest

editor’s picks