Without question, mold is one of the most misunderstood threats to homes. Lawsuits related to mold have been brought against developers or even association boards over health issues and construction problems in communities. These incidents have brought to focus the confusion over mold – what is it exactly, and how much is too much? Mold can almost always be found in the air that we breathe and the buildings we live in. But if mold is as old as the earth, why all the concern?
Mold has come into the spotlight due to several factors, one of the most prominent being the increasingly modern lifestyle that associations and their residents lead. The latest luxuries and conveniences such as indoor swimming pools and central A/C can place additional sources of moisture in the residences and clubhouses – which is the number one reason for indoor mold. There is no way to eliminate all molds and mold spores; the only way to control indoor mold is to control moisture.
To restore some sanity to the discussion, let’s bust the two biggest myths about mold.
MYTH: It is possible to live in a community completely free of mold.
Fact: Every building and thereby every community has some amount of measurable mold – no matter how small. Mold is everywhere, both in and outside your homes. The number one step that associations can take to reduce the levels of problematic mold is by using the building’s ventilation systems, or installing proper ones to get rid of excess moisture.
Venting homeowner’s bathrooms and dryers to the outside of the building, using air conditioners in the summer, and immediately fixing any signs and the source of a water leak will go a long way in preventing mold growth. Mold may always be present, but it doesn’t always have to be harmful. Since HVAC systems and/or the building frames are often a common element in garden-style condominiums, these communities can take an active step in to control moisture.
MYTH: There are national standards in place on how to test for mold, and how much mold is “allowed” inside a home.
Fact: There are no national standards or protocols on how to test for mold or analyze its impact. However, when a problem is suspected, an industrial hygienist should investigate the property and give a professional assessment of the mold levels. The only way they can really perform this assessment is by testing the outside level of mold and comparing it to the inside level.
Be wary of any ‘mold inspectors’ who require you to pay high fees for a test and then when mold is found, as it will be, recommend very drastic and expensive measures to get rid of it. There are a few extreme situations where this remediation may be necessary, but these cases generally involve large sections of the building with discoloration, damp walls and floors, and a strong musty smell.
There could be hidden mold in your community’s homes, and since some types of mold are more hazardous than others, it’s wise to investigate if you suspect a problem. Mold remediation can often be a simple process, as long as you stay vigilant and aware of the interior moisture levels. The trick is to catch mold before it eats away at your community’s homes—and wallet.