4 most common types of household mold
People normally are turned off by mold, but in our ecosystem, mold has an important job. Mold functions to accelerate decay of organic organisms. Mold essentially removes the world’s clutter and this is a good thing.
It isn’t a good thing when mold starts to grow in our homes. Unfortunately, in a home mold will perform the same function as it does in nature. This means it will break down and decompose what is most important to us, our homes, the same way it does in Mother Nature.
The study of mold is one of the more daunting frontiers of science. Scientists have estimated there are about 400,000 varieties of mold, but only a fraction of known species have been named. There are about 1,000 types of mold found in homes in the US, and some are more common than others. The four most common types of mold found in homes are Cladosporium, Penicillium, Aspergillus, and Alternaria.
Though Cladosporium is more commonly found outdoors, it can thrive in any damp, dark environment. This includes inside your home. If you find small, black, pepper-like mold in your toilet, it is most likely Cladosporium.
Though Cladosporium is not considered toxic, it can cause severe reactions and those with allergies, asthma, or sensitive immune systems. These individuals should do their best to avoid contact with this variety of mold. Because Cladosporium is an airborne mold, it can be very difficult to eliminate completely. If this mold is spotted, surfaces with Cladosporium should be scrubbed vigorously with bleach and wiped dry.
Penicillium is commonly found on moist, dead organic matter, in the great outdoors. This common type of household mold is what we recognize it as that fuzzy green, white, or blue fuzz that grows on our food. Eating food with Penicillium can cause severe gastric irritation, and its airborne spores can cause allergic reactions, such as nasal congestion, watery eyes, and coughing.
To prevent Penicillium from becoming a problem in your home, be vigilant in throwing away food when it starts to spoil. Be attentive of the fruit on your countertop. Clean out your refrigerators carefully.
Aspergillus is one of the most common molds, and it is also one of the most dangerous molds. This fast-growing mold often appears after a basement flood or a large plumbing leak, but it can also form anywhere where there is extremely high humidity and organic matter for the mold to use as a food source.
Aspergillus, like many molds metabolize allergens known as mycotoxins. Unlike other molds, Aspergillus produces aflatoxin, which is one of the deadliest carcinogens known to man. While this mold presents the greatest risk to those who are immunosuppressed, it could cause health problems for anyone. If you have Aspergillus, it should be cleaned up with bleach and proper safety precautions such as a mask, gloves and maybe even eye protection.
Though Alternaria is found mostly outside, this airborne mold can easily enter the home. Alternaria often settles in carpets, clothing, and on flat surfaces. This mold doesn’t need as much water as other molds usually require, so it can grow in more areas. It still thrives in moist areas; it can be found often in structures that have sustained water damage from plumbing leaks and floods.
This mold has long hairs and looks like a velvety tuft. It can vary in colors, ranging in color from dark olive green to brown. Alternaria produces mycotoxins, and its large spores have been known to cause respiratory problems like hypersensitivity pneumonitis. For this reason, Alternaria has been called “an asthma-causing mold.”
Mold is all around us on this planet. It is an important part of our ecosystem, but in our homes, mold can cause problems to our living environment and our health. For this reason it is important to be aware of the areas of our home where mold can form. When mold is discovered take decisive action: remove the mold and when possible, cut off the supply of moisture. If mold has gotten out of hand, consult a professional to have it removed safely and completely.