Molds are the “bleu” in bleu cheese and Roquefort. Molds improve our wine. They produce penicillin and antibiotics and are used widely in the food and beverage industry. Without mold and mold’s decaying mechanism, the natural environment would be overwhelmed with large amounts of dead organic matter. Despite many harmless and beneficial molds, some molds can be toxic and pose very serious health threats to humans. The Environmental Protective Agency (EPA) cautions that all molds can cause health problems under the right conditions. The word “toxic” is used to refer to mold that produces toxic compounds, or mycotoxins. Often included in the list of toxic molds is Stachybotrys Chartarum, a greenish-black mold, which can grow on high cellulose, low nitrogen materials such as fiberboard, drywall, paper, dust and lint in the presence of moisture.
Mold is a natural byproduct of the fungi family that thrive when nutrients—primarily organic substances and water—are found in the right conditions. These organic substances include materials commonly found in buildings: soil, dead plants, carpets, drywall, fiberboard, wood, paper, dust, lint, and etc. Mold propagates via spores that can remain dormant—yet viable—for years during periods when moisture is not present. Mold issues require education, identification, remediation, and solutions to minimize mold growth in the environments we live.
HVACR mechanical systems are not generators of mold. Their metallic surfaces do not provide the organic matter mold needs to grow. However, systems that are not well maintained could support mold growth. It’s important that your system:
The first step is to alert your HVAC contractor and/or the building contractor (if the building is relatively new) regarding your concerns. The next step is education and exploring solutions. If mold is found, identifying the type will help establish whether any dangers are present. If health issues are present, evacuation, abatement, and remediation are necessary.
The identification of mold requires specialized testing and laboratory analysis to determine the type of mold and any of the health hazards that may be associated with it.
If your HVAC contractor does not perform mold analysis, abatement, and remediation, they may be able to identify a partnering company that is trained and certified in this type of work.
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