What constitutes dead mold? Is there such a thing?
A recent news story highlights the misinformation that surrounds the issue of toxic mold. An Oklahoma City mother, a resident of public housing, alerted her property manager recently to a mold problem in her home. Debra Craig believes the mold that is covering 75-80% of the home is contributing to the family’s chronic health issues.
The property manager sent a maintenance person to check it out.
According to Craig and Channel 9 News,
“The guy looked at some of the mold that was in the hallway and ran his finger across it and told me it was dead.”
This news story quotes Debra as saying that “she’s not a mold expert, but believes without any treatment, the mold is definitely not dead.”
(View the news story here.)
I want to say to this mom, “You don’t have to be an expert to know that something is off about this. Trust your instincts.”
Our family was told not to listen to the hype about toxic mold when we uncovered massive amounts in 2007. Unfortunately we believed this advice and hired remediators who wore no masks and blew fans on the exposed mold . Our already declining health grew much worse. (Read our story here.)
Here’s the truth about indoor mold contamination like we see in the photo above:
Mold produces spores in order to reproduce. All it needs is the right conditions to keep reproducing, which is moisture. If a leak is not taken care of, mold will continue to grow. Touching visible mold does nothing to address the source.
Let’s say there is no hidden leak or that all leaks have been found and remedied. It is possible for mold to be dead?
According to the leading toxicologist in this field, Dr. Jack Thrasher, the answer is yes. But there is an important caveat,
“The dead mold colonies are still dangerous. They contain the same allergens and toxins that the living molds produce. The so-called dead mold would break up into fine particulates and shed these into the indoor environment. Most likely, they would be inhaled by the occupant.”
Furthermore, according to Thrasher, mold colonies shed fine particulates in the living state which are nano particles (0.03 to 0.3 microns).
“These minute particles are about 1000 times greater in concentration than are the spores detected during testing for airborne spores. Testers never attempt to detect the fine particulates. They wind up in a variety of places and bind to fabrics, end up in refrigerator coil dust and contaminate heating and air conditioning ducts. They also contain the allergens and toxins.”
What does this mean for this mom in Oklahoma City? I hope the publicity helps her effort to relocate.
I also hope it helps create awareness that mold is potentially hazardous – living or dead.
For more information on the subject of mold see Dr. Thrasher’s article “The Biocontaminants and Complexity of Damp Indoor spaces: More Than What Meets the Eyes.”
Also check out the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health document Preventing Occupational Respiratory Disease from Exposures Caused by Dampness in Office Buildings, Schools, and Other Nonindustrial Buildings. This is an arm of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Here is a hint of what you’ll find:
Occupants within damp office buildings, schools, and other nonindustrial buildings may develop respiratory symptoms and disease.
If you’re wondering about your home, office or school environment see the previous post A Beginner’s Guide to Toxic Mold.