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Important Definitions Pertaining to Mold
A chemical substance or microorganism intended to destroy, deter, render harmless, or exert a controlling effect on any harmful organism by chemical or biological means. The biocidal active substances are mostly chemical compounds, but can also be microorganisms (e.g. bacteria). Biocidal products contain one or more biocidal active substances and may contain other non-active co-formulants that ensure the effectiveness as well as the desired pH, viscosity, color, odor, etc. of the final product.
Contamination caused by the growth of fungi, molds, bacteria, etc. Microbiological contamination is common in high humidity climates. High humidity climates are climates with a relative humidity above 40%.
Mold and mildew is the same thing. Mildew is often the term used for mold growth on clothing or fabric. Clothing and fabric can have a high organic content making them great food sources for mold.
Molds and Fungi
Molds are types of fungi, which are not plants, or animals, but a separate kingdom of their own. Molds and fungi are simple, microscopic organisms, found virtually everywhere, indoors and outdoors. Molds and fungi can be found on plants, dry leaves, and other organic material. Molds and fungi play an important role in the environment by breaking down dead, organic material. They reproduce through spores, which become airborne and spores are very common in the air both inside and outside. These are microscopic and are inhaled into our lungs along with pollen, dust and other tiny particles in the air. Mold growths can often be seen as a form of discoloration ranging from white to pink and from green to brown and black.
Molds occur in nature, and as such, are always present in the air at ambient levels. Although airborne levels vary according to locale and current environmental conditions, most individuals will not suffer adverse health effects from exposure to background levels.
Molds produce mycotoxins, which are chemicals associated with growth, self-defense, and metabolism. These mycotoxins can be found on the surface of mold spores and are inhaled into the lungs along with the spores. Additionally, mycotoxins can act as immunosuppressants, which likely explains the association of increased prevalence of frequent infections among inhabitants of damp buildings.
The term toxic mold has most often been applied to the Stachybotrys mold and can be misleading. While the Stachybotrys mold has the potential to be hazardous, there are many other species of mold like Aspergillus, Penicillium, Fusarium, and Alternaria that are very common and can be just as hazardous. Any mold growth on a surface with an organic content (i.e. paper, cloth, wood, sheet rock, etc) has the potential to be Stachybotrys or one of these molds known to have potential negative health effects.