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What Is Mold?  

Toxic Black Mold SporesMolds are microscopic organisms (miniscule life forms) found virtually everywhere outdoors. Their purpose in the ecosystem is to decompose dead organic materials such as plants, dry leaves, dead animals, etc. Some molds are useful, such as those used to make antibiotics and cheese. Others are known to be toxic and potentially harmful to humans and animals. Most of the mold found indoors comes from outdoors and is easily managed. Where trouble begins is when toxic or highly allergenic molds begin growing indoors. 

No one really knows how many species of mold exist but estimates range from tens of thousands to perhaps three hundred thousand or more. The production of spores¹ is characteristic of molds in general. Most spores are filamentous (thread-like) organisms so small that 250,000 of them can fit on the head of a pin. Molds that grow indoors tend to produce more toxic (poisonous) spores than molds that grow outdoors. When indoor spores become airborne, whether toxic or allergenic, a variety of problems often occur, including property damage and health problems. 
PROPERTY DAMAGE:
Toxic Black Mold Growth
When airborne mold spores land on damp spots indoors they often begin to grow and produce more spores which become airborne again and land on other surfaces, perpetuating the cycle. When airborne mold spores land on ideal growth conditions, the results are often overwhelming. Structural damage caused by water or water vapor trapped behind walls is a prime location for mold to grow. That's why it's important to identify potential areas or situations where mold can grow (see About Mold Inspections). Both toxic and allergenic molds can grow on wood, ceiling tiles, drywall, latex paint, paper, carpet, and foods. Growth is often accelerated in humid environments and/or when these materials are exposed to moisture, dampness, and direct water contact. If moisture problems are not corrected quickly and properly, the growth can be exponential and the end results catastrophic. (see Mold and Property Damage)
HEALTH ISSUES:
Not everyone who is exposed to toxic black mold will have to have fungal masses like these surgically removed from from their lungs. However, if indoor mold contamination, particularly toxic mold contamination is extensive, persons exposed to high levels of mold spores can become sensitized and develop allergies to the mold or other health problems. For some people, a relatively small number of mold spores can trigger an asthma attack or lead to other health problems. For other persons, symptoms may occur only when exposure levels are much higher. Nonetheless, exposure to mold is not healthy for anyone. Indoor mold growth is unsanitary and undesirable and should be eliminated. (see Mold Health Effects)
¹ A small, usually single-celled reproductive body that is highly resistant to desiccation and heat and is capable of growing into a new organism, produced especially by certain bacteria, fungi, algae, and nonflowering plants.

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