A moldy summer and the 3 H’S hot-humid-hurricanes

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Courtesy of Atlantic Environmental, Inc.

Once again, we’ve entered the hurricane season, when hot humid air envelops most of North America. Beginning in the Spring and lasting until the first frost of Autumn, the air is typically well above 60% Relative Humidity, which is ideal for promoting the growth of mold. The official Hurricane season runs from June to September, and even though they may not qualify as hurricanes, many storms at this time of year have enough rain and wind to cause structural damage and allow the growth of mold. Even if your home isn’t damaged, prolonged periods of high humidity will promote the growth of mold on many surfaces, and will hasten the spoilage of bread, fruit and other foods. If you spot a bowl of fruit or a loaf of bread that has gone moldy, or if you see some mold growing on a wall or furniture, should you evacuate the house and burn it down?

First off, let’s dispel a common myth about the so-called “Toxic Black Mold, Stachybotrys.” “Stachy” is no better and no worse than any other mold. It was mistakenly thought to be involved in an unusual lung condition years ago, but the myth lives on. Secondly, there is no such thing as a “toxic mold.” It’s a meaningless term, although all molds, as well as all other living creatures, produce waste products that can produce adverse health effects under the right (or possibly wrong) conditions. (Did you know that the mold Penicillium produces a “toxin” called Penicillin!!!) Finally, whether a mold is black, green white, brown, pink or any other color, has absolutely no bearing on a given mold’s ability to create damage. In fact, most mold colonies change their colors as they grow and mature.

Unless there has been severe water damage, almost all mold growth situations can be handled by simply washing the surface with mild detergent and water and rinsing with household bleach. If there has been wind and rainstorm damage, the extent of the problem may require the services of an experienced, certified remediation firm. The building should be allowed to dry out thoroughly and the roof damage repaired before removing the mold. Otherwise it may re-grow. A ruptured pipe or other source of continuous water flow inside the structure has to be found and repaired, followed by thorough drying before removing any mold that has started to grow.

If mold growth in your home is not due to storm damage or a leaking pipe, humid air is probably the cause. Keeping doors and windows closed and using a dehumidifier will go a long way toward keeping the mold from coming back.

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