The M-Factors of MOLD
The indoor environment occupancy is meant for protecting us from various natural and/or manmade calamities. Extreme weather conditions, external predators, recreational activities, and environmental pollution are some good examples of risks for health and productive living. Some of them are simply unavoidable and may pose varying degrees of peril and restrict quality of life.
Scientific evidence has indicated that indoor living of a place may be influenced by existing environmental pollutions. These pollutants may be physical, chemical and biological in nature. In the past several years, mold (a symptom of filamentous fungi) emerged as one such entity that is capable of affecting indoor living, especially those noticed as a poorly or artificially ventilated area. The growth of these microorganisms (mold/fungi) are mainly associated with the “M Factor”, which includes moisture (water), materials (source of nutrients) and manifestation (growth phenomenon in a suitable place).
What are the "M-Factors?
Moisture: It can come indoors from a variety of sources such as flooding or leaks from building water systems (overflow from sinks, tubs, toilets, air conditioning drain pans, sewer systems, etc.), plumbing leaks, broken water pipes, condensation (high humidity, cooking, etc.), flooding from outdoor sources (storm water, overflowing lakes, streams, storm surge, etc.), outdoor sprinkler system spraying on wall surfaces, compromised indoor fire sprinklers, poor ventilation, humidifier, house plants, drying wet cloths indoors, entry of moist air from outdoor, liquid spills, etc.
Materials: Settle dust, wood, sheetrock/drywall, clothing, carpet, hosiery, leathers, other organic and inorganic compounds used in buildings are noticed to provide required nutrients for mold growth.
Manifestation: This starts due to the air and/or surface-borne viable inoculum of fungi. The ambient air itself contains a variety of such particulates. Infected or high touch surfaces inside the building also contains a number of viable mold parts that can give rise to new offspring. Poor building filtration systems, infrequent or deferred hygiene practices, activities such as bringing mold infested materials indoors, using mold infested vegetables and other food stuff, etc. helps in spreading mold inside built environments.
The presence of mold in indoor environments are not an extraordinary event, but it may lead to some health and hygiene issues. There are four main kinds of health related problems noticed due to mold which include allergy, irritation, infection and toxic. These situations can be avoided by understanding the mycoflora (types of mold) present within buildings. Simple DIY test kits are helpful in the collection of mold samples from indoor environments (some can give immediate results), but in other cases environmental samples may be taken by an indoor air professional for testing mold. The collected samples can be analyzed by a qualified laboratory for identification and quantification of mold/fungi, if any. Alleviation of the “M Factors” by a qualified remediator helps in the mitigation and/or better management of mold related issues specially from building environments.
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Mold & The Indoor Environment: Understanding the Risk
Wednesday, April 17, 2019, 2pm ET
Dr. Rajiv R. Sahay, CIAQP, FIAS
Environmental Diagnostics Laboratory Director
Rony Iraq, BS
Environmental Diagnostics Laboratory QA/QC
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