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Mold is a common term used for fungi commonly found in our homes or buildings; however, while all 'molds' are fungi, not all fungi are molds (confusing huh!). Fungi are one of the most ubiquitous life forms on earth and are found virtually everywhere. There are no domestic or natural environments free of molds, fungi, yeasts or bacteria. The number of spores or organisms present at any one time is dependent on humidity, soil moisture, temperature, sunshine (light), the presence and number of plants, animals and/or organic materials in the area and much more. These microorganisms are generally beneficial or necessary as part of the `cycle-of-life'. Without these microorganisms life on earth could not survive. Some are part of the normal skin flora (inhabitants) on man, animals and plants. Some are used to process materials into products we use everyday, such as bread, cheese, beer, soy sauce, antibiotics, medicines, etc. In short, man lives in a virtual sea of these microorganisms and can never be free of their influence, good, bad, or indifferent.

Every surface we touch and every breath we take contains some level of spores and live microorganisms, some of which, under the right circumstances, can produce adverse health effects. Dead or live these organisms, their waste products and/or, in some cases, mold/fungi produced toxins (mycotoxins) are all quite capable of causing adverse health effects. The health effects in humans can range from mild allergies to disabling and/or fatal diseases or poisonings. Keep in mind that it does NOT take a live or viable mold/fungi to produce an adverse health effect. The first step in producing an adverse health effect is the amount of exposure or ‘dose'. Each individual responds differently to the same ‘dose' of a microorganism or its by-products. A dose that may cause a severe response in one individual may have virtually no effect on another. As mentioned, we are constantly exposed to some level of microorganisms in the air we breathe and the things we touch. The world we live in has a naturally occurring level that we are exposed to without suffering an adverse health effect. It is those situations where elevated exposure occurs that problems can arise. The exposure level at which a health effect occurs is known as the ‘dose-response' level and is generally different for each individual and mold type. This wide variability in human susceptibility to mold exposure has caused considerable difficulty in attempts to date to set recommended exposure levels by various groups, associations and regulatory agencies.

The problems associated with mold exposure has been long recognized and been traditionally addressed simply by considering the presence of visible mold growth as an
unsanitary condition whose causative condition and presence must be corrected. While research continues on furthering knowledge of molds, their specific health effects and trying to find some basis for acceptable exposure limits, considerable effort is now underway on developing methods and procedures for recognizing and correcting mold presence in the human environment. The current methodologies found in today's mold assessment and remediation industry run the gamut from totally bogus to excellent. Separating hype from reality requires a good background knowledge of mold, their growth requirements and the pros and cons of available assessment and remediation methodologies.

Whether you are interested in a general mold assessment of your home or building, have experienced a 'water intrusion event' (flooding, roof leak, pipe break, etc.) or are buying or selling a home or building, it is recommended that you obtain professional advise/services for what can be a very complex issue.

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