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Mold Species – What Level of Mold is Dangerous?

Mold is a fungus that can spread through excessive moisture inside and outside of your commercial building. After a flood or water leak, it can easily spread throughout a commercial building. Abnormal mold spore counts in your building could result in structural damage and health risks for your employees.

While it may not be visible at first, if you had mold in the workplace, you and your staff would smell a musty odor or experience hay-fever symptoms, like sneezing or congestion. You’ll need to deal with this unpleasant situation in your building before it takes over your business. Before you call a professional to take care of the infestation in your building, use this guide to discover what level of mold is dangerous.

 

Is Mold Common in Commercial Buildings?

Yes, mold is common in commercial buildings, especially in industries that deal with high levels of moisture. If the indoor air quality of your company’s property has declined, there’s a chance of mold being present on paper products, windows, pipes and roofs. When a company has experienced water damage in the recent past, you can expect to find mold somewhere in the building.

Mold can grow on a damp surface a mere 48 hours after a flood or heavy rainstorm. This fungus could result in allergies and other serious health risks in your employees. If your workers get sick from breathing in fungus, they may use paid time off, costing the company money. In extreme cases, they may even sue your company for putting their health at risk.

To deal with mold that has grown in your commercial building:

  • Call a professional remediation technician to inspect the area and deal with the issue appropriately.
  • Tell your employees about the potential fungal growth within the workplace.
  • Establish a plan to prevent mold infestation in the future.
  • Create an atmosphere where your employees feel comfortable reporting mold they’ve seen around the building.

What Are Common Indoor Mold Types?

Discover which species of fungi are most dangerous by checking out the characteristics of the common indoor mold types. While all of them are harmful to some degree, certain species are toxic when inhaled or touched. Explore the physical qualities of these mold types to find out if they’re in your place of business:

  • Acremonium: This fungus is a small, moist mold that eventually becomes a pink, gray, white or orange powder. It’s usually found in HVAC systems and on damp carpeting and furniture.
  • Aspergillus: You would be able to recognize Aspergillus by its long, flask-shaped spores and the thick layers of mold on the walls. While it takes on various colors, it can grow on any material in the right conditions, including insulation and wallpaper.
  • Aureobasidium: This fungus often looks brown, black or pink and turns dark brown as it ages. You would probably find Aureobasidium on wet wood and windows or painted surfaces.
  • Chaetomium: Chaetomium looks like cotton and can be either white, gray, brown or black. Including a strong smell, you would recognize this fungus on items including cellulose, such as baseboards, carpets and paper.
  • Cladosporium: You could tell if you have Cladosporium in your building if you see an olive-green or brown mold that looks like suede on wood or tile.
  • Eurotium: This rapid-growing fungus features yellow or green colonies that you may find in your HVAC units or on the floor.
  • Fusarium: The texture of the colonies look either like cotton or wool, and the colors range from white to brown to purple. You may discover Fusarium on carpets, damp walls or polyester polyurethane foam.
  • Mucor: This fungus isn’t prevalent because it requires high levels of humidity to reproduce. You may have a Mucor infestation if you notice thick white or gray patches near your air conditioning or old carpeting.
  • Penicillium: Penicillium is one of the most common types of mold that makes its way inside a building. Usually green and powdery in texture, this mold is often present on water-damaged building materials and food items.
  • Stachybotrys: As the most popular species, Stachybotrys, or black mold, tends to grow relatively slowly in colonies with a powdery texture. Inside of buildings, this fungus grows on materials containing cellulose, like wood, paper or hay.
  • Trichoderma: While this fungus is common outside, it’s dangerous to indoor building materials. It eats through wood, textile and paper products that’ll make your building crumble.
  • Ulocladium: This fungus takes on various colors and textures, and you’ll probably find it in rooms with severe water damage.
  • Wallemia: While most fungi tend to grow in moist, humid conditions, Wallemia can survive in relatively dry environments. At the same time, this fungus species is scarce, but you may see it on your floors or walls.

If you notice patches with these qualities, it’s best to leave the inspection to a professional. While you can remove some of them with specialized household cleaners, a mold remediation specialist can examine the area and make sure all of the fungi are gone.

What Level of Mold Spores Is Dangerous?

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), any amount of mold is dangerous to have inside of a building. At this time, there are no EPA-acceptable mold levels or regulations for fungal growth within a commercial building. While it’s common in the air, it’s only dangerous when it grows on surfaces due to excessive moisture in an environment.

You may have heard about mold spore counts ranging from 0 to 1,000,000 for outdoor fungal growth, but these numbers are not accurate for indoors. If you’re concerned about an infestation near your commercial patio or garden, try to identify the type of mold you have based on the color and texture.

If you notice signs of mold on the walls, ceiling, floor or furniture, call a professional remediation specialist immediately before it spreads. These technicians know how to read mold reports and determine a plan to get rid of it. Contact a professional to get their opinion instead of dealing with the issue on your own.

 

How Does Mold Grow?

Mold is a common substance found in air particles and dust, but mold grows in the presence of moisture and oxygen. It reproduces by making microscopic spores that travel through indoor and outdoor air. Typically, mold grows in areas that are warmer than 70 degrees Fahrenheit, with high humidity and signs of water damage present.

When mold spores find damp spots inside, they feed off of the moisture and begin to grow, destroying the surface in the process. Prevent the spread of mold in your building by dealing with these common reasons why mold grows:

  • Dampness: Leaking pipes or rainwater might make the room damp, but if it’s wet for more than a day or two, the moisture encourages the spread of mold. While most damp areas are apparent, they may be hidden and develop fungi over time. Dry any wet materials as soon as possible and prevent absorbent furniture that’s hard to dry from coming into contact with moisture.
  • Water damage: A burst pipe, flooding or other water damage might cause a water-damaged ceiling and invite mold to grow. If you’ve had a flood or even a harsh rainstorm lately, inspect the areas where your building may have collected water. Clean up the water immediately to prevent the spread of mold and protect the integrity of your company’s property.
  • Humidity: To avoid spreading mold throughout your commercial building, reduce the indoor humidity in the air by 30% to 60%. Set up vents in the bathroom, dryer and kitchens to push the moist air outside. Use air conditioners, dehumidifiers and exhaust fans when cleaning or cooking.
  • Other molds: Mold can multiply by forming colonies and taking over the surfaces on your company’s property. If there’s mold anywhere in your building, even a small amount, get rid of it. While you can clean the fungus off of the hard surfaces in the building with water and detergent, you should contact a mold remediation company to make sure it’s completely gone.

Signs of Mold in Your Building

To find mold in your building, use your senses. The fungus is visible to the human eye, and it produces a musty, foul odor. Your employees may also experience mold allergies if they’re sensitive to these contaminants. Follow these tips for finding mold in your building:

 

  • Mold growth: Depending on the fungus present in a building, it would either look white and thread-like or appear as clusters of black spots. Check the walls and any areas where moisture could be present to find out if mold is growing there. Areas where mold may be hiding include behind drywall, on top of ceiling tiles and inside the ductwork.
  • Mold odor: When mold spreads, it releases Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) that are dangerous to the air quality of your workplace. Some fungi don’t produce an odor, but most of them give off a musty smell that’s apparent in the local area. People often describe the smell as wet socks or rotten wood. Call a mold remediation specialist if you notice a persistent, unpleasant odor in the air.
  • Mold allergies: The staff in the building will start to complain of physical symptoms, such as coughing, sneezing, congestion and irritated skin. You would know that mold is the cause of these allergies if the symptoms go away when they leave your property. They might be experiencing an allergy to a fungal infestation if they only sneeze or have an itchy throat inside the building.
  • Water leaks: Listen to the walls and sinks for dripping noises that could indicate a water leak somewhere in the building. Mold may be growing behind the walls or on the floor or ceiling. Inspect these areas for peeling, bubbling or cracking paint, as well as near windows and metal pipes where condensation occurs.
  • Past water damage: Mold grows in the presence of excessive moisture. There could be mold growing inside of the building that has had any flooding or water damage recently. Examine the rooms where the flooding occurred, paying particular attention to the floors, walls and furniture.

Effects of Different Mold Types in Your Building

The presence of mold in your workplace can result in unsightly spots around your property. More importantly, it can also affect the respiratory and cognitive health of your employees. With massive exposure to mold, including touching and inhaling mold or mold spores, your employees could suffer from various health risks.

Here are some of the effects of the different mold you have in your building:

  • Asthma: One of the most common side effects of mold exposure is an increase in asthma attacks. Symptoms of this illness range from coughing, wheezing and shortness of breath. While most people who have asthma control their symptoms with inhalers and medicine, mold can develop or worsen the condition in about 15% of asthmatics.
  • Allergies: When mold infiltrates an area, it can increase the unpleasant symptoms of those who have allergies. They may experience irritation of the mouth, throat and nose, plus a runny nose and itchy eyes. Allergic responses, including hay-fever symptoms, like sneezing and a running nose, are more frequent when people come into contact with mold.
  • Fungal infection: With excessive exposure to large quantities of mold, fungal infections are possible. These illnesses affect the sinuses, lungs, skin and digestive tract. If you have any employees with compromised immune systems, these infections can be fatal if their bodies aren’t able to fight them off on their own.
  • Cognitive impairment: Mold spores produce fat-soluble mycotoxins that can disrupt normal brain function. With long-term exposure to mold, the people in your building could experience confusion, memory loss, insomnia and problems concentrating. These unpleasant symptoms may cause discomfort among your employees and a decrease in productivity during the day.
  • Hypersensitivity Pneumonitis (HP): While HP is a rare lung disorder, mold can trigger this illness and damage the lungs of your employees. This illness looks like pneumonia at first, but it’s resistant to antibiotics. The symptoms usually begin about two to nine hours after exposure to mold and can last up to three days.

Aside from the health risks that affect the employees of a mold-infected building, mold can also damage the workplace structure. Mold can eat away at drywall, carpet, ceilings, and wooden studs that hold up your company’s property. If you don’t deal with the infestation as soon as possible, it can eat away at these parts of the building and cause the whole structure to collapse.

Remove and Prevent Mold Growth With URI

Ultimately, the best way to remove and prevent the growth of fungus in your commercial building is by hiring a mold remediation specialist instead of endangering your employees. If your company has suffered from an emergency disaster, our team at URI provides mold services for businesses in the following areas:

Deal with the mold in your building before it spreads and becomes a more significant issue for your company. For more information about how we can remove the fungus from your business, fill out a contact form, or call 888-753-7587.