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Mold

What Is Mold?

Mold is a fungus that grows in the form of multicellular filaments called hyphae. Molds cause biodegradation of natural materials, which is unwanted when it becomes damaging to property. They also play important roles in biotechnology and food science in the production of various foods, beverages, antibiotics, pharmaceuticals and enzymes. Some diseases of animals and humans can be caused by certain molds: disease may result from allergic sensitivity to mold spores, from growth of pathogenic molds within the body, or from the effects of ingested or inhaled toxic compounds (mycotoxins) produced by molds.

There are thousands of known species of molds, all of which require moisture for growth. Like all fungi, molds derive energy not through photosynthesis but from the organic matter on which they live, utilizing heterotrophy. Typically, molds secrete hydrolytic enzymes, mainly from the hyphal tips. These enzymes degrade complex biopolymers such as starch, cellulose and lignin into simpler substances which can be absorbed by the hyphae.

Mold spores are a common component of household and workplace dust; however, when mold spores are present in large quantities (e.g.: higher inside levels than outside levels), they can present a health hazard to humans, potentially causing allergic reactions and respiratory problems. Some molds also produce mycotoxins that can pose serious health risks to humans and animals. Some studies claim that exposure to high levels of mycotoxins can lead to neurological problems. Prolonged exposure may be particularly harmful. Research on the health impacts of mold has not been conclusive. The term "toxic mold" refers to molds that produce mycotoxins, such as Stachybotrys Chartarum, and not to all molds in general. The most common symptoms caused by mold allergy include watery, itchy eyes; chronic cough; headaches or migraines; difficulty breathing; rashes; tiredness; sinus problems; nasal blockage; and frequent sneezing. 

Don't use bleack on mold

Can I Just Clean My Mold With Bleach?

 

NO! Do not EVER use household bleach to clean mold. Searching the internet bleach and mold will give you contradictory information with opinions on both the "yes" and the "no" sides. The correct answer is, NEVER use bleach! Most people incorrectly believe that household bleach kills mold and bacteria on contact, which is a myth. Consumer bleach is approx. 5.25% - 6% sodium hypochlorite. As the sodium hypochlorite evaporates, the bleach solution becomes more water-based and will often aid in rapid re-growth.

 

Another HUGE issue regarding bleach is that several types of mold (such as Aspergillus/Penicillium) will actually sporulate (explode) into the air as a defensive mechanism. This is verifiable via air sampling, both before and after bleach use, with simple air-o-cell cassette air sampling. So, the people who use bleach are inhaling the carcinogenic chlorine fumes, and at the same time likely getting a face full of mold spores. Those airborne spores are now going to get inhaled by you and anyone nearby, as well as find a new spot to grow. You might get lucky with bleach IF it's only on the surface, but anything beneath the surface (like on a porous surface) will not be treated. Bleach is not able to penetrate porous material (such as wood and drywall) and as such will leave a large amount of surface growth untreated. Whatever isn't treated below the surface will likely grow back, since you have now given it more water (as mentioned above). This is why surface growth usually returns over time.

IAQA

Indoor Air-Quality Assessments

 

The indoor environment in a building can result from a complex interaction between the building system, construction techniques, and various contaminant sources (originating inside or outside). Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) problems may arise from any one of these sources.

ERAtech's consultants will assess the subject structure via thorough walkthrough inspection, which may include: a thorough moisture assessment using Fluke and Flir thermal imaging technology (see next section) to discover potential moisture sources, specialized meters to measure moisture within building material, humidity monitoring, as well as helping to identify potential pollutant sources.

If further testing is recommended, ERAtech will collect air and surface samples to determine if microbial/fungal growth is an issue. Recommendations and suggestions will then be made for the successful mitigation of any IAQ problems found during our investigation.

Non-viable air and surface mold testing
Mold Air Sample
Thermal Imaging Moisture Scan
Moisture

Moisture Assessments

 

A thorough moisture assessment using Fluke thermal imaging technology can be utilized to discover potential moisture sources, such as hidden leaks in water pipes, roof leaks, foundation leaks, etc. ERAtech then follows-up with specialized meters to measure moisture within building materials, as well as measuring humidity.

Moisture Meter
Thermal Imaging Moisture Scan

Mycotoxins

 

Mycotoxins are toxic fungal products that are produced when fungi grow in human and animal foods. A large number of food and beverage items can be contaminated with mycotoxins. Exposure to mycotoxins causes disease in humans and animals. Recent studies have shown that mycotoxins are underappreciated as a cause of disease. Some mycotoxins can cross the placenta and are present in the fetus at birth and others are excreted in breast milk. Some mycotoxins cause neoplasia in humans and animals and others can cause kidney and neurological diseases. Besides food sources, mycotoxins can also be released by mold growth inside your home or business. ERAtech can help guide you and determine if you have an elevated level of mycotoxins in your body, and can then see if the source of exposure is your home. Here’s how:


Testing YOU: Testing for mycotoxins in humans is a simple and usually noninvasive procedure. In most cases, only a urine sample is required. Ohio and Indiana now allow patients to order their own lab tests directly without a doctor’s order, however, you can request this test through your physician. If mold or mycotoxins are found to be present, you should follow up with your healthcare professional to schedule a consultation to discuss treatment options. 


Testing your HOME: The EMMA test uses sensitive molecular detection technology to look for the presence of 10 of the most toxigenic molds as well as 16 of the most poisonous Mycotoxins using its patented Mycotoxin detection test. It determines their presence and determines their relative abundance. Testing is simple, only requiring small amounts of dust or material from HVAC filters (minimum 8 weeks in place).

Mycotoxins in Food
Air Filter
Myco
Bacteria Analysis
Bacteria

Bacteria In The Air

 

Bacteria are small single-celled organisms found almost everywhere on Earth. Some species can live under extreme conditions of temperature and pressure. The human body is full of bacteria, and in fact is estimated to contain more bacterial cells than human cells. Most bacteria in the body are harmless, and some are even helpful. A relatively small number of species cause disease. ERAtech can test your living and work spaces for bacterial contamination. Air sampling involves drawing a measured volume of air over culture media in petri dishes. Direct surface sampling using premoistened swabs is also an option. The petri dishes are incubated in the laboratory so the organisms impacted on the plate can grow. The bacteria are counted and identified and provide enumeration and identification of viable bacteria present in the air or surfaces.

Legionella (and other) Bacteria in Water Systems

 

According to the CDC, Legionnaires’ disease is caused by infection with Legionella bacteria. Legionella bacteria are found naturally in freshwater environments, like lakes and streams. The bacteria can become a health concern when they grow and spread in human-made building water systems like water-based fire suppression systems, showerheads, and sink faucets. After Legionella grows and multiplies in a building water system, water containing Legionella can spread in droplets small enough for people to breathe in.  Individuals who have an underlying illness or weakened immune system are most susceptible to Legionella infections. The elderly, those with chronic lung disease, smokers, and those with suppressed or compromised immune systems are most at risk for contracting the disease. However, relatively healthy individuals can be at risk of contracting the disease as well.

Common Sources of Infection include:

  • Water-based fire sprinkler systems

  • Cooling towers

  • Hot tubs

  • Decorative fountains and water features

  • Hot water tanks and heaters

  • Large, complex plumbing systems

 

The CDC says that home and car air-conditioning units do not use water to cool the air, so they are not a risk for Legionella growth. In general, people do not spread Legionnaires’ disease to other people. However, this may be possible under very rare circumstances.
 

Legionella
Ptable Water Testing fo bactera

VOC's (Volatile Organic Compounds)

 

Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) are a large group of chemicals found in many products we use to build and maintain our homes. They are released (off-gas) into the indoor air. They may or may not be able to be smelled, and smelling is not a good indicator of health risk. Common examples of VOCs that may be present in our daily lives are: benzene, ethylene glycol, formaldehyde, methylene chloride, tetrachloroethylene, toluene, xylene, and 1,3-butadiene.


The risk of health effects from inhaling any chemical depends on their quantity in the air and the exposure, or how long/often it is inhaled. Breathing in low levels of VOCs for long periods of time may increase some people’s risk of health problems. Several studies suggest that exposure to VOCs may make symptoms worse for people with asthma or who are particularly sensitive to chemicals. These are much different exposures than occupational exposures. It is important to remember that VOCs refer to a group of chemicals. Each chemical has its own toxicity and potential for causing different health effects.


Here is a SHORT list of items that can off-gas VOC’s: paint, varnishes, caulks, adhesives, expanding foam insulation, carpeting, vinyl flooring, composite wood products, upholstery and foam, cosmetics, cleaning products, air fresheners, dry cleaning, photocopiers, fuel oil, and gasoline. Through specialized air sampling, the specialists at ERAtech can determine if your space is being affected by chemical off-gassing. 

VOC Chemicals
VOC Sample
VOC
Mercury Vapor Testing
Mercury

Mercury Vapor From Rubber Flooring Systems

 

Typically, liquid polyurethane was poured directly over concrete sub-floors, and in some cases over a rubberized shock-absorbing cushion material. Certain formulations of polyurethane incorporated mercury catalysts, to produce a solid, seamless rubber-like floor. Depending on the required thickness of the floor, multiple pours of polyurethane were often employed.

 

Mercury-containing polyurethane floors were widely installed in school gymnasiums across the United States until being reportedly discontinued amid concerns over their emissions of elemental mercury vapor. However, depending on the type and brand of polyurethane flooring, these floors may have been installed even as late as 2006.

Mercury Gym Floor
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