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Mold Pollution

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Abstract:Mold pollution is the growth of molds in a building resulting in a negative impact on the use of that structure. The negative impacts generally fall into two categories: destruction of the structure itself and adverse health impacts on the building's occupants. It is estimated that about ten percent of U.S. buildings may suffer from mold pollution. This article will discuss mold and the impacts of molds on building and their occupants.

Molds (also known as fungi) are microorganisms that generaly have thread-like bodies and reproduce by producing spores (Figure 1). Spores are generally round or ovoid single cells (but in some cases multicellular), that are dispersed from the thread-like body of the mod called mycelium (pl. mycelia). Spores can be colorless or pigmented and vary in size from about one to fifteen microns. There are about fifty to one hundred different molds that are typically found growing indoors in water damaged buildings.

Water problems in buildings are generally the result of leaks from roofs or plumbing condensation, and flooding. When building materials or furnishings such as wood, drywall, ceiling tiles or carpets get wet, molds will grown on them. The types of substrates and the amount of moisture will often determine the kinds of molds that grow. For example, some molds like Stachybotrys require a highly water-saturated substrate. For other molds such as Aspergillus, only small amounts of excess moisture are required for growth. Thus, moisture control is key to controlling mold growth and eliminating their effects on the building's structure or the building occupants.
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Citation:Haugland, R. A., and S. J. Vesper. Mold Pollution.Richard M. Stapleton, Patricia Hemminger, Susan L. Senecah (ed.), Pollution A-Z. Thomson Gale, New York, NY, 2:52-54, (2003).
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Contact: Mary P. O'Bryant - (919)-541-4871 or obriant.mary@epa.gov
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Division: Microbiological & Chemical Exposure Assessment Division
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Branch: Microbial Exposure Research Branch
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Product Type: Book Chaptr
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Published: 10/01/2003
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Related Entries:
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Bullet Item Risk Assessment/Risk Management for Indoor Mold
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Last Updated on Monday, October 22, 2007
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