MoldMold Facts

Mold has become a major source of concern related to health in the indoor environment. Molds are an important part of the natural environment and have been around for a long time. They are classified as part of the kingdom fungi being neither plant nor animal but a little of both and their role is to decompose dead organic matter such as fallen trees and dead leaves. There are approximately 150,000 types of molds and they are present everywhere in the indoor and outdoor environment. Molds reproduce by means of tiny spores, which will grow where there is sufficient moisture and food (organic materials such as paper, wood, cellulose, etc.).  In the indoor environment, mold growth is a symptom of a water problem. It can cause structural damage by decomposing wood, drywall, carpeting and other porous building materials.

Health Effects

The presence of mold does not present a health risk in most cases.  Airborne mold spores are a common allergen. Individuals with allergies to certain types of mold may exhibit allergic symptoms such as sneezing, runny nose, upper respiratory irritation, cough and eye irritation. Exposure to excessive amounts of mold can also cause an increase in the frequency or severity of asthma symptoms. If you suspect you or someone in your family may be experiencing health symptoms because of exposure to mold, you should contact your health care provider to receive diagnosis and treatment.

Mold Testing

In most cases, if visible mold growth is present, sampling is unnecessary. Mold sampling is not recommended for the following reasons:

What about Black Mold or Stachybotrys?

Recently, there has been heightened concern regarding exposure to a specific type of mold commonly referred to as black or toxic mold. Currently there is no conclusive scientific evidence linking the inhalation of black mold spores or any type of mold in the indoor environment to any illness other than the previously described allergy symptoms.  The term “toxic” is an inaccurate description of this mold.  There are many common molds that are black in color.

If you see mold growing in your home, the most important thing to remember is not to panic.  You do not have to leave your home or belongings behind or destroy everything in the house.  Instead, seek the help of someone who is knowledgeable and experienced in dealing with mold. Contact your local public health agency or state health department for more information on mold.

Mold Cleanup

Professional cleaners or remediators may use methods not covered in this publication. Please note that mold may cause staining and cosmetic damage. It may not be possible to clean an item so that its original appearance is restored.

Protecting Yourself During Mold Cleanup

Before starting your cleanup process, make sure you have the proper equipment and take precautions to protect yourself.

Tips and Techniques for Mold Cleanup

While much has been written about mold cleanup, the simplest advice is still the best; Control the Moisture, Control the Mold. Without moisture, mold will not grow. With sufficient moisture, mold will keep coming back no matter how many times it is cleaned up.

Take the following steps when mold is spotted or suspected:

Consult "A Brief Guide to Mold, Moisture, and Your Home" for more detailed information.

Information on schools or commercial buildings can be found in, "Mold Remediation in Schools and Commercial Buildings."

Mold and Rental Situations

  1. Consult the Missouri Landlord Tenant Law to understand your rights.
  2. Fix the problem if possible.  See the above Tips and Techniques for Mold Cleanup for recommendations.
  3. If the problem is something that has to be fixed by the landlord, send a letter in writing to your landlord describing the nature of your complaint and keep a copy of the letter. If the rental is managed by an agency such as Housing and Urban Development or the Rural Housing Administration, be sure to contact that agency. If your doctor made specific recommendations regarding your living environment, be sure to include those statements.
  4. If the landlord refuses to address the issue, you may find some assistance through local city hall or housing authority regarding local building codes, nuisance ordinances, or tenant codes. The codes will vary across Missouri from city to city and county to county. The codes do not address mold or the health effects from mold. You should discuss the code violations that exist and promote mold ggrowth, such as: faulty plumbing, construction and ventilation issues, leaky roofs, growndwater infiltration due to improper site placement, improper lumber selection, etc.
  5. If no assistance is available locally you may consider contacting an attorney.
  6. In some situations, moving may be the final option to protect the health of you and your family.
  7. Consult with an attorney to consider placing language in your next rental contract guaranteeing the quality of your indoor environment.