Fungi and Mold. Let’s learn more about it and the indoor environments we work and live in from a Indoor Air Quality perspective!
Mold grows everywhere because microbial spores are everywhere. We refer active mold spores in the air as “MVOC’s” or “Bioaerosols”. These are typically what causes an asthma or allergy reaction to the occupant(s) as well as the musty smell or in some cases a nasty undiagnosable smell. There are also inactive spores (particles) that will cause the same issues. They are looking for organic matter (food/ growing medium), moisture, and oxygen to grow. Unfortunately, we cannot control most of these factors especially in smaller, tighter envelopes such as office buildings, homes, apartments, long term care facilities, daycares, etc. but we can control the relative humidity. To diagnose and find active fungi issues that might require remediation, or a dehumidifying solution call Indoor Air Quality Associates.
Here are some contributing factors and relative humidity facts:
Moisture is released into the air from daily activities such as cooking, cleaning, laundry, showering, breathing, evaporative cooling (sweating or perspiring), etc. It is inevitable there will be signs of mold or fungi if this moisture is left unattended or not controlled.
Daily habits differ from person to person. For example, some choose not to run exhaust fans while cooking or showering. Others may not leave their residence often, while others cook all day. Some people choose to house many plants and/or aquariums. Some do not run their HVAC system because they prefer it warmer in temperature or to keep electricity cost at a minimum. The list of the whys and how people choose to live can go on and on, but the direct result of moisture accumulation and relative humidity remain the same. Too much of either leads to mold and fungi growth.
We are seeing an increase in mold growth due to tighter construction regulations. It is great to be energy efficient but as a result we are finding moisture cannot escape and newly constructed homes are unable to “breathe”. For example, high efficiency HVAC systems are much more efficient and run for short periods of time and the efficiency is engineered to perform on sensible load (the temperature) and does not provide enough extraction of the latent load (moisture) with our current energy standards of equipment (known as SEER). This is exceptional for HVAC systems, however as a result, moisture does not have an escape route and is not cycled out. Without a dehumidifier moisture remains trapped creating great conditions for mold and fungi to thrive.
Many codes are now requiring the introduction of “fresh” air from outside into residential new construction, and commercial buildings. While some days may have a relative humidity levels less than 60%, many days have a relative humidity outside much higher than 60%. Also, the ground releases moisture into the basements, crawlspaces, and pads (this is where most moisture comes). This moisture then is introduced the be building envelope where stack effect takes it up into the occupied space and is then trapped. By introducing this high humidity air into the occupied spaces, you are elevating the relative humidity in that space and increasing the opportunity for mold or fungi to grow.
Call Indoor Air Quality Associates today for testing, assessments, and solutions today!