What does Mold smell like?

Some compounds produced by molds have strong smells and are volatile and quickly released into the air.  These compounds are known as microbial volatile organic compounds (mVOCs).  Because mVOCs often have strong or unpleasant odors, they can be the source of the "moldy odor" or musty smell frequently associated with mold growth.  A moldy odor suggests that mold is growing in the building and should be investigated.  The health effects of inhaling mVOCs are largely unknown, although exposure to mVOCs has been linked to symptoms such as headaches, nasal irritation, dizziness, fatigue, and nausea.  More research is needed to determine whether there are any human health effects from non-occupational indoor exposures to mVOCs.

What does FAQ stand for?

FAQ is an initialism for "Frequently Asked Question(s)". The term refers to listed questions and answers, all supposed to be frequently asked in some context, and pertaining to a particular topic. Since the acronym originated in textual media, itspronunciation varies; both "fak" and "F.A.Q." are commonly heard. Depending on usage, the term may refer specifically to a single frequently-asked question, or to an assembled list of many questions and their answers.

What are the ten things I need to know about Mold?

  • The key to mold control is moisture control.
  • If mold is a problem in your home, you should clean up the mold promptly and fix the water problem.
  • It is important to dry water-damaged areas and items within 24-48 hours to prevent mold growth.

 Ten Things You Should Know About Mold

  1. Potential health effects and symptoms associated with mold exposures include allergic reactions, asthma, and other respiratory complaints.  
  2. There is no practical way to eliminate all mold and mold spores in the indoor environment; the way to control indoor mold growth is to control moisture.
  3. If mold is a problem in your home or school, you must clean up the mold and eliminate sources of moisture.
  4. Fix the source of the water problem or leak to prevent mold growth.
  5. Reduce indoor humidity (to 30-60% ) to decrease mold growth by: venting bathrooms, dryers, and other moisture-generating sources to the outside; using air conditioners and de-humidifiers; increasing ventilation; and using exhaust fans whenever cooking, dishwashing, and cleaning.
  6. Clean and dry any damp or wet building materials and furnishings within 24-48 hours to prevent mold growth.
  7. Clean mold off hard surfaces with water and detergent, and dry completely. Absorbent materials such as ceiling tiles, that are moldy, may need to be replaced.
  8. Prevent condensation: Reduce the potential for condensation on cold surfaces (i.e., windows, piping, exterior walls, roof, or floors) by adding insulation.
  9. In areas where there is a perpetual moisture problem, do not install carpeting (i.e., by drinking fountains, by classroom sinks, or on concrete floors with leaks or frequent condensation).
  10. Molds can be found almost anywhere; they can grow on virtually any substance, providing moisture is present. There are molds that can grow on wood, paper, carpet, and foods.


What are the origins of the FAQ?

While the name may be recent, the FAQ format itself is quite old. For instance, Matthew Hopkins wrote The Discovery of Witches in 1647 in FAQ format. He introduces it as "Certaine Queries answered," ... Many old catechisms are in a question and answer format. The newspaper "help" columns of "Ann Landers" and "Dear Abby" can be considered in the style of the Q&A format.

What are the Health Effects of Asbestos Exposure?

Exposure to airborne friable asbestos may result in a potential health risk because persons breathing the air may breathe in asbestos fibers.  Continued exposure can increase the amount of fibers that remain in the lung.  Fibers embedded in lung tissue over time may cause serious lung diseases including: asbestosis, lung cancer, or mesothelioma.  The risk of lung cancer and mesothelioma increases with the number of fibers inhaled.  The risk of lung cancer from inhaling asbestos fibers is also greater if you smoke.  Smoking increases the risk of developing illness from asbestos exposure.  People who get asbestosis have usually been exposed to high levels of asbestos for a long time.  The symptoms of these diseases do not usually appear until about 20 to 30 years after the first exposure to asbestos.  Most people exposed to small amounts of asbestos, as we all are in our daily lives, do not develop these health problems.  However, if disturbed, asbestos material may release asbestos fibers, which can be inhaled into the lungs.  The fibers can remain there for a long time, increasing the risk of disease.  Asbestos material that would crumble easily if handled, or that has been sawed, scraped, or sanded into a powder, is more likely to create a health hazard.  If you are concerned about possible exposure, consult a physician who specializes in lung diseases (pulmonologist). 
Three of the major health effects associated with asbestos exposure include:  
Asbestosis – Asbestosis is a serious, progressive, long-term non-cancer disease of the lungs.  It is caused by inhaling asbestos fibers that irritate lung tissues and cause the tissues to scar.  The scarring makes it hard for oxygen to get into the blood. Symptoms of asbestosis include shortness of breath and a dry, crackling sound in the lungs while inhaling.  There is no effective treatment for asbestosis.
Lung Cancer – Lung cancer causes the largest number of deaths related to asbestos exposure.  People who work in the mining, milling, manufacturing of asbestos, and those who use asbestos and its products are more likely to develop lung cancer than the general population.  The most common symptoms of lung cancer are coughing and a change in breathing.  Other symptoms include shortness of breath, persistent chest pains, hoarseness, and anemia.
Mesothelioma – Mesothelioma is a rare form of cancer that is found in the thin lining (membrane) of the lung, chest, abdomen, and heart and almost all cases are linked to exposure to asbestos.  This disease may not show up until many years after asbestos exposure.  This is why great efforts are being made to prevent school children from being exposed.


What are Pellets?

Pellets are carbon dioxide in solid form shaped into small particles about the size of grains of rice.

Should I use Bleach to clean up Mold?

Biocides are substances that can destroy living organisms.  The use of a chemical or biocide that kills organisms such as mold (chlorine bleach, for example) is not recommended as a routine practice during mold cleanup.  There may be instances, however, when professional judgment may indicate its use (for example, when immune-compromised individuals are present).  In most cases, it is not possible or desirable to sterilize an area; a background level of mold spores will remain - these spores will not grow if the moisture problem has been resolved.  If you choose to use disinfectants or biocides, always ventilate the area and exhaust the air to the outdoors.  Never mix chlorine bleach solution with other cleaning solutions or detergents that contain ammonia because toxic fumes could be produced. 
Please note: Dead mold may still cause allergic reactions in some people, so it is not enough to simply kill the mold, it must also be removed.


Should I have the air ducts in my building cleaned?

You should consider having the air ducts in your building cleaned if:

There is substantial visible mold growth inside hard surface (e.g., sheet metal) ducts or on other components of your heating and cooling system. There are several important points to understand concerning mold detection in heating and cooling systems:

  • Many sections of your heating and cooling system may not be accessible for a visible inspection, so ask the service provider to show you any mold they say exists.
  • You should be aware that although a substance may look like mold, a positive determination of whether it is mold or not can be made only by an expert and may require laboratory analysis for final confirmation.  For about $50, some microbiology laboratories can tell you whether a sample sent to them on a clear strip of sticky household tape is mold or simply a substance that resembles it.
  • If you have insulated air ducts and the insulation gets wet or moldy it cannot be effectively cleaned and should be removed and replaced.
  • If the conditions causing the mold growth in the first place are not corrected, mold growth will recur.


Is there a medical test to show whether I've been exposed to Lead?

A blood test is available to measure the amount of lead in your blood and to estimate the amount of your recent exposure to lead. Blood tests are commonly used to screen children for lead poisoning.  Lead in teeth or bones can be measured by X-ray techniques, but these methods are not widely available.  Exposure to lead also can be evaluated by measuring erythrocyte protoporphyrin (EP) in blood samples.  EP is a part of red blood cells known to increase when the amount of lead in the blood is high.  However, the EP level is not sensitive enough to identify children with elevated blood lead levels below about 25 micrograms per deciliter (μg/dL).  These tests usually require special analytical equipment that is not available in a doctor's office.  However, your doctor can draw blood samples and send them to appropriate laboratories for analysis.

Is testing or sampling of Mold necessary?

In most cases, if visible mold growth is present, sampling is unnecessary.
Since no EPA or other federal limits have been set for mold or mold spores, sampling cannot be used to check a building's compliance with federal mold standards.  Surface sampling may be useful to determine if an area has been adequately cleaned or remediated.  Sampling for mold should be conducted by professionals who have specific experience in designing  mold sampling protocols, sampling methods, and interpreting results.  Sample analysis should follow analytical methods recommended by the American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA), the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH), or other professional organizations.


Is Lead more dangerous for children than adults?

Yes, Lead is more dangerous to children because:  Babies and young children often put their hands and other objects in their mouths.  These objects can have lead dust on them.  Children's growing bodies absorb more lead.  Children's brains and nervous systems are more sensitive to the damaging effects of lead.

Is Lead harmful to adults?

Yes, There can be reproductive problems (in both men and women).  Also, high blood pressure, hypertension, nerve disorders,  memory and concentration problems, muscle and joint pain could arise from exposure to Lead.

How should a Air Duct system be cleaned?

The most effective way to clean air ducts and ventilation systems is to employ Source Removal methods of cleaning.  This requires a contractor to place the system under negative pressure, through the use of a specialized, powerful vacuum.  While the vacuum draws air through the system, devices are inserted into the ducts to dislodge any debris that might be stuck to interior surfaces.  The debris can then travel down the ducts to the vacuum, which removes it from the system and the home.

How quickly can various objects/materials be cleaned?

The speed at which cleaning can be performed is highly dependent on the type of coating, the nature of the underlying material, the temperature of the object to be treated, the air volume etc.  To evaluate these factors, tests must be carried out in the actual situation.

How often should Air Duct systems be cleaned?

Frequency of cleaning depends on several factors, not the least of which is the preference of the home owner. Some of the things that may lead a home owner to consider more frequent cleaning include:
• Smokers in the household.
• Pets that shed high amounts of hair and dander.
• Water contamination or damage to the home or HVAC system.
• Residents with allergies or asthma who might benefit from a reduction in the amount of indoor air pollutants in the home’s HVAC system.
• After home renovations or remodeling.
• Prior to occupancy of a new home.


How might I be exposed to Lead?

  • Eating food or drinking water that contains lead.  Water pipes in some older homes may contain lead solder.  Lead can leach out into the water. 
  • Spending time in areas where lead-based paints have been used and are deteriorating.  Deteriorating lead paint can contribute to lead dust. 
  • Working in a job where lead is used or engaging in certain hobbies in which lead is used, such as making stained glass. 
  • Using health-care products or folk remedies that contain lead.