Mold is a part of nature and shares the same power as most “forces” of nature like the hurricane, tornado, and flood! Mold is eating everything that it grows on. If you have mold in the corner of your bathroom, it is feeding on the organic material within that corner.
Mold reproduces with spores that are released from every viable mold cell. These spores are omnipresent, meaning you can’t get rid of them completely because they are everywhere. When mold releases these microscopic spores into the air, the spores travel everywhere on just the slightest breeze or even minute air currents.
These spores will “stick” to anything moist. That makes sense if you think about it. So mold spores are carried around by natural and un-natural air currents. They stick to anything moist, so nature does a very efficient job of spreading mold spores all around.
Mold feeds on anything and everything organic. The list of what it doesn’t feed on is by far shorter than the huge list that it does feed on. For instance, mold doesn’t feed on plastic. Plastic is inorganic.
Once mold has landed on a moist organic surface, it begins to grow and feed on that material. How does it eat? Well, as the human stomach is on the inside of us and digests our food, mold digests its food on the outside. So anything it grows on it is digesting!
Thinking of mold with an outside stomach makes it seem to be an alien from outerspace that is trying to invade our planet and that is exactly right. Except that it is not an alien it is a native and natural force.
The now thriving mold then reproduces by releasing spores to the air currents that surround it. A quick one line reproduction cycle looks like this:
mold spore – air current – moist food source – mold – mold spore
Mold’s Purpose in Nature
Pretend that all humans disappeared from the face of the earth over night. Not one of us remains. What would happen?
Over the course of about 200 years, there wouldn’t be any visible signs of anything man-made. Bridges, buildings, dams, houses, pavement, and everything else would be gone. How? By natural forces.
First, any remaining wild life would soon invade everything. They would go about their daily business establishing shelter and searching for food. Anyone who has had raccoons in the attic can appreciate this.
Along with animals, plant life would begin to over grow everything. Look at the power of the little weeds that grow through your driveway! Trees would grow, fall, and tear down houses in the process. All the plant kingdom would just do what it does naturally – Survive!
Mold would be an integral part of the deterioration of the human presence. It would attack every structure – just look at New Orleans that is over grown with mold even after a year since the hurricane disasters. Mold’s main purpose in nature is to naturally breakdown organic matter. The organic matter is then rendered to dust. Sounds rather biblical, doesn’t it?
Mold would not only thrive on the man made structures, but with forests beginning to reclaim the earth, mold would thrive within decomposing organic matter, just as it is designed to do.
Of course metal would rust and fall apart. Concrete would succumb to natural forces such as the forest moving in, earthquakes, winds, rain, and you name your “natural” disaster. The earth would reclaim everything, until there is no sign that humans ever existed.
Mold In Your Home
Mold within your home goes about its natural business just as described in the previous sections. There is one man made phenomenon – homes allow mold spores to collect in alarming quantities!
Why do homes allow mold to grow better than outside? It’s because homes don’t allow the mold spores to disperse outside of their walls very easily. Homes are becoming more and more “air tight” and don’t have natural air currents to float the mold spores away.
Outside is a vast domain and is difficult to measure. Whereas, your 1200 square foot home with eight foot ceilings has a very finite definition. The volume of this house is 1200 X 8 = 9,600 cubic feet. Guess how many cubic feet are outside – if you come up with an answer let me know because I’ll make you famous!
Your home’s mold colonies produce spores, that produce mold, that produce more mold spores, and so on. The levels within your home can soar well above the outdoor natural levels. That is the basis of the problem. More and more mold spores get trapped within that 9,600 cubic feet and keep doing what they do – digest organic matter!
With an elevated quantity of mold spores within a home, not only does mold growth become a problem, but health issues can arise. The mold that you can see with the naked eye is not one mold cell. It’s 1000’s of mold cells making up a colony. These colonies go about their natural business of decomposing whatever they grow on.
Also many mold symptoms are caused by the mold spores that you are breathing. If you haven’t taken appropriate measures by eliminating mold, then your health will continue to erode.
Cleaning up the mold is a key to decreasing the mold contamination within your home. By keeping everything as clean and dry as possible, you will go a long way to reducing the number of mold spores floating around within your home. But keep in mind that the mold you see is often just the tip of the iceberg.
If you are showing signs of mold health problems, then you really need to get serious about how you are getting rid of mold in your home. You need to find out more information on how to destroy mold and keep it at bay. You must make some wise decisions with how you clean it up and how you keep it away. By learning how to control mold you will greatly improve your health.
Howard Doughman, MBA
Former Director Environmental Services
St. Francis Hospital of Evanston
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