When you hear the word mold, you probably don’t think about the many benefits of this tiny organism. Instead, you probably think about mold growth in your bathroom, garage or basement and the dreaded task of cleaning it.
To be fair, household mold is dangerous. It can cause breathing problems and allergic reactions in people with mold sensitivity, but mold really isn’t a good environment for anyone to live in for an extended time before mold remediation. Living in a home with mold can cause respiratory infections, chronic headaches, insomnia, and depression.
But there are some ways mold can be used to our advantage. Going forward, we will look at both the good and bad types of mold.
Good Mold vs. Bad Mold
All mold is potentially dangerous when you breathe the spores. However, certain types of mold can be grown in a clinical environment and used to produce useful – and even delicious – things.
What is Good Mold?
Mold can be used to make a medicine that we have depended on for 100+ years: penicillin. Penicillin was mass produced starting around 1948 due to a great need for an antibiotic for WWII soldiers.
Lovastatin is a cholesterol medicine made from mold. It is used to lower the LDL, or bad cholesterol. Another medicine created from mold is cyclosporine. This medication is given to organ transplant recipients to reduce the risk of rejection. It is also used as a treatment for some autoimmune diseases.
Mold is also used in the production of certain cheeses, the most common being blue cheese. To make these cheeses, different processes are used which encourage mold growth. Penicillium (the same mold used to make the antibiotic penicillin) is often found in blue cheese, so people with penicillin allergies should consume blue cheese with caution.
Fresh, moist cheeses like ricotta and mozzarella should not be eaten if they have mold on them, but with hard cheeses like a block of cheddar, the lower moisture content means you can cut away the moldy spot and still enjoy the cheese safely.
What is Bad Mold?
Mold is considered bad when it grows in your home or business and puts you at risk of sickness. Scientifically, mold is classified into 3 different categories:
- Allergenic – Allergenic molds cause allergic reactions in people with specific mold allergies, but they can also produce a reaction in people who do not have allergies if the mold concentration is high enough.
- Pathogenic – Pathogenic mold is more likely to cause sickness, even in healthy people. These mold varieties can also lead to infections in the respiratory system and skin.
- Toxic – Toxic mold is highly dangerous for humans and animals, even in small amounts.
Although these different classifications are recognized by the CDC, the organization’s official stance is that all mold poses enough of a health risk that it should be removed, regardless of type.
Some of the most common household molds include aspergillus, cladosporium, and stachybotrys atra (AKA black mold). Exposure to indoor mold can lead to respiratory reactions like coughing, sneezing, shortness of breath and wheezing.
More severe reactions include lowered immune system function, insomnia, digestive issues, and even depression. The risk of these reactions is the reason behind the CDC’s advisement that no mold should be considered ‘safe’ and the organization’s recommendation to have any type or amount of mold removed from your home.
So, when it comes to good vs. bad mold, that concept must be framed within the context of where the mold is developing and how it is being used.
The only time mold can be considered good is when it is being grown and harvested carefully, then put to work in a very specific context. Mold growth in a home or business is bad news and needs to be taken care of as soon as it is discovered.
Pure Maintenance of Central Illinois Mold Services
The biggest reason homes develop mold is poor ventilation. When air is allowed to circulate throughout a home using open windows or the home’s HVAC system, mold spores exit much the same way and with about the same frequency as they enter.
To know for sure if you have mold, it’s always best to have professional mold testing done by Pure Maintenance of Central Illinois. Times when you definitely need to have testing done include the following situations:
- When you are buying a home
This is especially true if the house has been closed up while it has been on the market. The lack of ventilation in a home that is sealed, not being lived in, is the reason mold develops in these properties.
Aside from that no one is in the house daily to look for signs of mold, so the problem may go unnoticed for weeks or longer. Before you buy a home, you should have an up-to-date mold inspection.
- If you smell classic mold odors
Mold smells musty. Some people describe it as earthy. If you can’t seem to get rid of a musty, old house smell in your home, mold may be the culprit.
A visual inspection alone won’t always be sufficient for locating mold in your home. Most homeowners don’t really know what they are looking for in terms of the beginning stages of mold, only identifying it when it’s too late.
It usually takes a dual effort from mold experts of testing mold levels along with a skilled visual inspection to identify mold and come up with an effective plan to remove it.
- After flooding or leaks
If your home experiences any type of flooding or leaks, you should have your home tested for mold. Mold is very common after flooding because the excess moisture gives mold spores the perfect place to land take root.
In addition to repairing water damage, you may have mold removal or mold remediation to take care of after these events. The sooner you take action, the less expensive the repairs will be, and the less risk the water and mold will hold for your family.