Mold spores: What you need to know
Mold spores are tiny microscopic seeds that mold releases into the air for purposes of colonizing other areas. If any type of mold is present in our homes, there will be a much higher than average mold spore count in our living environments. Not only does this cause the fungus to spread, but when breathed in, it can trigger a wide range of allergic and sometimes even other more serious health-related issues. Here we will discuss their dangers, as well as how to detect, kill, and remove them from your home or work environment.
- Are mold spores dangerous?
- How do they get into our homes?
- What size are mold spores?
- How to detect them
- How to kill mold spores
- How to remove them
- How to prevent them
Are these spores dangerous to our health?
Most species produce spores that, at worst, cause and trigger allergic reactions such as throat and eye irritation, runny noses, skin rashes, and headaches.
On the other hand, a specific group of mold species, such as Stachybotrys chartarum, Aspergillus, Alternaria, and Penicillium, produces mold spores that are known as mycotoxins. These mycotoxins cause the same allergic reactions as the regular spores, but also pose much more serious long term health risks such as cancer, lung infections, immune deficiency, acute poisoning, and others.
What’s fascinating about this particular variety is that the type of material certain types of mold grow on determines whether or not it produces these mycotoxins. We will be looking at the two most dangerous types of mycotoxins in the next section.
Trichothecene: A known immune system suppressant commonly produced by both the Stachybotrys chartarum and Fusarium species. Interestingly, the T-2 trichothecene variety is used in some biological warfare weapons.
Aflatoxins: The Aspergillus species mostly produce these. Not only do aflatoxins pose a significant health threat as spores in our homes but also to our food crops. Read more about it on the World Health Organization website.
How do these spores found their way into our homes?
Most mold spores originate from outside our homes and find their way in through open windows, air conditioner systems, duct vents, and from being unknowingly carried in by humans and pets. Another source is food items left in the kitchen trash can for too long.
There will be a much higher than average mold spore count within your living environment if you currently have mold growing inside your home. Because they periodically release spores into the air to colonize other parts of the house.
What size are mold spores?
Mold spores are, on average, 10 – 100 microns in size. It’s tiny considering that 1 micron is a millionth of a meter. The chart below shows these spores in comparison to household dust, radioactive fallout, human hair, and beach sand.
How to detect them
If your allergies flare up when you’re at home or in a particular part of your house, then that’s usually a good indication that you have a hidden mold problem because spores have been released, and now an above-average amount is floating around.
In this scenario, you could call out a mold remediation company to come to inspect your home for hidden mold and for them to do a mold spore test. A more affordable option is to do your own testing with an airborne mold spore test kit.
How to kill mold spores
It’s important to know that killing mold spores only solves half the problem. Once dead, they will be unable to colonize and grow into mold – however, they still cause the same health issues when inhaled. Therefore, removing excessive amounts from your living environment is just as essential, if not even more so. First, we will discuss the various methods of killing spores.
How to kill mold spores on non-porous surfaces: Bleach is an excellent disinfectant and does a great job at killing mold spores on non-porous surfaces such as countertops, finished wood, tiles, and toilets. Learn more about how to use bleach here.
How to kill mold spores on porous surfaces: Porous surfaces are problematic compared to non-porous surfaces because the microscopic spores infiltrate the surface area through tiny cracks and holes. Bleach won’t do the trick here because its chemical structure makes it unable to penetrate such surfaces. A different cleaning solution, such as borax or white vinegar, should be used in this scenario.
How to kill mold spores on clothes and fabrics: When it comes to clothes and fabrics, wash it in the washing machine on the hottest setting. Certain types of material cannot be washed on such a hot setting, and if this is the case, put it on the warm setting and add any of these cleaning solutions.
How to kill mold spores in hard to reach places and general areas: Hard to reach places can include the inside of vents, air conditioner units, and attics while general areas are any open areas such as bedrooms or living rooms, which have a higher than average mold spore count. A mold bomb fogger is ideal for both such places. An ozone generator is another option worth considering.
How to remove mold spores
As mentioned, killing mold spores only solves half the problem because they still have to be removed. So how do you get rid of something so microscopically small you cannot see? The answer is HEPA filtered devices. We will show you how to grab them out of the air and how to remove them from the surfaces they landed on.
How to remove airborne mold spores: Once airborne, they become a real problem for people and pets because that is when they get breathed in and start wreaking havoc on our health. Fresh air circulation is vital, but to effectively remove most of them, you will need an air purifier. Not an ordinary one, instead only a high-efficiency particulate air purifier will do the trick because they have filters which remove contaminants as small as 0,03 microns in size.
How to remove mold spores from surface areas: Spores can settle on any surface area such as carpets, bedding, clothes, etc. A standard vacuum cleaner lacks the power to suck most of them up, and even those they do get will pass right through the system and be re-released into your home. A high-efficiency particulate air vacuum cleaner has the suction power and filters to capture these spores and prevent them from being re-released.
How to prevent mold spores from entering your home
Are you ready for the bad news? Completely eliminating mold spores from the home is virtually impossible. The good news is that it’s possible to lower their amounts to the extent that they won’t be a problem.
As mentioned, regularly running a HEPA air purifier and cleaning with a HEPA filtered vacuum cleaner is more than ideal. Also, make sure to take the kitchen trash out on a very regular basis to prevent moldy food from releasing spores and inspect your home for any hidden mold.
If living in a humid environment, then regulating your indoor humidity levels with a dehumidifier will drastically reduce the chances of mold formation too.
One could take it a step further and fit duct vents and air conditioner units with HEPA filters to further minimize the chances of spores entering the home.