Mold and Mildew, what’s the difference?

MildewI would like to explain the difference between mold and mildew. Exciting, I know.  Mildew is the staining or discoloration left behind from the process of digestion by mold. You will sometimes find this on your shower caulking or window sills.

As we digest internally, mold digests externally. Mold growth is dependent upon moisture content, substrate (drywall or preferable cellulose media) and temperature. Some substrates such as caulking or other synthetic materials do not allow for mold to fully digest. So, it partially digests the material, leaving behind the staining or discoloration commonly known as mildew. With sage advice from the common competitor, “If you can smear it, then it’s mold.”

Mold on your window sill?

Window sill moisture and moldMold on your window sill is usually indicative of excessive moisture issues within the structure. Given proper temperature (most commonly 68-86 degrees), substrate (porous carbon based matter/wallboard) and moisture (60% relative humidity) mold can begin to grow. Mold can grow on a substrate as minute as biofilm (very thin layer of organic matter/ex. dust). Relative humidity tells us how “wet” or “dry” the air is. As air is warmed, it expands and its relative humidity decreases, because warmer air can hold more moisture. Conversely, as air is cooled, it shrinks and its relative humidity increases. Cool surfaces reduce the temperature of nearby air. If air is cooled enough that its humidity reaches 100 percent, condensation occurs. Mold growth usually occurs on surfaces that remain wet or damp for prolonged periods of time.

So, keep an eye out for “sweaty” windows and the mold growth that may occur therein. Also, it should be said, installing dual pane or insulate windows will only differ your moisture issues. Call us, it may be easier than you think.

How Much Mold Can Someone Really Be Exposed To?

Naturally occurring biological materials such as mold, fungi, and/or pollen are not regulated by any government agency.  Currently mold, pollen and/or fungi have no established Threshold limit value (TLV). Threshold limit values (TLVs) are guidelines established by the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH). TLVs refer to airborne concentrations of substances, and represent conditions under which it is believed that nearly all workers may be repeatedly exposed without adverse health effects.

Current industry practice suggests that differentiation of indoor to outdoor air sample analysis may indicate a degradation of indoor air quality. Outside air samples (control samples) are taken as comparison to inside air samples. Inside spore counts should be lower than that of outside spore counts. Somewhat barbaric once you consider the fact that weather, timing, methodology, media and location heavily skew the end result.

So, the amount of mold you or I can be exposed to before experiencing an adverse health effect is dependent upon your own disposition. Which raises the question, is the general mold test subjective? Yes, it is. It is the interpretation of results compounded with visual evidence and moisture readings that creates positive correlation. You may save money by finding the cheapest testing company, but you may want to consider if that money has in fact been wasted on numbers without reason.