Learn how mold spores adversely affect indoor air quality and why commercial office buildings, retail stores and personal residences require quality air filtration to reduce the risk from mold.
Mold is almost every home or business owner’s biggest nightmare. The very thought of it can send them to the store for the sole purpose of buying an air filter to remove mold spores from the air.
To learn more about Camfil air filters for mold spores, get in touch with Camfil USA.
Mold is a type of fungus that occurs naturally in almost any environment. Outdoors, mold is a microorganism that plays a critical role in decomposing dead organic matter such as fallen leaves and dead trees. In indoor environments, however, mold growth should be discouraged.
Mold reproduces through tiny microscopic spores. Unfortunately, almost every house or indoor environment has mold spores—it’s nearly impossible to keep mold out of the house. Mold becomes an issue, however, when the concentration of spores inside a home or building is greater than concentrations outside. This unbalanced ratio could mean that the environment inside the house is turning into the ideal environment for mold growth.
“Ideally mold needs three conditions to grow: moisture, food source, and the right temperature,” explained Greg Herman, National Accounts Manager at Camfil USA. “It’s why mold is pretty common in home basements, and out of the way spaces in commercial office buildings and retail facilities which tend to be cool, damp, and full of dust and dirt, which mold spores feed on.”
The problem is that the temperatures most people find comfortable are also ideal for mold growth. And when it comes to their food source, it’s practically impossible to eradicate all dust and dirt in a facility or home. The solution, then, is to remove moisture from the equation—although there are many types of mold, none of them will grow without moisture.
But what exactly makes mold so dangerous to people?
Impact of Mold on Indoor Air Quality
Different types of mold such as allergenic mold, toxic mold, and black mold among others, are always in the air we breathe, especially in indoor environments. At low levels, however, mold and mold spores are relatively harmless and rarely affect indoor air quality.
But when mold and mold spore concentrations rise, they can affect people with allergies, asthma, respiratory issues, or weak immune systems. When left unchecked, molds can thrive in dark and humid areas, such as closets, bathrooms, even within furniture or under cushions. These ideal areas for growth are not found only in homes, but in office buildings, retail stores or industrial facilities as well. When these places and objects are disturbed, they can release mold spores into the air that, when inhaled by residents, customers or employees, can lodge themselves in the airways of the upper respiratory tract and even deep in the lungs.
When this happens, a number of things can occur.
“People react differently to mold, so you could have nothing more than itchy eyes, sneezing, or coughing,” said Greg Herman. “But for others, inhaling mold can lead to full-blown asthma attacks and anaphylaxis, a severe allergic reaction that can suffocate victims.”
Common reasons to suspect the presence of mold inside your home, office, or building include:
- You are sneezing, coughing, or have watery eyes and nose inside, but not outside.
- You are aware of a water problem such as flooding, broken plumbing, or a hole in the roof.
- There is a significant amount of condensation in the room or building, perhaps caused by air conditioning reacting with warm air outside.
Your first instinct may be to look for signs of mold growth, but there’s usually a better telltale sign.
Moldy Smell Means It’s Time to Upgrade Your HVAC System’s Air Filters or Consider Stand-Alone Room Air Purifiers.
Sometimes, a mold problem is quickly identified by smell, not sight. The process of mold “feeding” on dirt, dust, and other debris for nutrients creates different chemical reactions that involve enzymes and substrates that, in turn, produce water, carbon dioxide, and volatile organic compounds (VOCs). When you smell that musty odor associated with molds, it’s the VOCs produced by mold that you smell, not the mold itself.
When it comes to mold growth, there are many types of VOCs being produced, including alcohols, aldehydes and hydrocarbons among others. VOCs are volatile because of how they quickly evaporate at room temperature and pressure. Unfortunately, VOCs only add another layer to the dangerous nature of mold, irritating the mucus membranes and both directly and indirectly causing medical issues.
Best Home Air Filtration Solution for Mold
Air filters with high capture efficiency can be a great help for people who are sensitive to mold. These filters purify the air by removing most mold spores, along with other allergens like pollen, dander, and dust, preventing them from circulating in the air. By capturing mold spores, air filters help prevent the spread of mold.
Mold spores come in many sizes but are generally greater than 1 micron in diameter. Air filters rated Merv 13/13A using ASHRAE’s standard 52.2 with Appendix J are constructed to capture 90% of particles 1 micron and larger. Even air filters with ratings of Merv 9/9A will offer some level of protection. These filters can be installed in current HVAC systems or into stand-alone room air purification systems that target specific areas.
Molecular filters, often referred to as carbon filters, are often suggested to control mold. However, care must be taken because molecular filters target the VOCs that produce the moldy-musty odor. It’s possible to mask a mold problem by removing the odor and assume the mold is under control when it is not.
Other Measures Against Mold Aside from High Efficiency Air Filters.
Aside from using higher efficiency air filters to capture and remove airborne mold spores, the EPA recommends the following tips and methods for removing mold at home, some of which apply to business facilities as well.
- Replacing carpeting in moisture-prone areas, such as bathrooms, with tile or linoleum
- Cleaning bathrooms and shower stalls regularly using disinfectants specifically designed for mold removal
- Switching on the bathroom’s exhaust fan when showering, as well as the fan in the kitchen when cooking
- Using a dehumidifier during the summer months or any other times when indoor humidity goes over 50 percent
- Drying clothes thoroughly before storing them in dressers or closets
- Using paints that specifically discourage mold growth
- Conducting regular maintenance of pipes and plumbing
- Repairing water leaks in the basement as soon as they begin
- Repairing gutters and downspouts that cause water to pool near the foundation of your home
It’s important to understand that filters only capture mold spores and the gases produced by mold as they grow. Purifiers are not able to kill mold that’s already growing on surfaces. The only way to remove mold is through routine cleaning and preventing moisture from creating the ideal environment for mold to grow.
Choosing Air Purification Systems for Mold
At the same time, merely cleaning up traces of mold is just half of the solution. You also want to remove mold spores to discourage other infestations and to keep everyone living in the house or patronizing your business safe. The very act of removing mold from surfaces can cause mold spores to become airborne, only making higher capture efficiency filters or stand-alone air purification systems more necessary. And if your home or business is frequently visited by people who are likely susceptible to mold spores, such as an infant, elderly person, or someone with existing respiratory problems, higher quality air filters can make a world of difference in their homelife or visit to your business.
We specialize in designing air filters for all kinds of particulate matter, including mold, pet dander, dust, and pollen. We also carry a wide range of air filters for schools, hospitals, and manufacturing facilities among others. Talk to the Camfil USA or explore our catalog of home air filters to learn more about our product line.