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How Lab-tested Mold-resistant Materials are Leading to Healthier Homes

Just hearing the word “mold” can conjure a range of negative feelings, and for good reason. As is often the case with termites, roaches, wasps, rodents, and even rust, mold can be invasive, unsightly, odorous, and cost a bundle in home damages. If left untreated, research also shows excessive mold growth may carry significant risks to health and happiness. Gladly, building material manufacturers are aware of the risks and take steps to make sure their products resist the growth of fungi.

 

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Although mold and other fungi play an essential role as nature’s nutrient recyclers, they can be a menace when allowed to grow in homes and workplaces. Due in part to a growing public awareness and concern over the matter of indoor mold, especially with respect to children, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) commissioned a large study to investigate the relationship between dampness, mold, and associated adverse health outcomes. The product of this effort was a comprehensive literary review published in 2004 titled “Damp Indoor Spaces and Health.” The goal of the study was to align the scientific community under common language and provide a useful set of guidelines for improving research and communications between institutions and the public. It is now generally accepted that exposure to mold and other microbes can lead to a host of medical conditions; both physiological and psychological.
   

Homeowners can experience a range of physical ailments associated with mold including slight eye or skin irritation to allergies, asthma, toxicosis, and severe infections. However, as the CDC notes, to date the relationship between mold in the home and physical health is tenuous since no direct links between specific fungi and their underlying pathologies have been discovered.
   

There are also psychological effects associated with visible mold in the home. Much like insects, mold can reproduce quickly. The mere sight of it sometimes signals a larger problem, which may be hard to address. Stress related to mold leaves some homeowners feeling like they have no control over their living space. This can be devastating to a person's well-being even if the direct impact to their physical health is minimal or non-existent.
   

So what are the best ways to address being exposed to mold causing fungi? According to the EPA and the CDC, the most straightforward way to reduce the impact of mold on human life is to control localized moisture or dampness, humidity in the air, and the amount of dead or decaying material on surfaces. However, this is not practical in all facilities or parts of a home since it is impossible to exclude water and organic material from all surfaces. This is true because many of the household and architectural products we have come to rely on are themselves capable of sustaining fungal growth and some areas of a home are going to experience dampness.
   

To solve both the public health and material-related costs associated with mold and other fungi, many companies are now engineering advanced materials capable of resisting fungal growth as a means of preventing the spread of mold regardless of environmental spore counts or level of dampness. This additional line of defense requires widespread testing of new mold-resistant products [HHI note - this link is provided for information purposes, and does not constitute an endorsement by HHI] under highly controlled laboratory conditions. 
   

Business and homeowners everywhere have become increasingly conscious of mold as they choose materials used in construction and facility operations.

 

Today, several mold resistant materials are available in the market including insulation, wood, drywall, paint, tape, stucco, carpet, caulking, sealants, etc.

 

These materials often undergo rigorous, highly controlled laboratory investigation.  Selection of such tested materials can help prevent the spread of mold indoors, leading to healthier and, perhaps even happier, homes.

 

References
1.   http://www.cdc.gov/mold/faqs.htm
2.   http://www.epa.gov/mold/
3.   http://www.afhh.org/hps/hps_mold.htm
4.   http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/topics/indoorenv/mold.html
5.   https://docs.google.com/viewer?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.euro.who.int%2Fdocument%2Fe92645.pdf

 

 

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How Lab-tested Mold-resistant Materials are Leading to Healthier Homes :  Created on June 18th, 2013.  Last Modified on June 19th, 2013

 

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About Drew Sowersby, M.S.

Drew Sowersby, M.S., is a microbiologist with Antimicrobial Test Laboratories' Fungal Testing Group, Round Rock, TX,

 

 

Information provided by The Healthy House Institute is designed to support, not to replace the relationship between patient/physician or other qualified healthcare provider.

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