Mold is a type of fungus that can only grow in moist conditions, and it is sure to form if the moisture content in a house is not controlled. The most common household molds are Cladosporium, Penicillium, Alternaria, and Aspergillus. Most of these molds are either black or white in appearance. Mold is destructive to the home because it destroys the materials that it grows on, due to the physiology of the fungus. Unlike plants, fungi can not make their own food, so they produce enzymes that break down whatever food source they happen to be attached to. Wood, drywall, carpet, and other materials make an excellent source of food for mold. This is why mold from flood damage and water damage is the worst enemy.
In addition, certain molds in the living environment can make a person very ill because they release allergens called mytotoxins. These function by killing healthy cells in the infected organism. People with asthma must especially be on guard as these can trigger severe attacks. A normally healthy person can become very ill from exposure to mold toxins as well. Prolonged exposure induces severe headaches, swelling, irritated skin, and respiratory illness. It would be especially disastrous to have mold growing where a young child or elderly person spends a lot of time, because the effects are harder on their bodies. The mold of most concern is called Stachybotrys chartarum, a dreaded green-black colored mold. This species has been blamed for causing acute idiopathic pulmonary hemorrhage in infants, a condition in which the blood vessels in the fast growing lungs rupture.
Most insurance companies do not cover mold damage, but do cover water damage from leaks. these reasons make it very important to make sure that all leaks in the home are repaired promptly, and that any existing mold is killed and cleaned as soon as possible.
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