Saturday, June 2, 2012

A Moldy Mess!

Got to tell you this because I've been doing some rushed research and it is important to know. Some you in the south may already be experts but up north living on the high plains dessert where we get on average 12 inches of rain a year, we don't deal with mold much.

Yes, our food still gets the white fuzzies when left in the refrigerator too long and grass clippings from the lawn in the mulch pile does get all slimy and yucky but soggy cracker syndrome just doesn't take place in the dessert. You can leave your pack open with no fear of them loosing their crisp. It's one of the things tourist say about our area in the summer. The air is great and believe me I know the difference as I've stepped off the plane in Georgia in the summer and gasped as my lungs about drowned with the fluid in the air.

I try and stay away as that moist mold filled air does my lungs in though not quite as badly as smog which is another mold filled atmosphere and will put me into pneumonia within twenty-four hours.

So you could say I'm a bit allergic to the stuff, in fact I tested back in the 1980's to be allergic to the mold on my own skin.

But back to the subject of house mold. My sister, just before she left to take my folks to the hospital, discovered mushrooms growing on the carpet and became alarmed. Down south I suppose this isn't so unusual. We decided to have it checked out before returning knowing that mold can be dangerous especially to the very young and those with immune compromised systems - essentially, my mom. 

So while they were gone, she hired someone to come and check out some suspected moisture damage and they discovered water soaked walls and black mold under the part of the carpet where the mushrooms grew. Yup, theres a leak somewhere. I of course hit the Internet trying to see what we were dealing with.

Mold can be beneficial, think molds that form your favorite cheeses, penicillin and mushrooms so I knew not to panic for after all I do like a good portabello fungus with my steak. In fact, we encounter mold on a daily basis, some of us more than others, and we do fine. Pretty fine that is as I've a sinus infection from tilling the dirt, cleaning the goat shed, and shuffling the mulch from weeding but then remember, I'm allergic to a number of molds. Nothing so serious that a high dose of  Vitamin C to boost the immune system won't rid .

There are three basic types of mold - Allergenic, Pathogenic, and Toxigenic. Some molds of varying color can change into Toxigenic but they rarely do, so cleaning up mold yourself is rarely a hazard. A good dose of bleach should do it. And had we wanted to know the type of mold that was growing in our folks home it would of run us $800 smackers, ouch!! Most times it is not necessary.

Different kinds of mold have different feeding troughs and carpet with it's host of dirt is a prime spot for many. It's one of the reasons I can't handle carpet. It holds dirt, allergens, and is made of man made chemicals. All three a no no that makes my face flush bright red in its presence. The sheet rock and insulation in our home's walls also collects dust and this is another fine breeding ground for mold.

Allergenic molds irritate those with allergies and those with  immune suppressed bodies. Other folks get along fine. Pathogenic molds give most everyone an infection, runny nose, swollen lymph nodes, cough, and the like but again those with allergies and immune suppressed body can have some pretty serious infections.

Keep in mind that many molds are helpful. Some the less reactive mold do have a potential to turn into Toxigenic if the conditions are right. Thankfully they have a sweeter nature and rarely do turn nasty. So there is only scarce instances where you encounter the really dangerous ones that can attack your body and cause serious damage to the average Joe. Mold will comprimise the structure of your home and so must be treated before it gets out of hand.

We all know that if you add some moisture from a water leak most mold will flourish. What I didn't know was that a particularly nasty type of mold called Stachybotrys requires a high moisture level such as a water soaked dry wall and is characterized by its black color, slimy texture, shiny appearance when wet, and a slight greenish tint. Cold /hot variations makes this mold really flourish. Think the outer walls of a home where it is just at freezing at night and the furnace is cranked up on the inside. The good thing is that undisturbed, this mold is not airborne.

Of great concern is that mold can lead to Cellutitus,  which stems from Streptococcus. Yes, a staph infection and with an amputation, this bacteria could invade into a weakend body through this open wound and wreck havoc via the mold which is a bacteria which can cause this infection.  And yes, there are good bacteria and bad also but Streptococcus isn't one of them. With a compremise immune system, this mold could poise a real threat.

Is the house safe for these two individuals to live, definitely not but how to convince them of that. It won't be easy as they feel to be at the bottom of a well and just want to close their eyes.

How exactly to proceed? Don't know but the days ahead are sure to be challenging and educational to say the least.

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