NEW YORK STATE LICENSED MOLD ASSESSOR

1-800-376-8972

914-469-5946

SERVING WESTCHSTER COUNTY, BRONX COUNTY AND BEYOND!

The United States environmental protection agency recommends that every home in America be tested for certain environmental pollutants, regardless of age, location or style of your home. You and your family may be exposed to hazardous levels of contaminants 10 to 20 times greater than found outdoors and without knowing why, experience systems that are often overlooked by doctors as everyday medical complaints. Even if everyone in your family feels great, it is still recommended that you test your home to prevent health problems before they occur. Call Christopher Greco Appraisals and Home Inspections to make an appointment today.




Mold in the Home

The first thing to understand about mold is that there is a little mold everywhere – indoors and outdoors, in Bronxville, New Rochelle, Yonkers or Mt. Vernon...its everywhere.  It's in the air and can be found on plants, foods, dry leaves, and other organic materials.


It's very common to find molds in homes and buildings. After all, molds grow naturally indoors.  And mold spores enter the home through doorways, windows, and heating and air conditioning systems.  Spores also enter the home on animals, clothing, shoes, bags and people.


When mold spores drop where there is excessive moisture in your home, they will grow. Common problem sites include humidifiers, leaky roofs and pipes, overflowing sinks, bath tubs and plant pots, steam from cooking, wet clothes drying indoors, dryers exhausting indoors, or where there has been flooding.


Many of the building materials for homes provide suitable nutrients for mold, helping it to grow.  Such materials include paper and paper products, cardboard, ceiling tiles, wood and wood products, dust, paints, wallpaper, insulation materials, drywall, carpet, fabric, and upholstery.

 

 

Mold Growth Signs

Potential Mold Growth Signs

1. High Humidity


If you live in an area with high humidity, then you should always be on the lookout for potential mold problems. Naturally, the outdoor humidity affect indoor humidity levels, creating a perfect environment for toxic mold growth.


2. Water/Pipe Leaks

Mold needs moisture in order to grow and thrive. Many mold problems originate as a result of some kind of water intrusion, especially those that are not resolved quickly. In which case, water and pipe leaks are common culprits, since they provide plenty of moisture, and are often undetected for days, months, or even years if minor enough.

When
leaks are discovered, appropriate steps are not normally taken to minimize potential mold growth problems.

By the time they are discovered, it is often too late, since the mold will have had ample opportunity to grow in the same hard-to-find places where water leaks occur, such as in wall cavities.

3. Flooding

Mold problems are very common after flooding for obvious reasons (plenty of moisture which is conducive for mold growth). Plus, it usually requires several days or weeks to fully dry out the home or building once flooding occurs, giving colonies of black mold more than adequate time to become fully ingrained in these sections.

4. Mildewy/Musty Odors

Odors can often be the first or only sign of a potential mold problem, since mold commonly propagates in places not normally in view. This does not necessarily mean that you definitely have a mold problem, but it should prompt you to look for the other signs, or to look for the mold growth itself.

In some cases, mildew smells will only be evident when the air conditioning or heat is turned on, or it may just be much more evident when the HVAC system is running. If this is the case, then it is very possible that you have significant mold growth within the HVAC system


The importance of mold in the real estate market today

Much has been made of indoor mold in advertising and the media lately, so it’s a common concern for homeowners and buyers.  It's common to find mold even in new homes.  Whether you’re selling your current home or looking into buying one, it’s vital to get a mold inspection.  Presence of active mold can drastically affect the resale value of any home.

For homeowners living in Westchester County or Bronx County, a mold inspection will either put your mind at rest or make you aware of any problems that could otherwise cause delays or deal breakers once you’ve entered negotiations with a buyer.  A professional mold inspector will give you a signed lab report before you put the home up for sale.  Imagine being able to show a “clean bill of health” to potential buyers that express concerns – they’ll be impressed by your thoroughness and commitment to your home.

For buyers looking in Westchester County, getting a mold inspection by Christopher Greco will ensure that you’re not surprised by costly clean up and the potential health hazards of mold.  If any mold is found to be present and active in the home, the mold inspection will allow you to ask or require the seller to do the clean up prior to buying the home.

Exposure to mold



Everyone is exposed to some amount of mold on a daily basis, most without any apparent reaction.  Generally mold spores can cause problems when they are present in large numbers and a person inhales large quantities of them.  This occurs primarily when there is active mold growth.

For some people, a small exposure to mold spores can trigger an asthma attack or lead to other health problems.  For others, symptoms may only occur when exposure levels are much higher.

The health effects of mold can vary.  The production of allergens or irritants can cause mild allergic reactions and asthma attacks.  The production of potentially toxic mycotoxins can cause more severe reactions, and in rare cases death.

Should I be concerned about mold in my New York home if I live in Westchester County, Bronx County or Beyond?

Yes.  If indoor mold is extensive, those in your home can be exposed to very high and persistent airborne mold spores.  It is possible to become sensitized to these mold spores and develop allergies or other health concerns, even if one is not normally sensitive to mold.

Left unchecked, mold growth can cause structural damage to your home as well as permanent damage to furnishings and carpet.

According to the Centers for Disease Control*, "It is not necessary, however, to determine what type of mold you may have.  All molds should be treated the same with respect to potential health risks and removal."

Can my home be tested for mold?


Yes.  Christopher Greco is a licensed New York State Mold Assessor serving Westchester, Bronx and beyond. We offer thorough mold inspections that involve visual examinations of the most likely areas to harbor mold.  We also take air samples indoors and out to determine whether the number of spores inside your home is significantly higher.  If the indoor level is higher, it could mean that mold is growing inside your home and may require remediation.


MOLD TESTING       

Mold tests can be divided into two categories: air and surface. If you find it necessary to perform a mold test, then it would be advisable to take at least one surface sample and one air sample.  The reason is, in some situations, you may have mold growing on surface, yet it has not reached a point where it is releasing very many mold spores into the air. In which case, air sampling alone would provide results that did not accurately portray the extent of mold growth. Or, you may have a situation where, in your random surface sampling, you did not sample a surface where mold was growing (or at least not at a significant level), but mold colonies throughout other parts of the home had reached a point where they were releasing substantial amounts of mold spores into the air. In this case, your surface sampling would not give you and accurate picture of the problem.

Samples of the indoor air and the outside air are taken for comparison. There should not be any mold inside the house that is not found outside. The concentration of mold inside a home should not be higher than the concentration of mold outside. Keep in mind that mold spores in the air being sampled can vary greatly in relation to the life cycle of the mold, atmospheric and environmental conditions, and the amount of ventilation. There are seasonal and diurnal variability in airborne mold at an indoor residential environment. Air sampling may be necessary if the mold growth is suspected (for example, musty odors), but cannot be identified by a visual examination. The purpose of such air sampling is to determine the location and/or extent of mold contamination as well as a simple confirmation that mold growth exists somewhere in the building. All mold spores have a source, and identifying the source is the goal.

Surface Sampling      

Surface / Bulk sampling is used to identify a mold type at a specific location. This mold testing technique is useful also in ruling out possible discolorations or staining that sometimes exhibit mold like characteristics.

Swab

A cotton swab is used to collect a small quantity of material from a non-porous surface. The area where
mold is suspected is gently swabbed. After the entire area has been sampled, the swab is inserted into
the tube of a buffer and shipped to the laboratory within 24 hours of the mold testing. In turn the
sample is analyzed either with a fungi screen or culture analysis. An accredited laboratory performs the
testing procedures for these results.

Bulk

A bulk sample should be collected when material is porous and swabbing is not practical. A utility knife
is used to collect samples. Bulk materials are then placed into a standard zip-lock type bag and sent to an accredited laboratory to be analyzed with either a fungi screen or culture analysis.

Tape

A piece of clear tape is used to collect a small quantity of material. In turn this is analyzed either with a
fungi screen or culture analysis. An accredited laboratory performs the testing procedures for these
results.

Air Sampling

In mold testing, air sampling is the most effective method for determining whether a mold infestation is potentially creating an unsafe living environment. During this type of mold testing, air quality is tested using the Air-O-Cell cassette by drawing air and impacting the airborne particles over a glass substrate. Typically the processruns for 4 to 10 minutes.

Viable And Non-Viable Mold Sampling

Non-viable air samples refer to samples that are taken on some sticky media or on a filter membrane or tape and subsequently examined directly under a microscope for enumeration and identification of mold spores and hyphal fragments without culturing. In other words, the samples are taken for analyses by direct microscopic examination. This would be the best to take if the objective of air sampling was to have an idea of how contaminated the air is, then the data required would be total counts.

Viable air samples refer to samples that are taken on some growth media and subsequently incubated for mold propagules (spores and/or hyphal fragments) to germinate and form colonies. The resulting colonies are then enumerated and/or transferred to other media for identification to genus or species.

If the objective of air sampling was to find whether the air contains a specific species of mold e.g., Aspergillus fumigatus, then identification to species would be required. Since non-viable analysis would not distinguish A. fumigatus from other Aspergillus species and not even from Penicillium species and related genera, then sampling for viable analysis would be selected.

Both method can be used in a mold investigation, it all depends on the objectives of air sampling, the data required and the questions these data are intended to answer.

What Are The Most Common Types and Varieties of Mold?
 
One of the objectives of mold remediation professionals is to determine what type of mold is present in a property. This is important because it will help the professional and the property owner determine the relative health risk that the mold poses and how best to remediate it. Unfortunately, not all molds are the same, in fact there are over 1.5 millions species of mold in the world. However, only about 100,000 have been identified.
Mold is a fungus, as are mushrooms and yeast, and has a biologicial function as nature’s recycler consuming dead organic matter. Understanding it’s biological importance is essential to understanding why it poses health hazards. For the purposes of mold inspections and remediation, one of our goals is to identify whether or not the mold is allergenic, pathogenic, or toxigenic.

1. Allergenic Molds
Allergenic Molds: Not usually life-threatening but are most problematic for individuals with allergies or asthma. The challenge is figuring out what mold is triggering the reaction. Children are particularly susceptible to mold allergies.

Allergenic Molds

Not usually life-threatening but are most problematic for individuals with allergies or asthma. The challenge is figuring out what mold is triggering the reaction. Children are particularly susceptible to mold allergies.


2. Pathogenic Molds
Pathogenic Molds: Produce an infection of particular concern if your immune system is weak or compromised. This type of mold can cause hypersensitivity pneumonitis, an acute response resembling bacterial pneumonia. An example is Aspergillus fumigatus, which can grow in the lungs of immune-compromised individuals.

Pathogenic Molds

Produce an infection of particular concern if your immune system is weak or compromised. This type of mold can cause hypersensitivity pneumonitis, an acute response resembling bacterial pneumonia. An example is Aspergillus fumigatus, which can grow in the lungs of immune-compromised individuals.

3. Toxigenic Molds (aka “toxic molds”)
Toxigenic Molds: Toxic molds produce mycotoxins that will make anyone sick. Possible reactions include immune suppression and cancer. Mycotoxins are chemical toxins present within or on the surface of the mold spore, which can be inhaled, ingested, or touched. An example of this is aflatoxin, one of the most potent carcinogens known to mankind. Aflatoxin grows on peanuts and grains, and on some other foods.

Toxigenic Molds

Toxic molds produce mycotoxins that will make anyone sick. Possible reactions include immune suppression and cancer. Mycotoxins are chemical toxins present within or on the surface of the mold spore, which can be inhaled, ingested, or touched. An example of this is aflatoxin, one of the most potent carcinogens known to mankind. Aflatoxin grows on peanuts and grains, and on some other foods.
In order to determine the exact species of mold, mold inspectors will usually recommend that a tape or swab sample is taken. Sometimes, air quality tests may also be recommend because air borne mold spores are not visible to the eye; such a test will enable the inspector to report back on the concentration of indoor spores. Samples are then sent to accredited laboratories who analyze them to determine the exact species. Over the years, we have received many lab reports that have identified these five most common indoor molds.

1. Alternaria
Alternaria is commonly found in your nose, mouth and upper respiratory tract and can cause allergic responses.

Alternaria

Alternaria is commonly found in your nose, mouth and upper respiratory tract and can cause allergic responses.

2. Aspergillus
Aspergillus is usually found in warm, extremely damp climates, and a common occupant of house dust. This mold produces mycotoxins which is a poisonous chemical compound.

Aspergillus

Aspergillus is usually found in warm, extremely damp climates, and a common occupant of house dust. This mold produces mycotoxins which is a poisonous chemical compound. This mold variety can cause lung infections, aspergillosis.

3. Cladosporium
Cladosporium is a very common outdoor fungus that can find its way indoors and grow on textiles, wood and other damp, porous materials. This mold triggers hay fever and asthma symptoms.

Cladosporium

Cladosporium is a very common outdoor fungus that can find its way indoors and grow on textiles, wood and other damp, porous materials. This mold triggers hay fever and asthma symptoms.

4. Penicillium
Penicillium is a very common species found on wallpaper, decaying fabrics, carpet, and fiberglass duct insulation. It is known for causing allergies and asthma. Some species produce mycotoxins, one being the common antibiotic penicillin.

Penicillium

Penicillium is a very common species found on wallpaper, decaying fabrics, carpet, and fiberglass duct insulation. It is known for causing allergies and asthma. Some species produce mycotoxins, one being the common antibiotic penicillin.

5. Stachybotrys
Stachybotrys is extremely toxic “black mold” that produces mycotoxins that can cause serious breathing difficulties and bleeding of the lungs. This mold can be found on wood or paper.

Stachybotrys

Stachybotrys is extremely toxic “black mold” that produces mycotoxins that can cause serious breathing difficulties and bleeding of the lungs. This mold can be found on wood or paper.
If you have questions or suspect you have mold issues, call us toll free, 1-800-376-8972.

How do I remove mold from my home?

First address the source of moisture that is allowing the mold to grow.  Then take steps to clean up the contamination. Many times a licensed mold remediation company is required.  Here are helpful links to lean more about cleaning up mold in your home.

As stated, mold requires moisture and organic matter to feed upon. High relative humidities are required for germination and growth while lower humidities tend to increase the release of mold spores as a method for self-preservation.

CONTAMINATED CENTRAL AIR HANDLING SYSTEMS CAN EASILY BECOME BREEDING GROUNDS FOR MOLD.

Mold Removal And Mold Inspections For Renters and Landlords

 Mold growth is classified as a factor of inhabitable conditions and is required to be taken care of by landlords. This includes having proper inspections done by certified mold inspectors and then having the mold removed from the property by qualified contractors. As tenants you have the right to hire inspectors yourself to get this work done . However, you must give your landlord notice that you are having this work done and give him/her a proper amount of time to fix the issue.

 As renters in New York, including Yonkers, Mt. Vernon, Harrison, Rochelle or anywhere else in Bronx and Westchester, you have the right to live in a safe and healthy environment, which includes the quality of air in our homes, or indoor air quality (IAQ). Mold spores circulating in the air can create harmful living situations and lead to health problems for you and your family.

Post Remediation Mold Clearance Inspection / Mold Clearance Testing

The purpose of a mold clearance inspection is to assure that the mold cleanup has been done correctly and effectively in the work area and to confirm that the cleanup did not accidentally distribute high levels of moldy dust and debris into other building areas or into its mechanical systems such as heating or air conditioning systems.  To avoid conflicts of interest, mold clearance testing should never be performed by the mold remediation contractor.

Mold exposure systems that can and are often over looked by people and physicians as common, everyday medical complaints include:

  • Depression
  • Chills
  • Irritability
  • Fatigue
  • Anger
  • Sleep disorders
  • Fear
  • Hay fever/ allergy type symptoms
  • Coughing
  • Loss of appetite
  • Wheezing
  • Skin rashes
  • Runny eyes and nose
  • Hypersensitivity
  • Muscular aches
  • Asthma
  • Fever
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Headaches
  • Confusion

If you suspect exposure, seek help of a qualified physician immediately and have your home or work place tested as soon as possible by an environmental specialist like Christopher Greco.

Our mold testing goes beyond just the testing phase. We come in, determine what is happening and why, and offer solutions to correct the problem. Samples are taken and sent to the lab, thermal imaging is performed to scan for moisture behind walls, moisture meter readings are taken and a report is written which specifies what needs to be done.

 

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