What is Mold and what does it have to do with The Built Environment?
Mold is a type of fungus. It is classified as its own biological kingdom. Fungi produce spores.
They are classified as Phyla, Classes, Orders, Families, Genera, and lastly Species. But that’s not important in the built environment. (More on that later)
Mold spores are about 5 microns. A human hair is less than 1. Spores can be fairly large.
Fungi are naturally occurring everywhere. The combination of temperature, food, and moisture are needed to amplify fungi in buildings.
Spores easily move when dry and can transport through the air. They tend to latch onto a material in more wetted environments.
Spores are on virtually all surfaces.
Spores drop after rain to the ground and then produce more mold as they latch to organics.
Building materials are great surfaces for fungi to grow on.
A Mycotoxin AKA Mold toxins, are produced when the organism is under some form of stress or release due to disturbance.
Dose is the quantity of the mycotoxin and the Response is the reaction experienced by exposure to, generally an exceedingly high level, of mold spores.
Dose/response is a concept that determines the expected reaction based on a quantity of mold spores.
Exposure to mold can cause an allergic reaction to a human body. Genetic factors cause predisposition to allergic reactions of mold species.
It is generally only known the effects of ingestion of Mold toxins by humans. Little is known about the health effects of inhalation. It varies from person to person.
In the built environment, Mold generally grows on building materials when conditions are ripe for it. IE High Humidity, Saturation due to Flooding, Plumbing concerns, etc.
In the built environment, classifying Fungi and understanding their exact types is only helpful during initial testing to identify abnormalities.
But generally if a high enough DOSAGE of Mold exists, this will visually present itself in materials we see.
Thus we can determine what type of response is to be appropriate given the amount of mold visually present, often measured in square footage rather than inches.