Mold and VoC's
VoC stands for Volatile Organic Compound.
Volatile means that the substance vaporizes easily under normal room temperature conditions. Organic is a naturally occurring substance. Compounds are things comprised of 2 or more actions or functions. Relating this to black mold, it is the musty, or moldy smell that occurs as the mold grows on an organic moist surface. As it grows and spreads this chemical reaction occurs. Many times this is the only way you know you have a mold problem. We often see the small lines of black mold growing in the bathroom tub due to improper ventilation. This is quickly taken care of by thorough cleaning and can be prevented by installing a small vent fan in the ceiling to reduce humidity build-up. To prevent a mold problem on plastic shower curtains always open them fully to aid in drying. Wipe down your shower walls, ceiling, and bathroom floor if there are puddles of water. Moisture allows any mold spore to begin growing.
Mold can be hidden behind walls, in ceilings, around pipes that have condensation on them, under floors where the humidity has built up and created a moist atmosphere, and anywhere there is some type of organic material along with the moisture it needs to grow. There are several ways to prevent a toxic build up . Adequate ventilation will keep the moisture down, helping to prevent any spores from growing. Removing food sources is another. By keeping the environment clean and dry the mold spores won't have a place to begin growing. An activated carbon or charcoal filter is quite effective in removing VOCs as long as the filters are replaced frequently. Air purifiers come with HEPA filters which trap large amounts of mold spores. Also some vacuum cleaners are now equipped with them, which also removes dust mites from the carpet. This is good for asthma and allergy sufferers.
Some of the health problems that can occur from mold exposure are mild to quite serious. This depends on the sensitivity, health of the person, length of exposure, and type of mold. It can be as mild as sneezing, headaches, runny nose, watery eyes, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, fatigue, and an increase of asthma symptoms. More serious effects can include allergic fungal sinusitis—fungus can get stuck in your sinuses and begin to grow. The sinus area is small, and the fungal growth can become impacted, requiring surgery. Allergic bronchopulmonary aspergillosis—this is a fungal infection of the lungs. Those who are allergic to mold and also have asthma or cystic fibrosis are vulnerable to aspergillosis. Hypersensitivity pneumonitis—a rare condition which occurs when the lungs become inflamed as a response to airborne particles such as mold spores.
In conclusion, by keeping as many organic food sources cleaned up, along with proper ventilation and low moisture levels, mold won't find a home in your home. For more information on mold see www.epa.gov/mold/moldguide.html
New Mexico Facts and Trivia:
White Sands National Monument is a desert, not of sand, but of gleaming white gypsum crystals.