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Cosmetic mold generally does not need to be tested nor removed.
How can we recognize harmless mold indoors? Don't spend a fortune on needless cleaning of cosmetic-only mold growth.
This article discusses how to recognize mold that may be harmless, or cosmetic only in importance in buildings.
We look for mold in buildings not only where mold is visible but also by context: where do we see leak stains,
or where do we see building practices most likely to have produced a hidden leak or moisture problem?
We also discuss: age of mold: how to determine that mold has not been actively growing on building framing. How to tell, with confidence that black mold you see on building framing or other wood surfaces is old, came in with the lumber from the lumber yard, and is a cosmetic stain fungus.
How to Recognize Harmless Cosmetic Molds and Other Low-Risk Molds
Cosmetic-only Ceratocystis/Ophistoma bluestain mold is shown on the floor joists in the new construction framing in the photo
This is a harmless, cosmetic-only mold that does not damage the lumber and is not a pathogen
for humans. Here's a good example of the observation that not all "black mold" is "toxic black mold". It will be totally
hidden when the ceiling drywall is installed.
The mold shown in the photograph above is plain to see during construction, but will be covered and hidden completely when
the contractor installs the ceiling drywall.
One of our clients discovered this scary-looking black mold during a renovation and was quite
concerned that a major toxic black mold reservoir had been found in the building.
He client was
facing a very costly mold cleanup project if this mold had to be addressed as a toxic material. Luckily this was not the case in this
instance, as was easily demonstrated both by a simple inexpensive lab test and confirmed by onsite inspection of
other framing details discussed at "Cosmetic Molds" linked-below.
So sometimes the mold in your house might be only a cosmetic concern.
Ceratocystis/Ophistoma is common on framing lumber and we often find it in attics on the
under side of roof sheathing. Unless it's in finished portions of living space where it creates
a cosmetic problem, no particular action needed to address this black mold.
Detailed advice about spotting harmless black mold including how to determine by visual inspection
alone whether or not you're probably looking at one of these common framing lumber cosmetic molds
at HARMLESS BLACK MOLD.
Warning notice about Cleaning Up Mold Yourself
Guidelines defining what's a "large amount" of mold and what's reasonable for a
homeowner to handle have been published by several states including New
York and California. Links to some key documents describing mold cleanup and mold remediation procedures
at MOLD CLEANUP GUIDE- HOW TO GET RID OF MOLD
are allergic, asthmatic, infant, elderly, immune-impaired, etc., should not disturb mold and should
not be in the area where mold remediation is being performed. Consult with your doctor, health
department or other professional before tackling this job yourself.
On occasion some visible mold can be determined to be harmless and "cosmetic" old mold that was present when the building was constructed.
While it is always possible that additional more harmful molds are present in addition to the cosmetic mold, if there is no leak history
nor any other evidence of mold growth in a building and if there are no health or building-related occupant complaints, the identification
of the cosmetic mold described here might be accomplished by visual inspection alone, saving on more costly professional mold tests.
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(Nov 21, 2014) Robert Mc said:
70 year old house. Small office. Period of few months, soft tiny gray spots land on screen and keyboard. It wipes off easily but comes back, almost like very fine dust and disappears in the cloth. A/C vent tapped off. What could it be????
Could be common house dust: a mixture of fabric fibers and skin cells. Or if there is an unusual particle source that'd be it. To identify the particles you'd want to send a tape sample of the dust to a forensic lab. (Not to us).
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Kansas State University, department of plant pathology, extension plant pathology web page on wheat rust fungus: see http://www.oznet.ksu.edu/path-ext/factSheets/Wheat/Wheat%20Leaf%20Rust.asp
"A Brief Guide to Mold, Moisture, and Your Home",
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency US EPA - includes basic advice for building owners, occupants, and mold cleanup operations. See http://www.epa.gov/mold/moldguide.htm
US EPA - Mold Remediation in Schools and Commercial Building [Copy on file at /sickhouse/EPA_Mold_Remediation_in_Schools.pdf ] - US EPA
US EPA - Una Breva Guia a Moho - Hongo [Copy on file as /sickhouse/EPA_Moho_Guia_sp.pdf - en Espanol
Allergies, Allergens, Allergy Testing in buildings - References & Products
"IgG Food Allergy Testing by ELISA/EIA, What do they really tell us?" Sheryl B. Miller, MT (ASCP), PhD, Clinical Laboratory Director, Bastyr University Natural Health Clinic - ELISA testing accuracy: Here is an example of Miller's critique of ELISA
http://www.betterhealthusa.com/public/282.cfm - Townsend Letter for Doctors and Patients
The critique included in that article raises compelling questions about IgG testing assays, which prompts our interest in actually screening for the presence of high levels of particles that could carry allergens - dog dander or cat dander in the case at hand.
http://www.tldp.com/issue/174/IgG%20Food%20Allergy.html contains similar criticism in another venue but interestingly by the same author, Sheryl Miller. Sheryl Miller, MT (ASCP), PhD, is an Immunologist and Associate Professor of Basic and Medical Sciences at Bastyr University in Bothell, Washington. She is also the Laboratory Director of the Bastyr Natural Health Clinic Laboratory.
Allergens: Testing for the level of exposure to animal allergens is discussed at http://www.animalhealthchannel.com/animalallergy/diagnosis.shtml (lab animal exposure study is interesting because it involves a higher exposure level in some cases
Allergens: WebMD discusses allergy tests for humans at webmd.com/allergies/allergy-tests
Atlas of Clinical Fungi, 2nd Ed., GS deHoog, J Guarro, J Gene, & MJ Figueras, Centraalbureau voor Schimmelcultures, Universitat Rovira I Virgili, 2000, ISBN 90-70351-43-9 (you can buy this book at Amazon) - The Atlas of Clinical Fungi is also available on CD ROM
"A Brief Guide to Mold, Moisture, and Your Home", U.S. Environmental Protection Agency US EPA - includes basic advice for building owners, occupants, and mold cleanup operations. See http://www.epa.gov/mold/moldguide.htm
"Disease Prevention in Home Vegetable Gardens,"
Department of Plant Microbiology and Pathology,
Department of Horticulture, University of Missouri Extension - extension.missouri.edu/publications/DisplayPub.aspx?P=G6202
Fifth Kingdom, Bryce Kendrick, ISBN13: 9781585100224, is available from the InspectAPedia online bookstore - we recommend the CD-ROM version of this book. This 3rd/edition is a compact but comprehensive encyclopedia of all things mycological. Every aspect of the fungi, from aflatoxin to zppspores, with an accessible blend of verve and wit. The 24 chapters are filled with up-to-date information of classification, yeast, lichens, spore dispersal, allergies, ecology, genetics, plant pathology, predatory fungi, biological control, mutualistic symbioses with animals and plants, fungi as food, food spoilage and mycotoxins.
US EPA: Una Breva Guia a Moho - Hongo [Copy on file as /sickhouse/EPA_Moho_Guia_sp.pdf - en Espanol
Carson, Dunlop & Associates Ltd., 120 Carlton Street Suite 407, Toronto ON M5A 4K2. Tel: (416) 964-9415 1-800-268-7070 Email: email@example.com. The firm provides professional home inspection services & home inspection education & publications. Alan Carson is a past president of ASHI, the American Society of Home Inspectors. Thanks to Alan Carson and Bob Dunlop, for permission for InspectAPedia to use text excerpts from The Home Reference Book & illustrations from The Illustrated Home. Carson Dunlop Associates' provides extensive home inspection education and report writing material.
The Illustrated Home illustrates construction details and building components, a reference for owners & inspectors. Special Offer: For a 5% discount on any number of copies of the Illustrated Home purchased as a single order Enter INSPECTAILL in the order payment page "Promo/Redemption" space.
TECHNICAL REFERENCE GUIDE to manufacturer's model and serial number information for heating and cooling equipment, useful for determining the age of heating boilers, furnaces, water heaters is provided by Carson Dunlop, Associates, Toronto - Carson Dunlop Weldon & Associates Special Offer: Carson Dunlop Associates offers InspectAPedia readers in the U.S.A. a 5% discount on any number of copies of the Technical Reference Guide purchased as a single order. Just enter INSPECTATRG in the order payment page "Promo/Redemption" space.
The Home Reference Book - the Encyclopedia of Homes, Carson Dunlop & Associates, Toronto, Ontario, 25th Ed., 2012, is a bound volume of more than 450 illustrated pages that assist home inspectors and home owners in the inspection and detection of problems on buildings. The text is intended as a reference guide to help building owners operate and maintain their home effectively. Field inspection worksheets are included at the back of the volume.
Special Offer: For a 10% discount on any number of copies of the Home Reference Book purchased as a single order. Enter INSPECTAHRB in the order payment page "Promo/Redemption" space. InspectAPedia.com editor Daniel Friedman is a contributing author.
Special Offer: Carson Dunlop Associates offers InspectAPedia readers in the U.S.A. a 5% discount on these courses: Enter INSPECTAHITP in the order payment page "Promo/Redemption" space. InspectAPedia.com editor Daniel Friedman is a contributing author.
The Horizon Software System manages business operations,scheduling, & inspection report writing using Carson Dunlop's knowledge base & color images. The Horizon system runs on always-available cloud-based software for office computers, laptops, tablets, iPad, Android, & other smartphones