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Mildew contamination on or in books, magazines, photographs or other paper products should be called mold.
This article explains the difference between mildew and mold and points out why that distinction matters to paper conservators and book restorers.
This article series explains how to deal with mold on books and papers, and what options we have for cleaning or storing moldy books. The moldy books in a college library (photo above) were in the opinion of some people "an old inactive mold problem" but see our warning below about "dormant mold". Sorry, it's not mildew.
Distinction between "mold" and "mildew" Questioned & Answered
As a book collector and once-upon-a-time mycologist I found your web site of interest.
However, I do not believe there would be uniform acceptance among professional mycologists of your distinction between "mold" and "mildew". The organisms involved are all fungi in the classical sense. Those attacking dead organic matter like cellulose are not all that different biologically from their relatives that may have a preference for the living cells of plants and animals.
The fact that some parasitic species may be facultative heterotrophs (feeding on non-living materials) supports this view.
I believe your cause is best served by promoting the idea that the fungi, a diverse and highly successful breed, will exploit any environment where nutrients and moisture are available whether or not it is living or dead. Books and their bindings in a high humidity environment are sitting ducks.
One final point: since fungi and their spores and hyphae are ubiquitous in nature it should be recognized that there is little chance of getting rid of all of them by any practical means (HEPA filters included).
Since fungi (including species that attack damp books) play such an important part in our ecosystem we would be unwise to eliminate them entirely. We can, however, slow them down. - Chris 9/7/2012
Reply: Mildew doesn't grow on books, nor on leather shoes, nor on wallpaper, nor on other indoor building surfaces, though lots of other mold genera/species might
Thank you for the interesting comments about book mold, mildew, HEPA vacuuming, and the important role of the fungi in our environment.
I'm grateful to read your opinion and want to emphasize that we welcome polite, informed discussion or debate about this or any other topic found at InspectApedia.com.
Indeed even among expert book restorers the term mildew is often used loosely and technically incorrectly to refer to the role of certain fungi or mold genera/species in the cause of foxing on books and papers.
A few points need clarification: by no means do I suggest that mildew is not a fungus, as mildew is indeed a proper subset of the huge kingdom of fungi. But the fungi appearing on books are different genera/species from the two fungi properly named mildew. There are some important distinctions to be made.
Mildew doesn't grow on shoes, nor on paper, though many other mold genera/species can grow on these materials
I learned about the distinctive properties of mildew as a living plant pathogen among other members of the Fifth Kingdom from Dr. John Haines, my friend and mentor, when John was still serving as the NY State mycologist.
Discussing some mold samples I'd brought along for us to examine, I mentioned that I'd just collected some white mildew from leather shoes found in a moldy home.
Like many people I just bandied the word mildew about willy-nilly. John asked why I thought it might be mildew, allowed me to embarrass myself, and then kindly explained that mildew grows on plants, not shoes.
Perhaps it's technical nitpicking, but mildew a subset of "mold" that only grows on living plants. Mildews are a small group of fungi found among the Basidiomycota, Ustilaginales if I recall correctly, and any "mildew" if properly identified, will be either Oidium-Erysiphe or Powdery Mildew or Peronosporaceae or Downy Mildew. Mildew, then, has nothing to do with and won't be found growing on books nor on other building surfaces unless the item in the building is a live or recently-live plant.
The fungi identified as growing on or in paper materials included the following
In addition, when we add consideration of the different (from paper) materials used in book bindings, covers, etc., it is likely that there are additional mold genera/species that may be found growing on books. In our own field and lab experience, while there was some variation in mold genera/species present, the dominant fungus contamination found on the exterior of books in a moldy library basement was Aspergillus sp.
Indeed, a literature search confirms that among scholarly and research papers we researched for this article, not one authority detected the presence of either of the two types of mildew (Oidium-Erysiphe - powdery mildew, or Peronosporaceae - downy mildew) among the various fungi found growing on books, papers, photographs, stamps, or other paper based works. REFERENCES op. seq.
Fungal species commonly identified as found growing on or in books, papers, photographs, stamps, etc. include:
Aspergillus sclerotiorum [pale brown stains on paper, visible microscopically]
Cladosporyum sp. [Cladosporium sp. - ed.]
Cladosporyum sphaerospermum [pale brown stains on paper]
Penicillium sp. [at least 5 different species or strains]
Penicillium purpurogenum [brownish-yellow stains; pale whitish stains, visible microscopically]
Pithomyces chartarum [often appearing black on surfaces, brown or dark brown stains visible microscopically]
Yeast [species to be identified]
The fungi identified as mildew include these two groups
Below I include photos of Oidium or powdery mildew that I collected from a jasmine plant (below left) that was growing indoors (we moved it outside before this photo was taken) along with a photo of the same mildew from that plant under my lab microscope (below right).
Below: microscopic view of mildew spores of Oidium:
What's wrong with misidentifying fungi types or genera/species
You make an important point, that fungi are very versatile and that many genera/species adapt well to growing on stuff found indoors, including books. On the other hand, if my "mold expert" insists on calling white or light colored molds on books or on other indoor building surfaces "mildew" it makes me nervous on several scores:
Fungal genera/species-specific cleaning methods:
In some cases involving book, paper and photograph conservation and restoration, conservationists have devised treatments whose effectiveness has been tuned to (in their opinion) specific fungal genera/species.
[I'm uncertain of the role of that distinction and though I'm not a conservationist it appears to me that other factors such as the type of paper and paper fibers, the paper's condition, strength, etc. may be more critical.]
In some instances, especially such as building mold consultants who primarily provide mold tests and mold remediation advice, the expert doesn't know much about mold nor mycology so may not be very good at understanding building mold nor finding where problems actually are located.
Such an expert's advice about what to do about indoor mold contamination may involve more opinion than accuracy
Conflicts of interest & obfuscating by using euphemisms:
In real estate transactions as well as other cases where there are conflicts of interest, too often some parties will attempt to misdirect the attention of a building buyer or occupant of a moldy building with the "it's just a little mildew" argument, potentially putting future occupants at serious health risk as well as exposing the new owner to a very expensive surprise.
Why does the Mold / Mildew Distinction Matter? Implications for Building Testing
From one point of view, since the remedy for an indoor (or book) mold problem does not depend much on the mold genera or species, understanding mycology might not seem to make much difference in improving a moldy indoor building area.
But that's not quite so. Having the luxury of my own forensic lab along with performing field investigations for many years, I have been able to make a wide study of which mold genera/species seem to best like different indoor building surfaces and materials.
This work has suggested that when building investigators or "mold experts" survey a building for mold contamination, a lot depends on where and how the sample is collected.
For example, in pulling a tape sample of mold growth on a hollow-core luan door in a very moldy home we find completely different genera/species preferring the edge of the door (probably southern yellow pine wood) from that growing on the door surfaces (luan mahogany).
If the investigator does not realize this, his/her report that claims to characterize what molds are present or potentially harmful in the building might be quite inaccurate.
Watch out: In a library of moldy books, if by careless language we informed building management that we thought the dominant mold present was just a bit of mildew (say Oidium) we would erroneously conclude that other than a possible allergic response or perhaps a problem for nearby houseplants, there was no health risk to building occupants.
But in point of fact what I find on moldy library books is typically a potpourri of fungi dominated on book jackets by several species of Aspergillus - far more likely to present an IAQ and health hazard to occupants.
HEPA Vacuuming is Not a Mold Cure: the two key steps are remove the mold and fix the cause of mold growth
You are of course also completely correct that HEPA filtering of air is never a cure for mold problems on books or other indoor surfaces. Such cleaning is, however, an important step in mold remediation in general and in the cleaning of visibly moldy books and papers - a topic which we discuss in greater detail at PREPARE TO CLEAN BOOKS / PAPERS.
The effective cure for indoor mold problems involves two basic efforts:
Remove the problem mold - this means physically cleaning it off (some remaining stains may be harmless)
Find and fix the cause of high indoor moisture or leaks that caused the mold growth and fix those conditions
The reference to HEPA filtration that you may come across in reading about mold remediation in buildings typically involves either a HEPA filter on a machine used to create negative air pressure in the infected area in order to protect other building areas from cross contamination during the period of mold cleanup and repair work, or a HEPA filter used during dust cleaning in other building areas as a means of reducing indoor dust levels without just stirring up worse dust than before.
Why We Need Mold in the Environment
I also agree with and appreciate your observation that the fungi are a crucial part of our ecosystem - without them and their ability to break down cellulose (not just books, but leaves and dead wood) I doubt that their partner in cellulose decay (some bacteria) would alone be up to the job. Imagine the earth being buried in all of the dead trees, leaves, grass and similar stuff that had ever died since the Jurassic period because we didn't have the fungi to break that matter down!
Or on a smaller scale, imagine if Dr. Florey hadn't found P. notatum on an orange in the marketplace and hadn't hidden some in his coat during the development of the antibiotic Penicillin? And on a still smaller scale, we enjoy both blue cheese and Ustilago maydis (Huitlacoche or "corn smut") in various food preparations here in Mexico.
Nevertheless, as a book collector you probably will agree that we don't particularly need nor want mold on books nor on other important papers or documents, a point of view that quite a few experts have made amply clear. 9] REFERENCES
Thank you again for the discussion, we'd be glad to hear further from you in this matter, particularly I'd like to know more about foxing on books and papers.
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American Institute for Conservation of Art
and Historic Artifacts (AIC),
1717 K Street NW, Suite 200, Washington, DC 20006
Phone 202-452-9545 Website: http:/aic.stanford.edu/
 Book Conservation, Department of Preservation & Collection Maintenance, Cornell University Library, Website: http://www.library.cornell.edu/preservation/operations/bookconservation.html - quoting: Conservation staff will advise and assist the public with regard to water, mold or insect damage and offer advice on storage and environment. The book conservation unit is a resource for libraries, organizations, and individuals outside Cornell. The following book preservation publications are available to the public at the Cornell University Library website: http://www.library.cornell.edu/preservation/publications/index.html
Air Drying of Wet Books, Cornell University pamphlet, gives critical advice on how to handle books that have been wet. Original source: http://www.library.cornell.edu/preservation/publications/documents/AirDryingofWetBooks.pdf
Disaster Response Plan, Cornell University Library, Disaster Subcommittee, Department of Preservation and Collection Maintenance, Security and Library Safety Working Group, Cornell University Library, Ithaca, NY 14583, Rev. July 2006.
Includes advice on preserving books following a disaster, storm, water, etc. including book drying and book cleaning methods following a water or flood disaster.
Pigment Particle & Fiber Atlas for Paper Conservators, Claire McBride, Getty Trust Postgraduate Fellow 2002, see http://www.library.cornell.edu/preservation/publications/mcbride.html [draft, incomplete, unedited] includes pigment atlases for Eastern pigments and fibers, Western pigments and fibers, and combined sources.
 Book Conservation Internship Program, U.S. Library of Congress, see http://www.loc.gov/preserv/int_book.html
Canadian Conservation Institute (CCI),
1030 Innes Road, Ottawa ON K1A 0M5, Canada, Tel: 613-998-3721, Website: http://www.cci-icc.gc.ca/html/
Conservation on Line (CoOL),
 Frost, Gary, Teaching Book Conservation Methods Within a Training Program, The Book and Paper Group Annual, Vol. Five 1986, Book & Paper Specialty Group, AIC, Chicago 1986. Gary Frost, Asst. Professor, School of Library Service, Columbia University. Web-search 02/23/2011, original source: http://cool.conservation-us.org/coolaic/sg/bpg/annual/v05/bp05-13.html
 Greenfield, Jane, The Care of Fine Books, Skyhorse Publishing; Reprint edition (September 1, 2007), ISBN-10: 1602390789, ISBN-13: 978-1602390782. Quoting from Amazon.com product description: Jane Greenfield, advisor in rare book conservation at Yale University Library, is a leading authority on preservation and repair. After attending the New York School of Applied Design, she operated her own bindery for several years, enabling her to write from an unusual level of both education and experience. Here she offers a concise yet thorough discussion of book construction, storage, handling, cleaning, and repair, as well as essential expert advice on how to properly store and handle books of value in order to protect them from fire, flood, theft, and common wear and tear. With a new introduction by bestselling author Nicholas A. Basbanes, this is an indispensable volume for bibliophiles of every description.
 Guild of Book Workers, 521 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10175-0038, National Organization for all the Book Arts, Website: http://guildofbookworkers.org/
Heritage Preservation (HP),
1012 14th Street, NW Suite 1200, Washington, DC 20005, Tel: 202-233-0800, Website: http://www.heritagepreservation.org/
 Lavender, Kenneth, Book Repair: A How-to-Do-It Manual (How-to-do-It Manuals for Libraries, No. 107) (How to Do It Manuals for Librarians), Neal-Schuman Publishers; 2 Sub edition (February 1, 2001), ISBN-10: 1555704085, ISBN-13: 978-1555704087 - Quoting: Lavender's highly acclaimed guide has been completely revised and expanded to offer up-to-date help. Covering both basic book repair techniques and sound conservation practices, this completely revised step-by-step manual offers illustrated sections on cleaning, mending, hinge and spine repair, strengthening paperbacks, and more. Completely new chapters cover: wet and water-damaged books; mold and mildew; repair of book linings and pamphlet bindings; using acid-free materials to repair damaged books; lining paper objects; affordable repair tools and supplies and much more. A full discussion of when and how to make repairs, and alternative conservation practices that enable each librarian to develop procedures appropriate to his or her library are also provided. Here is the practical guidance you need to successfully perform archivally-sound repairs - even on a limited budget.
 McQueen, Sharon, Latorraca, Ellen, Warmbold, Richard, In-House Bookbinding and Repair, The Scarecrow Press, Inc. (September 26, 2005, ISBN-10: 0810852241, ISBN-13: 978-0810852242, Quoting: In-House Bookbinding and Repair is a working document that contains information on setting up both a basic bookbindery and repair lab (i.e. the design, equipment, tools, and supplies needed) and instructions on rebinding and repairing cloth-bound books. Highly illustrated to greater enhance its usefulness, this manual also covers various aspects of book repair and conservation, and contains appendixes on manufacturers and suppliers of materials and products discussed in the text, an extensive Glossary of terms, a separate section on World Wide Web Resources, and a helpful bibliography. This manual will prove valuable to libraries of all sizes and locations.
National Park Service (NPS), Conserve-O-Gram [museum management series], Website:
NEDCC, "Preservation of Library & Archival Materials: A Manual", Northeast Document Conservation Center (NEDCC),
100 Brickstone Square, Andover, MA 01810-1494, Tel: 978-475-6021 Website: http://nedcc.org/
 Rosenberg, Margot, Marcowitz, Bern, The Care and Feeding of Books Old and New, St. Martin's Griffin (March 1, 2004), ISBN-10: 0312326033, ISBN-13: 978-0312326036. [Authors are owners of Manhattan's Dog Lovers' Bookshop]
 Verheyen, Peter D., Basic Paper Treatments for Printed Book Materials, presentation, Guild of Book Workers 9th Anniv. Seminar, Portland OR, 1989, web search 02/23/2011, original source: http://www.philobiblon.com/gbwarticle/gbwjournalarticle.htm Quoting: Since these presentations and the synopses that later appeared in the GBW Newsletter, there has been some discussion. The presentations and these articles are not to be construed as a "how to" of basic paper conservation but rather as an introduction for those with interest but little experience. For the more experienced, they present the methods of the individual conservator for dealing with common problems. None of these methods is the only way to carry out a specific treatment. Each project has its own challenges and no two are alike. It is therefore important to continue to build our knowledge through both reading and the lessons of experience.
 Thanks to reader Mike Olsen for discussing the problem of how a lab can determine whether or not mold in a test sample is active or inactive - June 2010
 Zotti (2011): M. Zotti, A. Ferroni, P. Calvini, "Mycological and FTIR analysis of biotic foxing on paper substrates", International Biodeterioration & Biodegradation
Volume 65, Issue 4, July 2011, Pages 569–578, [copy on file as Zotti_2011.pdf]
The small rusty stains (foxing) frequently found on historic paper documents, books, and prints have generally been analysed in the past by optical microscope through their morphochromatic appearance under visible light and UV radiation. Despite increased research efforts with more sophisticated techniques (mainly SEM and XRF), the biotic or even chemical origin of these stains remains unclear. The purpose of this paper is to verify to what extent a simple technique such as FTIR-ATR spectroscopy can be utilised for a clearer understanding of the controversial nature of foxing. Since this technique is sensitive to several organic chemical groups that are in common with both fungi and gelatine-sized ancient paper, some modern cardboards stained by biotic foxing have been selected for the analyses. The results clearly show the importance of FTIR and mycological analyses for the identification of residual microfungal agents, together with the by-products of their activity on paper substrates.
Paper composition. Corresponding author. Tel.: +39 0103099378; fax: +39 0102099377. Email: email@example.com
 Zotti (2008): Zotti, Mirca,Ferroni, Alice, Calvini, Paolo, "Inhibition Properties of Simple Fungistatic Compounds on Fungi Isolated from Foxing Spots", Restaurator [Restaurator. International Journal for the Preservation of Library and Archival Material] Volume 28, Issue 3, Pages 201–217, ISSN (Print) 0034-5806, DOI: 10.1515/REST.2007.201, April 2008, online publication, Summary:
Only few solvents and chemical compounds are employable for the reduction of acidity and fungi in aged paper documents. In this study, we tested the fungistatic properties of calcium propionate (already proposed as deacidificant) either in aqueous or ethanolic solution. Further, we compared the effect of this treatment with that of a commercially available fungistatic spray based on 4-hydroxybenzoate and propyl 4-hydroxybenzoate. One set of tests was performed on fungi isolated from foxed old paper samples. Another was performed on a sheet of glass that had recently covered a cardboard backing in a frame and that showed a one-to-one correspondence between the spawn on the glass and the foxing stains on cardboard. Ten species representative of filamentous fungi genera and one yeast form were identified. Of the fungal species, the one most frequently represented was Penicillium, with 5 different strains, while for each of the other genera there was only one species. The antifungal chemicals investigated presented different levels of effectiveness in inhibiting micro-organism growth: the results of a number of tests carried out on strains cultured in suitable media demonstrate that saturated solutions (3.5 g/L) of calcium propionate in ethanol significantly inhibit the fungal growing.
[17a] Zotti (2008): M. Zotti, A. Ferroni, P. Calvini, Microfungal biodeterioration of historic paper: preliminary FTIR and microbiological analyses
International Biodeterioration and Biodegradation, 62 (2008), pp. 186–194
[17b] Zotti (2007): Zotti, M., Ferroni, A., Calvini, P., 2007. Foxing biologico: diagnostica multidisciplinare.
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 Book Repair Guide, Bookcraft®, supplier of book, paper & photograph conservation and restoration supplies; archival storage advice, Tel. 1-800-448-6160 Website: www.gaylord.com, retrieved 9/1/12, original site http://www.gaylord.com/images/Bookcraft_BookRepairGuide.pdf, [copy on file as Bookcraft_BookRepairGuide.pdf] and sources recommended by Gaylord:
 Banks, Paul N. & Pilette, Roberta, Eds., Preservation Issues and Planning, Chicago and London: American Library Association, 2000
 Lavender, Kenneth and Stockton, Scott. Book Repair: A How-To-Do-It Manual, for School and Public Libraries. 2nd ed. New York: Neal Schuman, 2001
 Lull, William P. with Banks, Paul N. Conservation Environment Guidelines for Libraries and Archives. Ottawa: Canadian Council of Archives, 1995, from the Canadian Council of Archives, 3444 Wellington St., Room 1009, Ottawa, Canada K1A 0N3
 Ogden, Sherelyn, Editor. Preservation of Library & Archival Materials: A Manual. 3rd ed. Andover, MA: Northeast Document Conservation Center, 1999 (technical leaflets available online at www.nedcc.org)
 Preservation of Library & Archival Materials: A Manual. 3rd ed. Andover, MA, Northeast Document Conservation Center, 1999
 Young, Laura. Bookbinding & Conservation by Hand. Reprint edition. Newark, Delaware: Oak Knoll Press, 1995
 Tronson, Paul, "Removing Foxing and Mildew", Bookbinding & Royal Bindings-Commissions Accepted-Worldwide, Canada, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org, Tel: +1 250 580 1547, retrieved 9/11/12, original source: http://periodfinebindings.typepad.com/removing_foxing_and_milde/ [copy on file as Removing_Foxing_Tronson.pdf]
 Coleman, M.H.; Baynes-Cope, A.D.; Agabeg, R.C., "Foxing", Chemistry and industry, Vol. 7, February 15, 1969, p. 197, three letters to the editor
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Volumes 208–209, 15 March 2003, Pages 311–316, Physics and Chemistry of Advanced Laser Materials Processing
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 Arai, H., Nemoto, C., Matsui, N., Matsumura, N., Murakita, H., 1989. Microbiological studies on the conservation of paper and related cultural properties: Part 8, on the components found in foxing. Science for Conservation 28, 7e15.
 Meynell, Guy, "Notes on Foxing, Chlorine Dioxide Bleaching and Pigments", Paper conservator, ISSN 0309-4227, Vol 4, No. 1, 01/01/1979 p. 30
 Henry A. Carter, The Chemistry of Paper Preservation: Part 1. The Aging of Paper and Conservation Techniques, Journal of Chemical Education 1996 73 (5), p 417
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Books & Articles on Building & Environmental Inspection, Testing, Diagnosis, & Repair
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
"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
Carson, Dunlop & Associates Ltd., 120 Carlton Street Suite 407, Toronto ON M5A 4K2. Tel: (416) 964-9415 1-800-268-7070 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.
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