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  • By Bruce Lockwood, PARS Environmental, Inc.

Will Mold be the Next Asbestos?

With each passing year, the topic of mold increasingly grabs news headlines. Mold certainly can cause serious illnesses, but this heightened awareness and instant fear the word “mold” reminds many of the public asbestos hysteria of the late 1980s and early 1990s. However; unlike asbestos, which has many studies, records, and statistics cementing it as a human health hazard, carcinogen, and public health issue; mold does not. This does not mean that mold is harmless, as there are several types that can cause serious health concerns. “Mold” is the common name for fungi that grows in the form of multicellular filaments called hyphae, and are part of the natural environment, with over 100,000 different species found all over the planet. Mold is present in both indoor and outdoor environments, and the actual species observed in air, generally referred to as ‘spores,’ vary from season to season. The types of spores present are typically indicators of what biological processes are occurring nearby—for instance, the species Myxomycetes is usually present in large quantities around decaying logs, stumps, and dead leaves. Another species, Alternaria, one of the most common species worldwide, is usually found in soil, plants, or dead organic debris. It is when these types of species flourish indoors that an issue arises, as most species can grow on building materials under the right conditions.

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