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How Mold Affects The Air We Breathe

Posted in Air Quality, on November 10, 2015

You're probably aware that mold affects the air you breathe, but do you know how this happens? Perhaps it's time you did. Mold is a term for numerous kinds of unwanted fungi that exist outdoors and indoors. Microorganisms such as fungi help in the breakdown of dead material, making them an important part of the earth's ongoing life cycle. However, their proliferation in buildings can affect indoor air quality (IAQ) adversely, creating hazardous medical conditions for the occupants. If you wish to understand how the fungi affect IAQ, check this out.

Mold and IAQ

During the process of digesting materials, the fungus emits enzymes to breakdown hydrocarbons into glucose for absorption. Throughout this process, it generates metabolites, which in turn generate MVOCs. MVOCs from mold can generate a musty odor. Additionally, microbiological growth can introduce cellular debris and spores into the building. Consequently, microbiological growth can affect IAQ considerably, resulting in health complaints. This typically occurs when there's an abnormal quantity of moisture in building components, permitting the development of growing mold colonies.

Cellular Debris and Spores

Molds reproduce through spores, which are naturally present indoors and outdoors while the release of cellular debris can take place in the building from amplification sites. Cellular debris and spores are micro-particulates and can remain airborne for lengthy periods, traveling freely through small crevices, cracks, and holes in roofs and walls. Cellular debris and spores from mold are allergens, which lead to reports of symptoms such as itchy eyes, headaches, runny noses, and fatigue. Bear in mind that allergen response differs across individuals. It's also important to note that cellular debris and spores can remain an IAQ issue even after the rectification of the active development of an amplification site.


Molds at times produce volatile compounds into the air during metabolism. These chemicals feature low molecular weights, lower solubility, and high vapor pressure. The chemical traits permit VOCs to evaporate easily into the air and the released MVOCs frequently have unpleasant or strong odors. The organic compounds are usually in a gaseous state within a building's air. They can rapidly circulate throughout a building because of their gaseous state. You'll find that they can circulate even through components such as wall assemblies. Several of the compounds have a low odor threshold and generate a putrid or musty odor that occupants detect quickly. MVOCs from mold are intolerable and can generate IAQ complaints even in low concentrations. Exposure to these compounds is associated with symptoms, for instance headaches, dizziness, nausea, and nasal irritation.

Mold Toxins and Air Quality

Mold produces toxins as byproducts of metabolism. Generally, the compounds comprise huge organic molecules that don't diffuse atmospherically in the same way as MVOCs. They are present atmospherically when transported by debris, contaminated dust, cellular material, or spores. This implies that toxin exposure is likely following the disturbance of an amplification site. Adverse health responses to mycotoxins from molds typically occur in buildings with prevalent mold development. The released toxins consequently affect indoor air quality while generating symptoms among occupants.

Nutrients and Air Quality

Mold thrives on organic materials that are hydrocarbon based. Abundant organic materials such as wood, adhesives, and paper exist in buildings. Even without organic building materials, dirt and dust, which accumulate on building surfaces, can readily encourage mold growth in the presence of water. Therefore, the focus on materials should be microorganism interaction and climate conditions. Building materials that support mold growth include paper and wood products as well as adhesives and resins. In turn, the fungi releases spores into the atmosphere, affecting air quality.

Outdoors, mold plays an important role in the breakdown of wood, leaves, and other plant debris. However, the fungi produce spores, which exist outdoors and indoors. When the spores land on damp spots, they may start developing and digesting whatever they're growing on to survive. Moreover, when the spores become airborne, they affect air quality, potentially affecting building occupants. For this reason, it's important to identify and rectify the problem as soon as possible. If you need assistance with issues associated with air quality, kindly contact us so we can help (416) 414-5690

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