Most of us have heard of black mold and know to keep away and we know what mushrooms are and occasionally enjoy eating them but what exactly is mold and why should we avoid it in our homes? Fundamentally, mold is a fungi- not the kind you may put in a salad. It’s made of up organisms that eat off the surface they’re growing on. Mold grows from multicellular hyphae known as mycelium. But don’t get confused, not all mycelium is mold. Hyphae make up 25% of earth’s biomass. So mold is a natural and normal part of our world. It spreads when hyphae are moved or transplanted, these are so small we can’t see them with the naked eye but we do see the mycelium.
Mold is extremely resilient. It needs moisture to continue growing however when it’s dry it has the ability to go dormant or produce spores that are more resistant to drying out; adapting itself to the environment. When the relative humidity in the area where mold is growing increases this can cause the mold spores to burst spreading it even farther. Mold has been known to grow on all kinds of surfaces from jet fuel and stainless steel to wallpaper and glass. It’s quite amazing just how resilient mold can be, however its effects can be catastrophic in the wrong place. Mold has been known to rot wood, cause structural and cosmetic damage to buildings, and account for a plethora of ill health effects.
Despite being so small you need a microscope, mold is an important component to our earth. It’s role is much like a vulture- not pretty but quite necessary: breaking down organic matter and thereby giving back nutrients to the earth. Not only is this a critical role, scientists have discovered life saving uses from certain molds like penicillium and aspergillus. As you likely have guessed penicillin, an important antibiotic was discovered in 1929 from the mold penicillium. Aspergillus has also been used in antibiotics. It’s amazing how something quite deadly to us can be used in certain ways to save us!
Although this is a very basic overview of mold, I hope it has been informative and perhaps given you a better appreciation for the indoor blight. When you do find it in unwanted locations we at MES are here to keep you safe.