Mold Myths, Discussed and Debunked

Is paint or bleach the best way to get rid of mold?

What’s the one color of mold you should be concerned about: Black or white?

If air sampling comes back negative but you still smell mold and feel horrible, are you wrong, or is the test wrong?

These questions, myths, and misconceptions are answered by Tampa Mold Remediation expert, Brandon Faust, a licensed, insured and IICRC and NORMI-certified Florida mold specialist.

As for some immediate answers:

  • Neither paint or bleach are good ways to deal with mold.
  • Both black mold and white mold can be problematic—and in different ways than you might think. 
  • And air sampling, one of several forms of mold testing, can be either effective or ineffective. A lot depends on the test operator, and conditions within a home, including air circulation and the time of testing.

Top Mold Myths Discussed and Debunked

Here’s Brandon Faust, Founder and Owner of Mold Solutions on Top Mold Myths:

“If it’s got that old Florida smell, there’s a good chance that it is moldy. Musty does equal moldy but one of the other myths is that you can always smell it. Because in some cases you can’t.”

Brandon Faust, Founder of Mold Solutions. Licensed, insured, IICRC & NORMI-Certified Tampa Mold Remediation specialist

Black Mold Myths

There’s a lot of misconceptions or myths out there in terms of how you would handle mold and the best way to go about it.

I think that the biggest one you hear, that everybody’s heard, is about black mold, and that you should only be concerned about black mold.

The thing that most people don’t realize is black mold, number one, is a species. It’s a type of mold and the actual technical name for it is Stachybotrys.

And there’s definitely a certain way that it looks. It’s undeniable when you see it, it’s almost like this kind of velvet, greasy substance, depending on if it’s wet. If it’s not wet, it’s almost like a black chalk.

But that’s not the only mold to be concerned about. There’s about 100,000 different species of molds, and in the U.S. there are about 50,000 of them, but on a daily basis I’ll see probably 10 to 15 [types of mold] in this area pretty consistently.

There’s not really a good mold to have in your home, there’s not a mold that you want in your ducts, there’s not a mold that it’s… “oh, that’s okay, that’s just a little bit of bread mold.”

Because any one of them can cause an allergic reaction. Just the spore itself can act as a foreign invader.

Mold Solutions provides mold removal suited specifically to each client’s needs. Not all jobs are the same and not all homes will require the same extent of work, but every job we do is built on a foundation of technical understanding, and a level of care we’d ask for in our own homes.

Bread Mold, To Eat or Not to Eat?

Show host: Bread mold; can you just rip that piece off and eat the other piece?

Yeah, I definitely wouldn’t.

I wouldn’t do that for sure, because ultimately you have the ‘roots’ of the mold that can get further into the material or in this case the food then you might be seeing.

But that common bread mold is Aspergillus/Penicillium; most likely in that case it’s Penicillium, which you know there’s a good use for it: It’s an antibiotic.

We’ve all heard of Penicillin, the antibiotic, but it is also an antibody so it fights against your body or certain of your cells.

So ultimately even that type of mold, it’s going to release a toxic substance that’s going to release a gas that can cause issues.

Now of course there’s a certain amount that probably even if it’s off-gassing it’s not that big a deal but if you have a lot of it it can really be a problem because that gas can make you pretty sick.

Color Confusion: Black, White & Moldy All Over.

So that type of mold is going to come in a green and white form, where most people are talking about black mold, and in a lot of cases when it’s white you can’t even see it because it’s on the walls or the ceiling that are also white.

So there’s certain flashlights that we’ll use so that we can find that stuff in the house, or it will be on a film on furniture, under beds, places like that.

So that’s the main myth I would start with is that it’s only black mold to be concerned about.

A lot of people say “I have black mold in my ducts.”

Well, it’s not Stachybotrys, it’s a mold called Cladosporium, and that mold does also release a gas that can be pretty toxic.

Health & Mental Health Effects of Mold

I was meeting with a lady today who is opening up an inspection company here in Florida but she has four or five of them throughout the U.S.

She’s been in the industry for 12 years and she’s extremely skilled and experienced and she’s told me some of the things that she’s run into in terms of the health effects that can be caused:

  • Children that have lost half their weight due to mold exposure
  • The mental aspects of mold that she’s seen, that have been resolved when the mold was properly handled.
  • Even depression, you know, things along these lines that you would never think are actually being caused by mold exposure.

Off-Gassing and Defense Mechanisms

So it really is something that I think is completely underestimated in terms of the amount of problems that it can create.

That’s exactly what’s happening is it’s off gassing and one of the things that you know if you look at mold as a living, breathing organism almost like what is what do humans do?

Well, they sleep, they eat, they off gas, they defend themselves.

Mold’s the same thing, right. It’s going to do the same thing, it actually will go dormant.

So a lot of times when you talk about, Well it’s dead… No, it’s dormant. So if it gets water again it’s going to now off-gas.

So if you have the right conditions, that’s the other thing is that sometimes it’s not off-gassing, so you can do air samples and you’re not finding it in the air sample.

So you really have to do a number of tests to really have certainty that it’s not a problem.

So that’s one of the things that would probably lead into the next myth is it you know you have mold inspectors out there that you know you can almost call them like pump jockeys where they’re just doing the air sample but they’re not really deep diving into the home and looking in all the places, thermal imaging, moisture mapping, looking in the crawl space, looking in all the places that you could find mold.

They’re just taking some air samples.

Well, what happens if it’s not the right conditions where it’s not sporulating or it’s not letting the spores release?

Bleaching or Painting Over Mold

Bleach kills mold, that’s one of the myths, right?

“You can just wipe it away like you’re talking about or hey we can just paint over it.”

Painting over mold with Kilz or some other product you’re basically…. The mold just like anything else is going to adapt, and we’ve had molds that have actually come back stronger, better, because they start adapting to that anti-fungal product similar to what happens if you’re giving the body more antibiotics?

Well, it starts adjusting to that as well right so it’s similar.

Life forms want to survive so they’re going to adapt and try to figure out basically how to keep going as a species.

So when you hit it with Kilz or whatever other product, it will come through that paint.

It’s not going to just eliminate it.

Hitting it with bleach, well bleach itself can be toxic and now you’re putting this into the home and it may seem like it’s gone away, but you’ve only taken the color out of it

But if you’ve broken it down it’s going to, number one, it’s like taking a baseball bat to a beehive. You’ll agitate it, you might get rid of some of it, but what happens to the person who’s allergic to bees?

They’ll get quite sick and some people are more allergic than others which leads us into kind of another myth.

Feeling Affected by Mold? It’s Not All in Your Head.

This person’s sick in the home but nobody else is so it’s just in their head.

No, there’s about 25 to 30 percent of the population that is actually more sensitive than anybody else.

They basically don’t detox the same way and there’s about one to three percent that are super sensitive.

So you really have to take each situation as its own thing.

But back to the point in regards to you know cleaning it away or hitting it with bleach: It is a living, breathing organism so it will defend itself. You’re going to sporulate it. Those spores will go airborne, and it will also off-gas in order to protect itself.

Show host: “I remember seeing a study or some kind of a stat somewhere that, here we are in 2022, the number of allergens or allergic reactions that we have or the food sensitivity has gone up significantly since say the 1970s or 1980s. And I think that’s part of a combination of factors, but have you seen or heard of that?”

Yeah, absolutely.

There’s a few things we’ve made the homes much more airtight right so that air is recirculating right and you know there’s you know pros and cons to everything and that that is one of them has become tighter so that you know you’re keeping that sort of contaminated air in the building envelope.

Another thing that has contributed to it is EMF waves electromagnetic fields.

There was a study done by European scientists where he had an EMF cage over a set of books that you know they put water on it mold started growing. Did the same thing without the EMF cage.

And the one that had the EMF cage grew 600 times slower than the one that didn’t have the EMF cage.

So it’s basically wavelengths agitating the mold so the mold felt like it was being attacked, that it was being irritated, so it was releasing and growing 600 times faster than the one that didn’t have that, kind of like cultivating it.

Crawl Space Mold

One of the things I would say is the crawl space is a key factor to look into because 50 percent of the air that you breathe is actually coming from down below your home, if you have that space.

If it’s got that old Florida smell, there’s a good chance that it is moldy.

Musty does equal moldy but one of the other myths is that you can always smell it.

Because in some cases you can’t.

You know, sometimes you’ll go into the home and there’s no smell but there’s people that are getting sick.

And then you remove the walls and you find out there’s a huge source of mold behind them.

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Mold solutions just remediated mold in my air handler and ductwork throughout my home. They were very thorough. I was impressed with their knowledge of mycotoxins from mold and the seriousness of mold. All of the staff that I interacted with was patient, friendly, helpful and efficient. They kept me informed and I was super happy that the entire home was dry fogged with pet friendly ingredients. My two cats and I had to go out on the patio for 3 hours as the dry fog did it's thing. They kept me informed and let me know when it was perfectly safe to go back inside. Trustworthy, efficient and nice.

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