Mold is a type of fungus that begins as small spores that multiply when exposed to environments supporting their development. As the spores reproduce, they attach onto an item and form a mass that can be fuzzy or slimy. Mold can grow in a range of colors, such as black, gray, or green, and may develop either indoors or outdoors. If a person is exposed to mold, he or she may experience respiratory problems from inhaling the mold spores. Certain conditions are more likely to encourage mold growth, but identifying and altering the environment can prevent mold from recurring.
One of the most common environmental sources that generally contributes to mold growth is excessive moisture. Areas with accumulated confined moisture sources make mold spores more likely to thrive and multiply into larger growths. Conditions that are more likely to create mold include pipes that continually leak water, wet clothes or other items that are folded or crumpled up, or not drying bathroom floors after showering or bathing. If mold grows on a material that is absorbent, like sponges or carpeting, the items will not be able to be cleaned sufficiently to remove all mold spores and will typically need to be discarded to prevent future mold growth.
Humidity is another condition that can encourage mold growth. In humid areas, the air is filled more heavily with moisture, which makes the environment more susceptible to mold growth, even if the area does not have leaks or other accumulated water. Places that are constantly damp, such as basements or bathrooms, tend to be the household areas most affected by mold. The amount of humidity in an area can be reduced by introducing cooler air, such as through the use of a fan or ventilation system.
Mold growth is not just confined to indoor environments. The outdoor environments that may encourage mold development are usually dark areas, such as underneath shady trees or plants. A common place for outdoor mold is on damp, decomposing leaves and plants.
Some places that tend to be the most likely to suffer from the development of mold include greenhouses, construction sites, old wooden buildings, flower shops, or saunas. Buildings that have carpeting in areas with drinking foundations are also at a higher risk for mold if any water spills and accumulates onto the carpet. If a small amount of mold growth is found, a person can typically remove it with cleaning products. For widespread areas of mold, it may not be safe for an untrained person to clean it, so a professional may be required.