Mold grew nearly overnight – Sylvia Bittner couldn’t believe her eyes when she moved the bed in the children’s room to one side. Within two weeks, a dark turf of mold had grown on the wallpaper from the base to a height of forty centimeters. Sylvia had only moved into the rented apartment on the second floor with her family in the summer. The realtor had told her nothing about a mold problem and the apartment had been freshly painted. In late November, mold growth came upon the residents out of the blue. Sylvia picked up the phone and reported the matter to the property manager. When after eight days there was still no remedy in sight, the worried mother of two asked the consumer advice center. The friendly lady on the phone advised her to record the damage with a camera and to put the property management in default in writing. The advicer recommended that the rent payment be made with reservations so that she could later assert claims for repayment. But Sylvia Bittner was not thinking about money at first – she was much more concerned about the health of her children.
The focus is on room air temperature and relative humidity
Visible mold growth in the apartment always causes discomfort for those affected. After all, no one wants to have the unloved co-inhabitant in their neighborhood. To analyze the causes, it is essential to take a look at the physical relationships in the building. The focus is on room air temperature and relative humidity as well as on the surface temperatures of the surrounding surfaces. Mold always grows when it finds enough food and sufficient moisture in its environment. The fungus is not choosy about its “food”. A little house dust is enough, as it can be found in every apartment. In the most frequent cases of damage, condensed water vapor from the air in the room is responsible for the influx of moisture. Mold experts use the dew point calculator to determine cause and effect.
The fungus Aspergillus fumigatus blocks messenger substances in the immune system
For healthy people, mold spores in the indoor air are normally no problem, since the pathogens are successfully controlled by the immune system. For certain groups, however, caution is required. The guideline of the Scientific Medical Societies (AWMF) includes people with a weakened immune system due to chemotherapy, stem cell transplants or HIV infections. Other risk groups include people with cystic fibrosis and bronchial asthma. The German Robert Koch Institute (RKI) divides the symptoms of immunosuppression into three groups and speaks of moderate, severe and very severe immunosuppression. In a recent study, scientists from the Friedrich Schiller University in Jena (Germany) have now found out in what way the mold can turn off the immune system.
Mold fungus aspergillus niger
Another case from practice. An employee of an industrial company complained about health problems that he thought could be related to a mold in the operating rooms. The technical director of the company took the process seriously and commissioned the building biologist Oliver Zenkel with a room air examination. Culture media and particle collectors were sampled in two indoor and outdoor areas and then sent to a special laboratory for mycological examinations. After fourteen days, the lab report came and showed mushroom species that normally have no place in the room air. Particularly striking were some groups of the mold fungus species “aspergillus”. On the basis of this laboratory finding, the building biologist suspects an invisible mold source in the operating rooms.
The fungus can remain invisible for a long time
An unpredictable journeyman
The “real house sponge” (Serpula lacrymans) behaves as an unpredictable journeyman. Even in cases where he already seemed successful, he can turn up again. Already two hundred years ago there were extensive treatises on the life, occurrence and the destructive action of this fungus. It can grow even at a relatively low level of wood moisture and even attack almost dry wood when it is simultaneously settled in a different area with higher humidity. With the aid of its strand mycelium or the so-called strands, the real house sponge can spread over long stretches, thereby also wood-free substances overgrown many meters. No wonder every builder shrugs when the real house sponge is mentioned.
The building-biologist Oliver Zenkel looks surprised at the holes in the wall, which are freshly drilled a few centimeters above the base of the sock.
Hole in the wall, which is freshly drilled
Together with Susanne Planer he stands in the living room of the customer. She had called the expert, because there was mold in several places in the wall corners. Mr. Zenkel should carry out a collection of air germs and then have the culture media examined in the laboratory. In the course of the sampling the customer told how the holes in the wall had come. “Over a thousand dollars would have cost this action,” says Mrs. Planer.
film strip system
The laboratory team of the Environmental Mycology in Berlin is always good for an innovation. Under the direction of Dr. Christoph Trautmann and Dr. Ingrid Dill the mold experts developed a test strip system for mold detection handling surface contact samples. Their motivation is obvious: The more accurate the building biologist working at the sampling, the safer is the analysis result. Unprofessional sampling, however, prepare the laboratory team a considerable overhead. Continue reading
expert measures wall moisture
Recently made in the press a report circulating that many mold remediation are not conducted properly. “Three quarters of the architect, building surveyor, construction and renovation contractor and lawyers assume that 70 percent of the renovations are flawed,” reported the director of the Institute Peridomus Dr. Gerhard Führer from Himmelstadt/Germany. Even if there should be ten or twenty percent fewer cases, the incidence of improper renovations would be a disaster for the affected residents. So-called “brush renovations” mean nothing else than that the moisture damage was simply painted over. The new tenant sees the problem not at first attempt and the landlord has his first sleep. Continue reading
you need the right equipment
In the particular case due to insufficient sealing masonry water of a multi-family house had fallen into the basement and had soaked a storage area of eighty square meters. Under the cement floor is a layer of insulation made of polystyrene. The added expert had to decide whether the floor is completely to remove or if drying measures are sufficient. The nature and severity of the mold colonization is to be analyzed by the microbiological laboratory.
Planning and implementation of the component opening
For larger areas, the sampling points are to be determined in advance and draw in a map. It has proven to number the holes in the plan. The various sampling bags have the same number, thus allowing the unambiguous assignment and subsequent documentation. Opening device for core drilling can be carried out with a diameter of 5-8 cm. A powerful and sharp drill bits makes the job easy. Continue reading
molds may trigger allergies
Typical symptoms of an allergy to molds are redness and itching, hives, conjunctivitis, sneezing and runny nose and asthma. If these symptoms, especially in the warm season, with moist warm weather, in humid areas, in rooms with mold spots or areas where plants or contact with the waste, which may be an indication of a mold sensitivity. Since molds occur regularly but in the outdoor and indoor air, to have a tentative diagnosis of “mold sensitivity” further studies are made. Continue reading