Frequently Asked Questions
Fungi (Mold), Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) New York State Mold Regulation Fact Sheet
New York State has passed mold regulations that require the licensure of mold assessment and remediation specialists and setting minimum work standards for mold assessment and remediation specialists. The regulation amends chapter 551 of the labor laws of 2014 relating to requiring the licensure of mold assessment and remediation specialists and setting minimum work standards for mold assessment and remediation specialists.
What are molds (fungi)?
"Mold" means any indoor, multi-cellular fungi growth capable of creating toxins that can cause pulmonary, respiratory, neurological or other major illnesses after minimal exposure, as such exposure is defined by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), National Institute of Health (NIH), or other federal, state, or local agency organized to study and/or protect human health. Molds are a large and taxonomically diverse number of fungal species where the growth of hyphae results in discoloration and a fuzzy appearance, especially on food. Molds can be found almost anywhere; they can grow on virtually any organic substance, as long as moisture and oxygen are present. There are molds that can grow on wood, paper, carpet, foods, and insulation. When excessive moisture accumulates in buildings or on building materials, mold growth will often occur, particularly if the moisture problem remains undiscovered or unaddressed. It is impossible to eliminate all mold and mold spores in the indoor environment.
What are some common indoor fungi (molds)?
Penicillium/Aspergillus: The most common mold species to show up in Indoor Air Samples. Most of the hundreds of sub-species are allergenic with only a few that are toxic. This group of species will grow with only the humidity in the air as its water source. An A/C failure will allow this mold to start growing on walls, furniture and clothing.
Cladosporium: The most common mold species and is considered to be an allergenic.
Curvularia: This is another common allergenic mold.
Chaetomium: This is a common water marker that usually indicates wet paper and/or drywall.
Stachybotrys – An excellent water marker and the most common toxic mold species.
Stachybotrys Chartarum is the sub-species that need a direct water source to grow. This includes a window, roof or plumbing leak.
Memnoniella – A sister mold to Stachybotrys. The two species will grow together. It is also considered toxic.
What are health effects of molds?
Some individuals are more sensitive to molds that others. For these people, exposure to molds can cause symptoms such as nasal stuffiness, eye irritation, wheezing, or skin irritation. Some people, such as those with serious allergies to molds, may have more severe reactions. Severe reactions may include fever and shortness of breath. Some people with chronic lung illnesses, such as obstructive lung disease, may develop mold infections in their lungs.
Are there any laws or acceptable stadards for mold levels in homes?
Standards for judging what is an acceptable, tolerable, or normal quantity of mold have not been established. The results of samples taken in your unique situation cannot be interpreted without physical inspection of the contaminated area or without considering the building’s characteristics and the factors that led to the present condition.
According to the National Allergy Bureau, reporting the NAB SCALE (National Allergy Bureau) of mold and pollen counts, considers mold counts in outdoor air of 0-6499 spores per cubic meter of air as low, to 6500 to 12,999 spores per cubic meter of air as moderate, to 13,000 to 49,999 spores per cubic meter of air as high, and above 50,000 as very high. At “high” levels, most individuals with any sensitivity will experience symptoms. Click here for outdoor mold counts near your geographic location.
How to decrease mold exposure?
In commercial real estate, mold can be a problem within vacant properties sitting idle, or in occupied buildings experiencing plumbing leaks, leaking windows or building envelops. In residential settings these same structural problems are often found to be the culprit. In either case, fungal growth can be slowed by removing the items needed for amplication of mold: moisture souce and food source. Controlling humidity levels and ventilating showers and cooking areas is also important for controlling mold control. Mold growth can also be curbed if the areas undergoing water infiltration can be dried out quickly (preferably withing 24 hours). Removing, or immediately drying out wet building materials can greatly reduce the chances that mold will amplify. Mold can also removed from hard surfaces with commercial products, soap and hot water or a diluted bleach solution. JLC generally doesn't recommend using bleach solution as it can have harmful effects on the user and can adversely effect common substrates like wood or sheetrock.
Other tips for reducing mold growth at your property:
Keep humidity levels as low as you can—no higher than 50%--all day long. An air conditioner or dehumidifier will help do so. Bear in mind that humidity levels change over the course of a day with changes in the moisture in the air and the air temperature, so you will probably need to check the humidity levels more than once a day.
Use an air conditioner or a dehumidifier during humid months.
Be sure the home has adequate ventilation, including exhaust fans.
Add mold inhibitors to paints before application.
Clean bathrooms with mold killing products.
Do not carpet bathrooms and basements.
Remove or replace previously soaked carpets and upholstery.
What are common sources of indoor air problems?
Indoor pollution sources that release gases or particles into the air are the primary cause of indoor air quality problems in homes. Inadequate ventilation can increase indoor pollutant levels by not bringing in enough outdoor air to dilute emissions from indoor sources and by not carrying indoor air pollutants out of the home. High temperature and humidity levels can also increase concentrations of some pollutants.
Where can i find additional Local Law 55 information?
NYC Indoor Allergen Hazards Page