White Mold. It’s definitely no one’s favorite word in the English language. Just the term itself is scary, off-putting and uninviting, like moldy bread and black bananas. But what is white mold, and most importantly, is it dangerous to you and your family?
White mold is an encompassing term that applies to many species of mold that can grow in homes. While not as infamous as its cousin, black mold, it is a clear threat to your home’s livability. Like any mold, it can compromise your property and health if you don’t remove it.
What is White Mold?
White mold is a powdery, stringy, flakey or filmy substance that can change color or remain white, making it sometimes difficult to identify on some surfaces where it is able to blend in. It is a frequent invader of households with damp and humid conditions, which are beachfront conditions for this troublesome nuisance. Its favorite hangout spots are attics, basements, crawl spaces, carpets and wood.
Thankfully, it’s easy to spot via its distinctive white film on surfaces that have been left damp for a long times, including carpet and wallpaper. Its trademark odor (often musty), color, texture and fluffiness are telltale signs of its presence in your homes.
White mold is not a specific type of mold. Instead, it is a fungus belonging to a family of mold, including aspergillus, Cladosporium and penicillium. Its texture resembles a mushroom. And, like all molds, it thrives and grows in areas where a food source like wood is readily available.
What Causes White Mold?
As we mentioned, white mold can thrive in ideal growing conditions. Its growth and spread is caused by:
- High Humidity
- Organic Food Sources
- Warm Temperatures
And, when present, white mold can become a living, breathing home health hazard. Inhalation of white mold spores can cause mold-induced asthma, allergic fungai sinusitis, hypersensitivity, pneumonitis and allergic bronchopulmonary aspergillosis, even more respiratory infections, eye irritations, dizziness, nausea, headaches, and even depression.
Is this White Mold, Mildew or Efflorescence?
White mold is a smart chameleon. It can grow on almost anything, from plants to fabrics to food and other organic materials like drywall, wood and carpeting. It can remain white or change to green, black, gray or practically any other color it chooses over time.
It is easy to confuse white mold with mildew, which often also has a white appearance. A clear difference between the two molds is mildew rarely grows on surfaces other than plants and doesn’t destroy materials.
In contrast, white mold infiltrates the surface of porous materials like wood or drywall and can ruin them.
White mold is also mistaken for efflorescence, a salt deposit caused by salty water that seeps through concrete, brick or stone. As water evaporates, it leaves behind a white crystalline substance similar to white mold. But unlike white mold, efflorescence does not pose health risks and won’t grow or spread.
The million dollar mold question: How do I know if I have white mold or efflorescence?
First, look at the affected surface. If it has a masonry look, it’s efflorescence. Next, try a water test. Put some of the substance in a drop of water. If it dissolves, it’s not mold. Finally, squeeze some of the substance between your fingers. If the material breaks into a fine powder, it’s efflorescence.
A Bad News Mold
Remember, the only news white mold brings is bad news. Generally, it’s not necessary to determine the type of mold you have in your home, for there are no good molds. All molds have the same negative effects on your home, and put your family and pets’ health at stake. If you notice white mold in your home, immediately call a certified mold removal and restoration expert.
Knowing how to spot the presence and ideal conditions of white mold can enable you to keep this unpleasant fungi pest out of your home and away from your family.