The presence of mold indicates that the relative humidity levels in an environment are high enough to support the fungus and their growth. When an organization experiences water damage, it has as little as 48 hours to take action before spores accumulate to noticeable or damaging levels. By taking quick action to dry wet papers and calling a professional that performs mold remediation for documents, you’ll reduce the damage that the items experience and halt the spread of spores.
Mold Diversity and Danger
Mold, like mildew, is a type of fungus. There are over 100,000 known types of fungus. Mold is everywhere and spreads as tiny spores through the air. If an office does not have an air filtration system, there’s a good chance of finding mold spores on walls, in carpeting or flooring, on papers and books, and in the ventilation system. When it’s dormant, mold may appear powdery. Active molds smear, appear fuzzy, have a range of colors, and or may stain documents.
Many types of mold are harmless as individual spores. Spores generally go unnoticed until they form colonies on a food source made from organic materials. Such materials include food, leaves, dust, cloth fibers, starches, wood, dirt, and items containing cellulose (e.g. paper). Mold becomes bothersome when large colonies form and trigger allergy symptoms in those who are sensitive to the spores. They may become dangerous around individuals who are sensitive to mold, have an upper respiratory illness, or have weak or compromised immune systems, such as the elderly, young children, individuals with asthma, or those undergoing chemotherapy.
Some types of mold are beneficial, such as those that age cheese or create penicillin. Others are toxic, even to healthy individuals. Dangerous molds sometimes produce mycotoxins, chemical compounds that are carcinogenic, genotoxic, or cause food-borne illnesses. Since it is difficult to know the exact types of mold in a building before a disaster occurs without comprehensive testing, it’s best to create an environment that does not promote their presence, as well as complete a disaster recovery plan that addresses recovering wet papers and mold remediation for documents.
Why Molds Grow on Documents
The paper contains cellulose, a type of organic matter that serves as a food source for some types of mold. When paper becomes wet or is in a humid environment, it attracts mold spores as they grow, feed, and reproduce on it.
To grow and thrive, mold spores need temperatures between 32° and 120° F. Optimal temperatures are generally between 70° and 90°. The most favorable conditions are also those with relative humidity levels of 50 percent or higher, poor ventilation, and prolonged dampness. Wet and damp documents make a great home for mold because they provide the food and water they need to survive and reproduce.
When an organization experiences water damage, a representative should contact a document restoration company like Polygon as soon as possible. Specialists will provide guidance regarding the safest ways to collect and store the affected documents until they arrive to perform water and mold remediation for documents. Quick action and working with a professional service prevents costly losses, salvages invaluable information, and prevents the spread of mold. Talk to a Polygon to learn more about mold remediation and creating a disaster preparedness and recovery plan for your organization.
[Photo from Steven Kay via CC License 2.0]