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Understanding Mold Growth

Mold Growth in Home

Mold growth occurs when conditions are favorable. These conditions include:

  • Moisture

    This can come in the form of humid air, dripping pipes, or water intrusion due to flooding. Mold will grow when the relative humidity is roughly 50 percent or higher.

  • Food

    Mold will feed on wood, paper, cotton, and leather. Drywall with its paper coating offers ideal food for mold spores. Mold can grow in dirt or dust if the conditions are right.

  • Right Temperature

    Spores will proliferate in temperatures ranging from above freezing to below 120 degrees. Summer-like temperatures (70-90 degrees) are especially conducive to mold growth.

  • Time

    Mold growth can occur in 24 hours or it may take as long as 10 days, depending on the conditions.

  • Stagnant Air

    Insufficient ventilation contributes to moisture buildup.

Mold is an opportunistic pathogen, which means it will take advantage of any conditions favoring its growth. According to Michael Pugliese, author of The Homeowner's Guide to Mold:

Its spores can travel to neighboring rooms, land there, and not grow at all. They can sit there dormant for months or even years. Then one day the right combination of temperature and humidity will activate them, allowing them to germinate and start growing. That's why, during the remediation process, proper containment is a must to prevent cross-contamination.

In the photo above and the photos that follow, you'll see what can happen when the conditions are favorable for mold growth. This home was unoccupied and on the market for sale. The furnace was inadvertently shut off during freezing weather, and when the temperatures rose, pipes burst and water leaks occurred. The lack of ventilation only added to the problem.

Mold Growth in Home

Mold Growth in Home

Mold Growth in Home

Mold commonly appears as black or brown. However, as seen above, it can appear in a variety of colors. According to Pugliese:

No mold growing in a home is good mold—period. Whether the mold is white, black, green, maroon, turquoise, gold, or brown, it is still mold, and at some point it may produce spores or gases known to create adverse health conditions to human beings and pets.

It is imperative that we remain vigilant when it comes to our indoor environments. Understanding what causes mold to grow can go a long way toward keeping us safe and healthy at home, work, or school.


"Our family has been out of our home for 9 months due to mold... I am so scared and weak from all of this. We have lost friends; family members don't understand."

– Anonymous

"My daughter has had many blood samples taken to test for everything imaginable and her doctor just seems puzzled. Everything comes back normal."

– Anonymous

"I have been sick for almost 6 months now and doctors were not able to figure out why. I finally put it all together after going away for vacation for a week and suddenly my symptoms were going away."

– Anonymous

"We were having a lot of health problems and had been to the doctor countless times... we had large circles of slimy greenish-black mold on the bathroom ceiling, where it had caved in a few months before."

– C.

"I've been living in a mold-infested home for 13 months... I was going CRAZY! Finally figured it out... Just a few days of recovering in a mold-free home and I feel AMAZING!!!"

– Lauren

"I knew it was mold, but doctors kept telling me I had anxiety. I was sitting in my office and could not remember who I was talking to, or what we were talking about."

– Brenda

"I had been struggling with headaches, head fog, breathing difficulties (unable to get a full breath), constant scalp tingling, migraines, nausea, feeling spacey/detached, and severe itchy skin."

– Anonymous

"My daughter started having digestive problems... heart palpitations... coughing episodes... muscle/joint pain... asthma/allergies... Her doctor finally advised me to check for mold in our home."

– Anonymous

"We had some water leaks in our home... we never thought we needed to clean out and remove the floor, the ceiling, or the drywall... my two small children and I have remained constantly sick for years in this home."

– Mia

"Both of my sons went downhill quickly and coughed for months... They both lost their ability to read, had profound vision disturbances, and had phenomenal gastric issues."

– Lee

"The entire time we lived in our (mold-infested) house the kitchen sponge would get musty smelling within 3-4 days. It was so strange. I had to buy a pack of sponges nearly every week."

– Anonymous

"We all suffered from headaches, hormonal body temperature fluctuations, brain fog, fatigue, difficulty breathing, thrush, rashes, and yeast infections... we vacated our home two weeks ago."

– Anonymous

" age 35 or 36 I started to become allergic to everything, and I got asthma at age 36... I went to doctor after doctor after doctor and was desperate for help, but nobody could help me."

– Mia

"The ERMI mold test as well as your helpful articles and Toxic Talk Tuesday programs have helped us avoid a terrible mistake in purchasing a new home."

– Angela

"In my moldy home if I left the wet clothes in the washer they would get musty very quickly and I'd have to re-wash... Sometimes I'd run a load, go to work, and they'd be musty when I returned that evening."

– Anonymous

"I started finding myself sitting on the floor in rooms of my house and not remembering how I got there, what I was doing before, or how long I had been there."

– Brenda

"My symptoms persisted and eventually turned into lethargy and depression. At the age of 26, I required a nap every evening after work."

– Jennifer

"I'm new at this, but today I cleaned my bathroom with baking soda and vinegar. It's much better not having those strong chemical smells afterwards."

– Anonymous

"I was skeptical at first that these (natural cleaning) products would work, but they work better than the stuff I buy at the store! We will soon be moving to the personal care products as well!"

– Jennifer

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