What is mould?

The life-cycle of a mould starts from the spore.

Spores are loosely comparable to seeds in the vegetable kingdom, they are minute and are ubiquitous in the air.The more humid the air, the greater the concentration of spores.

Because of their small size, spores are carried long distances by air currents and only settle on surfaces in very still air, the spores can stay dormant for long periods of time, but when the conditions are right they will germinate.

The necessary conditions for germination are generally temperatures of 10-35c with optima of 20c and above, relative humidities greater than 70% to give a high enough moisture content in the material for fungal growth. Wood becomes vulnerable to fungal attack when it has a moisture content above 20%, which equates to a relative humidity of above 80%, suitable organic foodstuffs include paper, leather, wood, organic dirt, soiling and treatments such as leather dressings.

In general, mould growth is encouraged by dark conditions and a lack of air movement, but other factors can influence development. If conditions are suitable, the spores will 'germinate' and produce hair-like hyphae which both penetrate into the material and grow on the surface of the object.

Hyphae are filaments that are the growing stage of the mould, they secrete enzymes at their tips which dissolve organic material.The resulting solution is absorbed back by the hyphae and used as food for growth. When a mass of hyphae are present, the fungal colony is known as a mycelium. Mycelia exist in two basic types: vegetative mycelia which penetrate deep into the material to grow and reproductive mycelia which grow on the surface as visible mould.

When the colony is mature, the reproductive mycelium can change to produce sporophores which are specialised hyphae containing spores which are dispersed into the air to create new colonies. Monitoring for fungi is normally carried out by monitoring the ambient relative humidity of the environment and measuring the moisture contents of objects. In general, organic materials in an environment with relative humidities over 70% are vulnerable to mould growth, this is because organic materials absorb moisture at high humidities to a point when they can support fungal growth. Where mould is already present, lower humidities and moisture content may still continue to support mould growth for some time, good preventative measures include low temperatures below 10c which inhibits spore germination and slows growth. Very low temperatures (-40c) will eventually kill fungi, low relative humidity below 70%

To reduce the equilibrium moisture content of materials to a level where fungi cannot grow, ensure the building is watertight and do not allow damp to penetrate through the fabric from blocked drains, faulty roofs or other building defects. Keep material off floors and away from outside walls, especially cold, north facing walls as these may be liable to high humidities and condensation. Increase ventilation where possible with fans, etc. opening doors and windows periodically on dry day install dehumidifiers in all rooms where necessary. Treatment of mould outbreaks, active mould attack should be addressed with caution as the mycelium and spores are respiratory sensitisers and can cause allergic reactions in some people.

If you have a mould problem please contact us on 0161-211-9311 mobile 07949277453 or email mail@mouldtreatmentservices

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