Basements: Is That Mold?

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Orlando Basements: Could that Smell be Mold?

In some parts of the country, many homes and buildings are built with basements. These areas are sometimes used for living space or as an unfinished area that provides convenient storage and a place for a building's utilities to be housed.

Many people with basements complain of unpleasant odors. This musty smell may be an indication of a mold problem. Basements frequently suffer from water and moisture problems that can easily result in mold issues that may even spread and cause concern for other areas of the home or building.

Some compounds produced by mold have strong odors and are volatile so they can be quickly released into the air. These compounds are known as microbial volatile organic compounds or mVOCs. Because mVOCs often have strong or unpleasant odors, they can be the source of the "moldy odor" frequently associated with mold growth in a basement.

The health effects of inhaling mVOCs are largely unknown, although exposure to mVOCs has been linked to symptoms such as headaches, nasal irritation, dizziness, fatigue and nausea. More research is needed to determine the possible human health effects from non-occupational indoor exposures to these compounds.

Aside from obvious flooding scenarios, moisture can enter a basement in many ways. Some of the more common sources include moisture entering through wall or floor cracks, mortar joints or by bleeding and sweating into the basement. Other common sources include condensation on pipes that are not insulated and even clothes dryers that are not properly vented to the outside.

If mold is growing in the basement, it could pose a health concern for not only people who spend time in the basement, but any airborne mold spores and mVOCs could potentially spread throughout the property through the HVAC system or other means.

These are just a few things to know about mold, basements and indoor air quality issues.