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Fire & Water - Cleanup & Restoration

Mold & Mildew, Understanding the Key Differences and Health Concerns

11/1/2017 (Permalink)

Mold and mildew are common problems, especially for homeowners who live in moist conditions or own properties by the coast. Mold and mildew are serious concerns in many parts of the country, but residents of Southern California, including the community of Oceanside are at special risk.

Mold and mildew are serious problems, and any kind of mold and mildew is unsightly. If you have mold or mildew in your home, your number one goal should be to have it removed as soon as possible. Even non-toxic mold can damage your home and harm the structural integrity of your property, but some forms of mold can actually put your health, and the health of your family at risk.

Understanding Mildew

Mold and mildew are both fungi, a classification that also includes mushrooms. Like mushrooms, mold and mildew thrive in moist conditions, including damp basements and places where water has been allowed to accumulate.

Mold and mildew also spread quite easily, so once the problem takes hold, it can be very hard to cure without professional advice and guidance. A small patch of mildew growing on your bathroom wall could easily grow out of control if you leave it alone, so you should not wait if you see the telltale signs.

Mildew is actually a type of mold, one with a flat growth pattern that generally remains on the surface where it is growing. That flat growth pattern makes mildew easier to remove than other types of mold, although professional remediation is still strongly recommended.

What is White Mold?

White mold, on the other hand, is what you see growing on food that has been left out too long. If you ever cleaned your fridge and found mysterious white hairs, you were probably looking at white mold.

White mold also grows easily on walls and crawlspaces, and inside permanent structures. You should look carefully for this common type of mold every time you clean, and definitely every time you go in your basement or crawlspace.

Mildew, on the other hand, is typically found on damp surfaces, including wallpaper that has been exposed to moisture, fabrics and various moist spaces around your home. While mildew is not as dangerous as some other forms of mold, however, it is still unsightly and it can still trigger reactions in those with respiratory conditions or compromised immune systems.

Types of Household Mold

There are a number of common mold types that invade houses, but those household molds are only a small subset of the mold varieties that exist in nature. More than 10,000 species of mold can survive indoors, but most homeowners will see only a handful of those varieties.

Some of these mold species can be quite harmful, but the most common form of dangerous mold is toxic black mold. Also known as Alternaria, toxic black mold typically grows on shower enclosures, on walls, under sinks and around windows. Toxic black mold can also take hold in other damp places, including basements and crawlspaces with a history of past flooding.


Despite its common name, Alternaria mold is not always black. Toxic black mold can also appear dark brown or grey, but no matter what its color it typically has a down-like or wooly texture.

Prolonged exposure to toxic black mold can trigger asthma attacks, allergic reactions and other serious health problems. If you suspect that black mold is growing in your home, you should contact a mold remediation specialist as quickly as possible. Like all forms of mold, toxic black mold grows quickly, and the health problems will get more serious as the mold spores grow larger.


Aspergillus is another common form of mold, and it is sometimes mistaken for the more serious toxic black mold. Like toxic black mold, Aspergillus can be grey, brown or black, but it may also appear in colors like yellow, green or white.

Aspergillus mold generally grows on insulation, paper products, walls and clothing. Like toxic black mold, Aspergillus can trigger an allergic reaction and cause problems for those with weakened immune systems and preexisting respiratory problems.


While most molds grow best in warm humid conditions, Cladosporium grows well in cool areas. This type of mold generally shows up on fabrics, including curtains and carpets, as well as wooden surfaces like floorboards and cabinetry. Cladosporium is typically black or olive green in color, and it can also trigger a number of respiratory conditions.


In the right venue, Penicillium is a lifesaver, but in your home it can be a problem. As the name implies, Penicillium is the mold that was originally used to make lifesaving antibiotics, and it is still an important drug.

Unfortunately, penicillium also grows well on surfaces that have been exposed to water, including carpets, wallpaper, insulation and old mattresses. Penicillium is typically blue or green, and it has a distinctive strong musty odor. Like other forms of mold, penicillium exposure can trigger allergic reactions in vulnerable people.

Stachybotrys Chartarum

You may hear Stachybotrys chartarum referred to as black mold, mainly because of its distinctive color, and this is the most serious and most dangerous form of household mold. That danger has earned Stachybotrys chartarum its other moniker - toxic black mold.

Unlike other forms of household mold, which are unsightly and dangerous mainly to those with respiratory problems and damaged immune systems, Stachybotrys chartarum releases a number of toxic compounds, and these compounds can be dangerous even to healthy adults and children.

These toxic compounds are known as mycotoxins, and they can produce some very serious health problems. These health issues include chronic sinus infections, difficulty breathing, asthma attacks, allergic reactions, depression and fatigue. If you or a family member has experienced any of these symptoms, you should have your home examined for toxic black mold.

A mold remediation expert can check your home and look for the telltale signs of toxic black mold. Toxic black mold has a distinctive musty odor, and it typically grows in places that are consistently damp, like basements prone to flooding, crawlspaces with water intrusion problems, around leaking pipes and inside of air conditioning ducts.

If you discover mold or mildew growing in your home, time is of the essence. Contacting a professional mold and mildew remediation service right away can mean the difference between a simple repair and months of hard work and expense.

When you have mold problems, you need the help of a trained professional, and you can find that professional at SERVPRO of Fallbrook / South Oceanside. We can help you protect your home and the integrity of your property, and we have the expertise needed to safeguard the health and family. Just give us a call at (760) 451-0600.

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