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Fire & Water - Cleanup & Restoration

What Causes Mold Odor?

11/26/2018 (Permalink)

Why SERVPRO What Causes Mold Odor? Mold hiding inside a wall in a Hamilton,GA building

The musty odor characteristic of mold is caused by microbial volatile organic compounds. Just because mold is growing does not mean that mycotoxin is present. Learn about the differences between MVOCs, spores, and mycotoxins and the origin of a moldy odor in a building in Hamilton Mill, GA.

What Are MVOCs?

MVOCs are gaseous compounds produced by the metabolism of fungi during the active growth cycle. The most common MVOCs include:

  • Alcohols
  • Aldehydes
  • Butanoic acid
  • Esters
  • Ethers
  • Ketones
  • Sulphur and nitrogen compounds
  • Terpenes
  • Thiols

Industrial hygienists can sample and test MVOC levels. This analysis will determine which types of microbes are growing in a building.

Are MVOCs the Same as Spores?

MVOCs are chemicals and are not the same as mold spores. Spores are not the cause of musty odor. Mold spores can:

  • Spread to damp surfaces with food sources
  • Withstand conditions hostile to mold growth
  • Range in size from three to 40 microns

Spores may spread more readily when dry. HEPA air filtration devices can filter spores out of interior air.

Are MVOCs the Same as Mycotoxin?

Mycotoxins are another product of fungal metabolism, but these substances are not the same as MVOCs. Whereas MVOCs are off-gases that are not desirable, but should not be seriously harmful, mycotoxins should be eliminated. There are several common types of mycotoxins:

  • Aflatoxin
  • Citrinum
  • Ergot alkaloids
  • Fumonisins
  • Ochratoxin A
  • Patulin
  • Trichothecenes

Not every type of mold produces mycotoxins. The only way to determine whether a fungus growing in a structure is emitting these toxins is to have professional testing done.

If you smell a moldy odor in a building, look around for visible fungal growth. Do not puncture walls or surfaces to find hidden colonies, as this can release spores or mycotoxin into the air and cause mold to spread. To eliminate the presence of fungus, contact a mold remediation company in Hamilton Mill, GA.

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