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 Mold Anatomy 101
  Mold, mildew and fungus all refer to the same thing - mold. Mushrooms and yeast are also mold.  Since mold does not have chlorophyll or use photosynthesis to make food, mold is not considered a plant. Mold does not have a stomach to digest food so it is not considered an animal. Since molds donít have stomachs they secret chemical enzymes onto building materials to digest them Ė the building materials and personal belonging that get wet in a home or office. The enzymes are responsible for the dark staining that accompanies mold growth.  
  Molds spores average about 1/10,000 of an inch. A single mold spore floating around in the air is invisible. For comparison, pollen is about five times larger and bacteria ten times smaller. A virus is as about one hundred times smaller than a mold spore.6  
  Molds consist of a mass of filament-like branches called hyphae or mycelium, and mold spores. The hyphae are similar to branches on a tree. Mold spores are like acorns or seeds. Mold reproduces by spores but mold growth can spread if a piece of hyphae is transplanted to an area with adequate moisture and food. Only the spores have pigment and color. The mold mass hyphae are colorless. Thus, until spores are produced, mold is not visible to the naked eye.  
  Contrary to common belief, the same species of mold can be several different colors including black, green, and brown, white or purple. Black mold may actually be white during the beginning of its growth cycle.  
  Shower Mildew  
  The black mildew on bathroom shower caulking may be toxic Stachybotrys. However typically there are not mold spores on bathroom caulking. The black coloration on shower caulking is not a health threat. Simply replace it. Mildew in the bathroom does not normally present a health hazard unless there are cracks in the tile grout. If there are cracks in the grout allowing water to leak into the wall cavity behind the shower or tub there can be hidden mold in the walls even if the surfaces looks clean. To prevent a nightmare associated with mold contamination keep tile grouted and cracks caulked. Even the smallest crack may let in enough water to cause a problem.  
  Kitchen and bathroom caulk have fungicides (pesticides) in them to prevent mold growth. These chemicals outgas overtime and eventually there is nothing left to prevent mold. If surfaces are continuously damp mold can eventually grow anyhow. There is no single chemical (pesticide) that is effective at killing everything. Chemicals are not the answer to control mold growth. Drying the tile surfaces and walls after showering and maintain grout and caulking is.  
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Revised: July 05, 2017.

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