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Household Fungus Contributes To;Sick Building Syndrome  
Sunday, 03 October 2004


ST. PAUL, MN - Have you found yourself suffering shortness of breath, headaches, acid reflux or are you just not feeling quite right, but you can't attribute it to any specific cause? Perhaps you've found it hard to concentrate and you feel fatigued easily, but haven't been able to figure out why. If you live or work in a house or building that has been flooded, or has sustained water damage, these symptoms may be a sign that you are affected by "sick building syndrome." Your environment may be toxic to your health, yet you probably have never even heard of one of the culprits, the fungus Stachybotrys chartarum.


Managing a Mold Invasion  
Posted by Susan Lillard  
Sunday, 03 October 2004

Mold, a common term for fungal growth, is one of the most serious and underappreciated sources of damage to library, archival, and museum materials. Mold will grow on any organic host material offering suitable nutrients, including paper, adhesives, leather, dust, and sooty dirt. Some types of mold prefer the easily digested starches, gums, and gelatin found in book bindings, paper size, and some design media, whereas others attack and digest the cellulose that composes paper, causing irreversible weakening and staining. Although mold sometimes appears on only a few items in a collection, it often affects many items in a particular area, resulting in a mold bloom. Since the spores from which mold grows are everywhere in the environment, a sudden mold bloom in a collection indicates that a change has occurred in the environment to cause the spores to germinate. The mold species that most commonly attack library and archival materials, art on paper, photographic prints and negatives, and other paper-based artifacts germinate and grow when the relative humidity reaches or exceeds 70-75 percent and remains at this level for several days. High temperatures, poor air circulation, dim light, and accumulated grime assist and accelerate the growth of mold once it has germinated, but only high relative humidity and moisture contents of the substrate can initiate and sustain mold growth. If the relative humidity drops below 70 percent and the materials lose their high moisture content to the atmosphere, these molds will stop growing and become inactive or dormant, but the spores will remain viable on the host material. They will become active and begin growing again if the relative humidity rises. This bulletin provides guidelines for recovering from a mold outbreak for archivists, librarians, museum personnel, and private collectors.


Mold and Sick Buildings
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