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Spring = Molds!

March 28, 2017 0 Comments

Spring = Molds!

Yes, that's right. In Hong Kong, where humidity is very very high, Spring = Molds!  Molds are present all year round, and the best time for them to grow and multiply is in warm and humid weather - typically from March to November in Hong Kong.

It's so humid that we will see walls "sweat" in a few weeks. But what does this mean to us, aside from scrubbing our walls and grouts, and everything else in between clean?

Molds are natural part of the environment. Outdoors, molds help decompose organic matter. However, indoors, it's bad for us! Molds potentially cause allergic reactions, respiratory problems (sick building syndrome).

Some symptoms of mold exposure:

  • nasal and sinus congestion
  • runny nose
  • eye irritation
  • itchy, red, watery eyes
  • respiratory problems, such as wheezing and difficulty breathing
  • chest tightness
  • cough
  • throat irritation
  • skin irritation (such as a rash)
  • headache
  • persistent sneezing

Where can I find molds?

Molds are everywhere! They can be found in household and workplace dust. They reproduce by spores, not visible to the naked eye, carried by air current. They grow on anything moist - like your airconditioner! They look like big chunks of dust (but they're not!). Those that have grown and are very visible - walls, upholstery, tile grouts, sink, etc.

Signs of hidden molds

According to Wikipedia

Mold is detectable by smell and signs of water damage on walls or ceiling, and can grow in places invisible to the human eye. It may be found behind wallpaper or paneling, on the inside of ceiling tiles, the back of drywall, or the underside of carpets or carpet padding. Piping in walls may also be a source of mold, since they may leak (causing moisture and condensation).

Spores need three things to grow into mold: nutrients - cellulose (the cell wall of green plants) is a common food for indoor spores; moisture - To begin the decaying process caused by mold; time -mold growth begins from 24 hours to 10 days after the provision of growing conditions.

Mold colonies can grow inside buildings, and the chief hazard is the inhalation of mycotoxins. After a flood or major leak, mycotoxin levels are higher even after a building has dried out.

Food sources for mold in buildings include cellulose-based materials such as wood, cardboard and the paper facing on drywall and organic matter such as soap, fabrics and dust-containing skin cells. If a house has mold, the moisture may originate in the basement or crawl space, a leaking roof or a leak in plumbing pipes. Insufficient ventilation may accelerate moisture buildup. Visible mold colonies may form where ventilation is poorest and on perimeter walls (because they are nearest the dew point).

If there are mold problems in a house only during certain times of the year, the house is probably too airtight or too drafty. Mold problems occur in airtight homes more frequently in the warmer months (when humidity is high inside the house, and moisture is trapped), and occur in drafty homes more frequently in the colder months (when warm air escapes from the living area and condenses). If a house is artificially humidified during the winter, this can create conditions favorable to mold. Moving air may prevent mold from growing, since it has the same desiccating effect as low humidity. Molds grow best in warm temperatures, 77 to 86 °F (25 to 30 °C), although growth may occur between 32 and 95 °F (0 and 35 °C).

Removing one of the three requirements for mold reduces (or eliminates) new mold growth: moisture; food for the mold spores (for example, dust or dander); and warmth since mold generally does not grow in cold environments.

Airconditioning (HVAC) systems can produce all three requirements for mold growth. The airconditioning system creates a difference in temperature, encouraging condensation. The high rate of dusty air movement through an HVAC system may furnish ample food for mold. Since the air-conditioning system is not always running, warm conditions are the final component for mold growth.

Your airconditioner - the best way to spread molds indoors!

You might be wondering why you have some of the symptoms above especially when you wake up in the morning and your airconditioning is on all night. Why? First, a lot of people do not suspect that molds can also grow on cooling coils and condensate trays and diffuser and thought regular cleaning of filters is good enough. That's what I thought too, until Mr. Leo (an Aussie guy who is hands down the expert in environmentally-friendly aircon cleaning - call him at 9852 5928), educated me on how molds look like in home aircons (commercial aircons/air ducts are another story which I'm more familiar with). I told him, my aircons are clean as they are new (around a year old that time) - and he cleaned half of the aircon first to show me the difference. In my aircon, the difference is not that big, but I can see it.
Now back to the topic - yes, the airconditioner is the best way to spread molds indoors! Especially since this is how we "air" our home. Imagine the molds growing in the aircon and being spread by the air coming out of the aircon! Not nice! Even if you have your airpurifier on, it's only able to purifiy air that it can suck. You usually use your airpurifier with your aircon, so while your airpurifier is busy purifying the air, your aircon is busy spreading molds and germs.

Gelair - Tea Tree Oil - Nature's Best

Did you know that Tea tree oil is effective against mold, bacteria, and viruses? To demonstrate, we used agar plates (that grow molds) and just look at these agar plates:
Gelair solution is the liquid Gelair (tea tree oil, emulsifier, and surfactant) for cleaning surfaces, especially designed for porous and/or vertical surfaces.
Gelair Health-e Split is 100% tea tree oil designed to be put easily between the filter and cooling coils of your window/split aircon. It treats the air that passes through the aircon and the aircon itself. It lasts from 6 to 12 weeks depending on how frequent you use the aircon. During winter, you can still use Gelair Health-e Split by operating your aircon in fan mode. The smell of tea tree oil may be strong in the beginning, but you will not smell it after a few days.
At home, we use Gelair Health-e Split for over a year now. And we got very positive response from our customers in trade, that we've decided to make it available to consumers. Customers keep on talking about how great it is in eradicating mold exposure symptoms, prevention of visible molds, and removing unexplained unpleasant smells at home.

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