Mold: China’s Little Secret

PureLiving – we are China’s mold experts with nearly 100 completed mold testing and remediation projects in homes, schools, and offices.

What is Mold?

Mold is the common word for any fungus that grows on food or damp building materials.  It often looks like a stain and comes in a variety of colors.  In nature, mold helps decompose or break-down leaves, wood and other plant debris.  Molds become a problem when they grow where they are not wanted and digest materials such as our homes.  In some cases, ho wever, mold may not be visible but may have a musty odor. If allowed to grow, mold can contribute to poor indoor air quality and impact health.

Mold growth is driven by moisture.  Washing, cooking, air humidifiers, unvented clothes dryers, condensation and leaks from the outside all produce the kind of indoor moisture that mould needs to grow. Also, poor ventilation contributes to higher humidity levels and leads to condensation, which also allows mold to grow.

Why is this a problem in China?

Many foreigners are accustomed to looking for mold in walls, under carpets, and in basements.  However, these are not the usual suspects in China, where the construction material of choice is cement, bare floors are common, and few people deal with a basement.  Yet, the prevalence of humidifiers, abundance of rain in the spring and summer, the tightly sealed construction of new apartments, lack of insulation, and poor ventilation mean that mold still is very much a problem.  The largest part of the problem is that the low attention to mold issues and incorrect remediation results in a higher degree of unwitting exposure. Landlords often paint over mold, worsening the problem, or scrub it down, resulting in contamination to other rooms.

What is the health impact?

In order to reproduce or when disturbed, molds release small “spores” into the air and these spores are small enough that people can actually breathe them in.  These spores in turn may release microbial volatile organic compounds (MVOCs).  The musty, earthy odors that you smell when you enter an area with mold are created by these MVOCs.  Similar to VOCs released by manmade items and chemicals, MVOCs can cause adverse reactions in people.  Common symptoms:

  • Eye, nose and throat irritation
  • Headaches
  • Coughing and phlegm build-up
  • Wheezing and shortness of breath
  • Allergic reactions and triggering of asthma attacks

WHO research has found that damp and mold increases the risk of respiratory disease in children and adults by 50%[1].  Further, mold combined with dust mites may account for 20% of asthma prevalence[2].  At special risk are those who already have allergy sensitivities or asthma, lung disease, and also those with weakened immune systems.

A small number of molds produce toxins called mycotoxins. When people are exposed to mold mycotoxins they may suffer toxic effects, including fatigue, nausea, headaches, and irritation to the lungs and eyes.  Infants have developed bleeding in their lungs.  In rare cases, most famously with what is popularly called, “toxic black mold,” mycotoxins can lead to fatalities.

In addition to the health impact, mold causes physical damage, spreads quickly, and can be very costly for homeowners if not quickly and effectively resolved.

Worried? Read on to find what solutions are available…

PureLiving – we are China’s mold experts with nearly 100 completed mold testing and remediation projects in homes, schools, and offices.


[1] WHO statistics: http://www.euro.who.int/en/what-we-do/health-topics/environmental-health/air-quality/facts-and-figures

[2] WHO report citing Melse and de Hollander, 2001.

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Mold: China’s Little Secret

  1. China mold says:

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