What is mould?
Biologically, mould is a collective term for fungi that grow with a thread-like structure. In total there are currently over 60,000 known types. In the natural world, fungi – similar to bacteria – have the task of breaking down organic material (e.g. compost) to convert it into recyclable substances and to provide nutrients for plants. Humans utilise these properties in very different ways; as elements for refining foods, e.g. in cheese or salami, but also in medicine (as penicillin).
Is mould dangerous?
Although the above-mentioned examples are useful, mould can also be detrimental to humans. For example if there is a mould infestation in a room, the fungus can pollute the airways and trigger allergic reactions, as well as headaches, fatigue and rashes.
What are spores?
Spores are fungi reproductive organs, which we encounter everywhere in the environment; in the air around us and in dust, but also in potting compost. They usually consist of round cells which average 0.01 mm in size, and disseminate in the air like dust particles. If they land on a surface that provides favourable survival conditions, they immediately begin to colonise the surface.
How does mould form?
Moulds and their spores are found everywhere in the environment. Due to their size, they are not visible to the naked eye, and can only be seen when they accumulate in large numbers. They are dispersed by wind. If they land on surfaces with conditions favourable to their survival, they begin to colonise the surface. Conditions are favourable when the climate is warm and humid. The spores can then germinate. Initially forming as a "germ tube", with a good supply of nutrients, a network of threads is typically formed: the mycelium. Then new spores grow.
Best conditions for fungi
High humidity levels combined with high temperatures are often provided in bathrooms and showers. Naturally, in this environment, the fungi are often exposed to water vapour and warmth. Another factor to consider is the sealant around joints. It’s concave shape attracts dust deposits. In addition, shampoo or skin cells, not visible to the naked eye, can be found here. Together, these form an ideal breeding ground for mould. It is easy to see that it is not the joint sealant that is the problem in terms of the formation of mould, but rather the organic dirt deposits on its surface. The sealant is really just the host.
At a glance:
- A humidity level greater than 80%.
- A temperature of 20°C - 35°C.
- A suitable breeding ground (dust and other dirt particles)
- Little air movement (promotes the layering of the fungal spores)
How to prevent mould
What can you do to avoid it? If you know about the conditions in which mould thrives, you can also be aware of how to prevent it. You can find out more here.