Technology Today

Mold and the roofing industry

During the past several years, there has been increasing discussion and concern regarding mold and mildew in buildings and possible resulting "sick building" syndrome, the physical effects of biological growth in buildings on buildings' occupants. This topic is not new; the recent furor appears to have started several years ago after CBS' "48 Hours" aired a news segment about toxic mold titled "Invisible Killers."

Since then, there have been an alarming number of mold-related claims and lawsuits filed by building owners in California. But the claims are not limited to the West Coast. In Chicago, for example, NRCA has received reports that a $250,000 residence recently was torn down and another residence is undergoing more than $160,000 in repairs as a result of mold claims. In these cases, roof leakage and moisture infiltration from ice damming specifically are cited.

Mold and mildew

Mold and mildew often are used as colloquial terms for many types of biological growth from any number of fungi species. For such biological growth to occur, mold spores must be present; a sufficient nutrient base must be available; temperatures must be between 40 F and 100 F (4 C and 38 C); and there needs to be moisture. Mold spores almost always are present in interior and exterior air, and almost all commonly used building materials can support mold growth. In addition, buildings' interior temperatures usually are within the ideal range for fungi growth. Therefore, attempting to control moisture typically is viewed as the most practical way to minimize biological growth.