Construction has moved to a focus on energy efficiency and other ways of reducing costs. This has resulted in more mold problems due to a reduction in a building’s access to fresh air and ability to shed moisture.
The problems are caused by:
Thermal insulation – Thermal insulation leads to a reduction in the drying potential of a building, which keeps moisture levels higher when the building gets wet.
Tight building enclosures – The tightness of modern day buildings dramatically decreases their air flow, similarly making it difficult to reduce moisture in a building.
Recirculated forced air heating and cooling – This has resulted in indoor pollution contributing to several health and safety issues.
The elimination of chimneys – Chimneys acted as effective methods for removing indoor pollution. With their removal, indoor air quality has decreased.
New materials – There has been a shift of construction materials to ones that now promote mold growth rather than prevent it. Plaster has shifted to drywall, which holds moisture. Pipes have gone from iron to copper to plastic – which is more likely to leak.
Air conditioning – Air conditioning ducts are often poorly insulated and can easily help mold travel throughout a building.
Clearly, these changes have been a double-edged sword. While they offer additional comforts and conveniences, they have also caused unforeseen health problems.