Difference between Mold and Mildew

Mold and mildew are both types of fungus that spreads through spores that attach to clothing or float through the air. Mold is a type of fungus that feeds on certain organic matter and mildew generally feeds on other types of organic matter. Both thrive in moist, warm environments.

Mold is more prevalent in spoiling of foods, while mildew is more prevalent in paper, fabrics and in showers. Molds are identified mostly by various colors of black, green, red or blue, while mildew is predominantly grey or white. Some dermatophyte fungi are molds that cause athletes foot and other parasitic skin disease that may be confused with yeast infections.

Pennicilum Marneffi and Aspergillius Fumigatus are two types of opportunistic mold infections that can be deadly to those who have compromised immune systems.

Two types of mildew are powdery (from ascomycota type of fungus) and downy (from the oomycota type of fungus). Powdery mildew is associated with plants,and their fruits, such as grapes and potatoes.

Mold and mildew digestive and decomposition processes can also produce minute amounts of gasses that may or may not produce detectable odor or irritation.

The problems for humans come from mycotoxins, or the byproducts of the ways in which molds and mildews  break substances down into nutrients. Molds which produce mycotoxins are called “Toxigenic molds”. Penicillin is a beneficial mycotoxin of a certain type of mold.

Other mycotoxins can cause neurological, respiratory problems as serious as pulmonary hemhorrage and severe allergic reactions, such as asthma, rhinitis and hypersensitivity pneumonias.

Extreme or prolonged exposure is the most serious threat, yet molds are easily dealt with by using bleach to clean, eliminating problems that create high moisture and warmth, and by even airing out places, such as homes that have good seals against the elements, that can build up humidity.

A major problem is the “Sick building syndrome”, where there is a conflict between sealing buildings to keep out drafts that run up energy usage for heating or cooling. Humans and pets generate enormous amounts of moisture from breathing, steamy baths and showers, cooking, doing laundry and running dishwashers. This moisture has nowhere to go when fresh air is not allowed to flow through the building. By opening a few windows for an hour or two a day, the moisture can be reduced.

Also, humidifiers and heating and cooling systems can build up pockets and pans of moisture that are mold habitats. Ensuring that these systems are kept free of buildup and using bleach to keep surfaces and spaces unfriendly to molds, the sealed building will not become such a sick building!

Wikipedia, “Mold Health Issues”