Although you may hear the terms mold and mildew used synonymously, there are distinctive differences between the two microorganisms. Here are four questions answered about the characteristics of the two fungi, and how each can impact your home and health differently.

What’s the Difference Between Mold and Mildew?

When it comes to appearance, mold typically has a raised, slimy, or fuzzy look, and can vary in color—from black, to green, to red, or even blue. Black mold tends to look like a black stain and usually grows in a circular pattern, so keep an eye out for round patches that grow together—ranging from less than 1 inch to growths that are significantly larger. Black mold is typically found in spaces with higher moisture—namely areas that have experienced flooding. It’s important to know that mold may burrow beneath surfaces, whereas mildew does not.

Mildew is usually white or gray in appearance and may have a powder-like texture. When it comes to its growth tendencies, mildew is a surface mold that stays flat as it develops.

Can a Mold Test Kit Find Mold That’s Growing Inside of Your Walls?

Getting rid of mold on your walls is critically important, but mold can also grow inside of your walls and you need to know how to detect it in order to make sure it is completely remediated. Mold test kits detect airborne spores. If the spores inside of a wall are in the air, they will be identified. Other than that, a test may not detect mold growing inside of your walls.


Are There Differences in Health Risks?

There are greater health risks associated with mold exposure than with mildew. Mildew can cause watery eyes, coughing, sore throat, wheezing, difficulty breathing, skin irritation, and fatigue. However, in addition to those illnesses, mold exposure can impact the nervous system and cause headaches, memory loss, mood swings, and even depression.


Can You Be Tested for Exposure to Mold?

There are tests designed to determine if you’ve been exposed to mold, but they aren’t always reliable. It may be best to consult your primary care physician so they can evaluate your symptoms and conduct skin-prick tests or blood tests to ascertain your sensitivity to mold.

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