Mold and yeast are both members of the fungi family. Though their life cycles and how they interact with humans can be vastly different. Fungi exist everywhere in nature and can sometimes be in high concentrations in our homes.
What Is Yeast?
Yeast is a common type of fungus found in nature. It can even be cultured for industrial purposes. Yeast’s taxonomic name is Saccharomyces Cerevisiae. It has unicellular properties that give it an almost oval shape when viewed through a microscope. It’s also worth noting that yeast requires an organic host to provide the nutrition it needs to thrive and reproduce.
The Benefits of Yeast
Different types of yeast have been used by human beings for thousands if not tens of thousands of years. This includes baker’s yeast which helps many types of leavened bread to rise. Brewer’s yeast helps ferment things like beer and wine.
The Possible Harmful Effects of Yeast
It is also possible for human beings to suffer from yeast infections. This is where certain strains of yeast become out of balance with the body, overpopulating parts of the body such as the mucus membranes. There is also a small percentage of the human population who are allergic to nutritional forms of yeast.
What Does Yeast Look Like?
Yeast is generally pale in color, and often monochromatic. It usually feels smooth to the touch. Though the lack of color makes it hard to identify yeast in the early stages.
Where Does Yeast Grow?
Yeast thrives best when it has access to some type of sucrose. This means you are more likely to see it on plants and fruits. Though certain types of yeast can exist in the soil. Yeast can also live in the human body in a symbiotic way that doesn’t cause harm, so long as it remains in balance with the immune system and other biological functions.
What Is Mold?
Mold is another type of common fungus. Mold has a complex multicellular relationship that lets it act as an organism. This means that you typically find mold growing in colonies. Each mold cell in the colony has the same genetic structure. Mold is incapable of using photosynthesis like plants do and needs to derive its nutrition from some type of organic medium. Though most strains of mold are more versatile than yeast.
Mold reproduces by releasing spores from an active, mature colony. These spores then carry on the breeze landing at random. When these spores land on a porous, biological material with sufficient warmth and moisture, they can germinate into a new active mold colony. This is how most strains of mold complete their life cycle.
The Beneficial Uses of Mold
One of the great things about mold is that certain strains can be used to make critical medications. This includes antibiotics like penicillin, which is used to help the human body fight a wide range of diseases. Some types of molds are even recruited for curing meats, cheese, and charcuterie.
The Possible Harmful Effects of Mold
Mold spores that find a way to germinate in your home or office can have a variety of negative effects on your health. Mold spores tend to come with mycotoxins. Even if the mold in your indoor environment is from a relatively benign strain can cause respiratory irritation, which manifests as sneezing and coughing.
Individuals with respiratory allergies and asthma might have flareups or more frequent asthma attacks. It can also lead to congestion issues that seem to mimic symptoms of the common cold. Some individuals with autoimmune and chronic inflammation conditions might also have symptomatic reactions and flare ups if they spend a lot of time in an environment with a high concentration of airborne mold spores.
Left unchecked mold can also damage building materials. It is especially prone to compromising drywall, woodwork, and other porous structures. In some cases, a mold colony has even managed to develop under wallpaper causing unsightly bubbles and blisters. If mold isn’t removed promptly, it can even cause structural damage to a home or office building.
What Does Mold Look Like?
Visually mold can take on a staggering array of colors. It can be orange, green, tan, brown, black white, and even pink. An active colony might look a little fuzzy. Some strains like Stachybotrys Chartarum, or “Toxic Black Mold” can even develop sickening-looking “Slime Heads.”
Where Does Mold Grow?
Like yeast, mold needs the right conditions and a biological medium to provide nutrients. Though it is much less preferential, and typically requires moisture more than it does a high-value nutrient source. This means that mold can grow on just about any wet porous surface including furniture, carpeting, wood, and even drywall.
Can I Remove Mold & Yeast from My Home?
Yeast is relatively easy to clean up and prevents it from redeveloping in the home. It has higher nutrient needs and typically needs some type of sugar like sucrose, or a simple carbohydrate to reproduce. The larger concern with yeast is if it causes a medical concern in the human body, such as a yeast infection. This typically requires a physician’s treatment and perhaps using a prescription or topical ointment.
Mold, on the other hand, can be more challenging to remove from your home. It can also be very difficult for an untrained eye to tell the difference between a yeast colony, and a pale strain of mold. Especially when you consider that some types of toxic black mold look pale in color.
Here then, the concern is that you might attempt to clean up what you think is a patch of simple, and seemingly benign yeast. Except it is really an active mold colony. When disturbed, most colonies will release mold spores and mycotoxins into the air.
Not only can this cause immediate respiratory problems, but it can also lead to spreading mold spores throughout your home or office. You might end up eliminating one mold colony, only to later discover it has spread to multiple new locations. This and the potential health hazards are good reasons why you should leave mold identification, testing, and remediation to the professionals.