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Mildew and Mold

People often confuse mildew and mold; they use the names of the two types of fungi interchangeably, or they misrepresent the substances purposely. Whether the confusion lies with misuse of the names or misrepresentation by certain entities, there are characteristics of each fungi that can help identify them. A person’s health can be dependent on the proper understanding of mildew and mold.

What is Mildew?

Mildew is a type of mold, and it shares a similar need for moisture as its household counterpart. However, it is a plant parasite, and it requires living plant tissue to grow. Mildew appears as a white or gray powdery substance on the leaves and stems of vegetation. It can, also affect the flowers and fruits of infected organisms.

The substance that many encounter on damp surfaces is not mildew, as mildew cannot grow on anything other than a living plant. This means a person’s household surfaces — except houseplants, of course — are safe from this fungus. While mildew is not healthy for plants, it does not have the ability to affect your health like mold does.

What is Mold?

Mold, unlike Mildew, does not need a living plant to thrive. If there is adequate moisture, mold can grow on any organic surface; any material which can be broken down — like wood, paper, dirt, or leaves — can be a food source for the fungus.

In many instances, mold will have a fuzzy appearance, and it causes surface discoloration; it is usually green, gray, black, white, or brown. Mold can affect the health of anyone who comes into contact with it, as it produces mycotoxins.

Why the Confusion?

The confusion exists because the common name for mold is mildew, and many products marketed for mold cleanup are branded as a deterrent for mildew. There is quite a bit of misrepresentation online, as well. From articles stating that mold only grows on food to blog postings that reassure the reader that the black substance on their window seal is only mildew, misinformation spreads through the recesses of the internet like wildfire.

Mildew, also, sounds less threatening than mold. Many people may prefer to call it mildew so their house will not have a negative stereotype attached to it. Some real estate companies may even adopt the misrepresentation to sell houses more easily; they may assume if they do not call it mold, the selling process will be less complicated.

Why is it Important to Call Mold and Mildew the Correct Name?

It is important to differentiate between the two because health issues can occur when a person is exposed to mold. If someone is assuming the substance in their house is mildew, they may not take the necessary precautions to eradicate the problem. Mold can exacerbate the condition of someone who has asthma; it can irritate the nose, eyes, and throat; cause fungal infections; and initiate other respiratory issues.

Final Thoughts

If a person knows the characteristics of each substance, he can easily get the differences between mildew and mold. Plant mildew can be remedied by numerous topical products, but a user should always take precautions when applying anti-fungal treatments to their plants. If a person believes they have a mold issue in their home, it is best to call a professional to remove the fungus and thoroughly clean any surfaces.