Botrytis mold, also known as gray mold, grows virtually everywhere plants are grown, including indoors on houseplants and in greenhouses. It spreads extremely easily via both wind and water, and can grow on a wide variety of surfaces in your home. Spores can remain dormant on plant surfaces for the life of the plant and spread to other areas of your home when the moisture conditions are right.
Botrytis appears white when it first appears and rapidly turns gray and then sometimes brown. It thrives in moisture and usually attacks wounded plant tissue, injured leaves and broken stems, then spreading to healthy plant tissues. Eventually the plant will be covered in fuzzy gray growth. Grapes, strawberries, lettuce, cabbage and onions are frequent victims.
When botrytis mold appears in a vineyard, it is called “noble rot.” That’s because the decay it causes actually intensifies the sweetness of the grapes and adds flavor to the wine. However, most other food growers don’t want to see mold appear on their crops.
Botrytis is highly allergenic. Sensitive or allergic people may experience hay fever-like symptoms such as sneezing, runny nose, itchy/watery eyes and sore throat. It may also produce asthma symtoms like wheezing and coughing. Follow this link for more on the health problems caused by exposure to indoor mold.
Winegrowers lung is another name for a condition called hypersensitivity pneumonitis. Symptoms of winegrowers lung mimic the flu, including fever, chills, fatigue, muscle pain, bronchitis or cough and shortness of breath. Vineyard workers who have ongoing exposure to botrytis mold are at risk for this disease. Treatment may include steroids like prednisone. If untreated, long-term cases of winegrowers lung can produce weight loss, fibrosis of the lungs and clubbing of fingers and toes due to oxygen deprivation in the extremities.
This mold can occasionally contribute to the development of a condition called keratomycosis, a fungal infection of the cornea in the eye. Symptoms may include eye pain, light sensitivity, redness and vision problems. Prompt treatment is required to avoid permanent vision loss. Agricultural workers may be at higher risk due to mold spore exposure. If you believe you may have a fungal infection, contact your doctor for an appointment.
Because it’s highly allergenic and spreads so easily, botrytis needs to be removed from your home immediately. Dispose of infected produce and clean the area where the food was stored. HEPA vacuum the surfaces and follow with a damp wipe using a low-toxicity household cleaner.
If your indoor plants are infected, they should be disposed of. If it is an expensive plant you can try to remove dead or dying plant tissue and dispose of it in a sealed bag. However, you can’t see all of the mold and you may miss some. That mold can then continue to grow and cause health issues for those in your home.
Be extremely vigilant and cautious when it comes to mold. In addition to health risks, mold growth can cause major damage to your home, infecting wood, drywall, ceilings, carpets and more. Left untreated, the mold can eventually affect the structural integrity of your home. Thus all molds need to be removed promptly form your home to avoid more costly and extensive remediation work.
Mold thrives in humid and wet environments. Avoid plant mold growth of any kind by not overwatering and ensuring that your plants have adequate drainage. Make sure air circulates well in the areas of your home where you have plants growing.
Moisture is the number one cause of mold growth in homes. It’s important to prevent moisture from reaching levels that promote mold by taking some simple, preventative steps. Always clean up water spills immediately and repair plumbing leaks promptly. Make sure your bathrooms and kitchen are vented to the outside so steam doesn’t build up. Finally, use a de-humidifier or air conditioner to keep indoor humidity levels no higher than 50 percent.
If you find mold growing in your home, in certain circumstances you may choose to perform the mold removal yourself. Surface mold or mold on a small (3 feet by 3 feet or less) area can usually be handled on your own. Mold removal must be undertaken with proper precautions to prevent spreading or inhaling the spores. Personal protective equipment should include goggles, gloves and a mask or respirator. Plastic sheeting, duct tape and a HEPA vacuum are among the tools you’ll need to have available to keep the mold contained during removal. You’ll also need to replace any porous materials that have mold.
If the area of mold growth is larger than 10 square feet, the EPA recommends professional mold remediation. Mold can be hard to spot, especially when it’s growing in a dark damp area like the basement, attic, or inside walls. A professional will know where to look and how to find and safely remove the mold. You should also seek professional help if you suspect there is mold in your home’s ductwork, or if you have allergies or other mold-related health problems. You’ll also want to consult a professional if your water or mold damage is the result of flooding or a sewage backup.
If you suspect you have mold in your home, you can get a free home inspection from a local mold remediation professional. The mold specialist will be able to identify any mold problems that exist in your home, and let you know what needs to be done to safely remove the mold. They will give you an estimate in writing that expalins all the work that needs to be done. Follow this link for a list of mold removal professionals in your area offering free home inspections.