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Molds are present EVERYWHERE indoors and outdoors. The effects on humans to these molds can vary; people who suffer from asthma, hayfever, or other allergies or have a weakened immune system are at a particularly high-risk level. The physical ailments caused by harmful molds are numerous. The most common symptoms are:

Coughing and Congestion
Acute asthma irritation
Running  Nose
Eye irritation

However, this is far from an exhaustive list of the effects of molds on people. Some other common ailments are:

Malaise, Fatigue, Depression
Unexplainable irritability
Loss of memory
Loss of hearing
Loss of eyesight
Chronic Headaches
Arthritic - like aches
Epileptic-like seizures
Upper respiratory distress
Equilibrium and balance problems
Cold/flu like symptoms that won't go away

It is a very simple life form that lacks the ability to photosynthesize. Mold uses enzymes to digest nutrients from other organic materials such your collections. Essentially mold consists of fungi that grow in filamentous forms. Many fluoresce under UV light often helping to verify their presence.

The two most common "problem" molds for preservations are the Ascomycetes and Fungi Imperfecti. The Ascomycetes include over 29,000 species, many of which are disease causing. The Fungi Imperfecti is the second largest subdivision, containing over 17,000 species and they are also very aggressive agents of biodeterioration.

The molds that we are most commonly concerned with reproduce through asexual means, forming what are called conidia, although they are often called "spores." Conidia are typically 5 to 50 m in diameter (Aspergillus fumigatus conidia are among the smallest, measuring about 2.5 m) and are very easily air borne.

Each vegetative filament of fungus is called a hypha and a large mass of hyphae is called a mycelium. These hyphae are the actively growing, assimilative phase of the fungi and new growth typically occurs as a linear elongation of the hyphae.

Molds often appear as circular spots, resulting from the outward growth of hyphae. As the mold spreads, it begins to look more like a solid mat across objects. It is important to understand that just as mold grows outward, it also grows down, into the substrate, of the books, bindings, paper, and leather.

Molds are everywhere and should not be viewed as a sudden "infection." The majority of fungal conidia in the indoor environmental come from the outdoors. Consequently, the most common molds are Cladosporium and Alternaria, with lesser quantities of Aspergillus and Penicillium. The number of conidia may reach one million per cubic meter under favorable conditions, although levels of 10,000 to 100,000 per m³ are more common.

Aureobasidium are stain fungi, commonly causing staining of wood finishes. Mucor and Penicillium are examples frequently associated with stone, producing acids which result in solubilization of silicates and the weathering of stone. Aspergillus, Penicillium, Cladosporium, Fusarium, and Paecilomyces are often associated with the discoloration of paint. Fungi such as Aspergillus and Penicillium are often found colonizing adhesives and caulks, with Penicillium in particular found associated with PVC, plastic, and rubber. Aspergillus is associated with surface discolorations of polyesters. Carpets are frequently attacked by Penicillium, Aspergillus, Cladosporium, and Mucor. Library collections under damp conditions are frequently infested with Penicillium, Fusarium, Aspergillus, and Cladosporium.

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