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  Killing mold sure sounds like a good idea, but is it really?
To understand the flawed premise of killing mold you must first understand the different characteristics between molds that are viable (alive) and molds that are dead (non-viable). Once you do it will be clear why killing mold is not a sensible way to deal with indoor mold growth and that gimmicks like air purifiers, ozone, and high heat treatments are "snake oil schemes" concocted to separate you from your hard-earned money.

The One Important Detail Most People Don't Know.

Viable Mold
Molds are living organisms that require food and water to stay alive. Take away one or the other and mold dies. Molds produce two things; enzymes to digest organic matter and spores to reproduce. Outdoors mold is a vital part of our ecosystem. Without it we would be neck-deep in dead plant matter and other organic materials. But indoors mold can be a real problem when it starts digesting organic materials like lumber, drywall, cabinets, and other personal property. As long as mold has a food source and a water source, it can live indefinitely and cause significant damage to anything it comes in contact with.

Non-Viable Mold
When mold loses its food or water source it dies or goes dormant. At that point, the good news is it can no longer cause any further damage to your property. The bad news is, as mold dies it dries out and starts to release spores into the air at a highly accelerated rate, and mold spores – dead or alive – have the same affect on people and animals. READ THAT AGAIN!

So, if dead mold is just as harmful alive mold – what would be the point in killing it?

Mold spores are organized into three groups according to human responses;

  1. Allergenic
    Most likely to affect those who are already allergic or asthmatic
  2. Pathogenic
    Serious health effects in persons with suppressed immune systems
  3. Toxigenic
    Capable of causing serious health effects in almost anybody

The objective of mold remediation is never to kill mold, treat mold, toast it, or poison it with gas. Mold remediation means mold removal. Therefore the goal of remediation is always to remove the mold. Dead mold may provide your property with some reprieve from further damage. But given the health risks of mold exposure - dead or alive - there is clearly no upside to killing mold.

Who Promotes the Idea of Killing Mold and Why? Follow The Money

Mold-Killing Products
So who would have you believe that killing mold is a good idea and why? Anyone making money selling products and services that kill mold. Search Google for ”how to kill mold”. What you will find is 500,000 web sites selling products that supposedly “kill mold”. Check out the cleaning products isle at your local grocery store and you’ll find a number of mold-killing solutions to choose from. And of course there’s the home remedies that have been around for years, like bleach, vinegar, baking soda, etc. But even if a remedy or a retail product works, the question that begs asking is, “what is the point in killing mold?”

Mold-Killing Services
If you spend a few dollars on a mold-killing solution, the most you’ll be out is a few dollars. The real mold-killing scam, however, is the thermal or ”high-heat” treatments being passed off as mold remediation by some contractors. Can extreme heat kill mold and other indoor contaminants? Yes. But again, the question to ask is, “what is the point in killing mold?”. Whatever technical catch phrase they come up with to sell their concept, killing mold is not mold remediation. Remediation means removing mold. In the simplest of terms, if mold is properly remediated (removed) there should be nothing left to kill.

Other products and services being sold as mold-killers are Ozone air purifiers and high ozone treatments. Ozone is a colorless, toxic gas with a noticeable odor. When inhaled in relatively low amounts, ozone can cause chest pain, coughing, shortness of breath, damage the lungs and irritate the throat.

Regarding contractors who sell high ozone treatments as a method of mold remediation, the truth is - the amount of ozone it takes to kill mold will kill you too! But even if you check into a hotel for a few days while they while they fill your house with lethal doses of deadly gas, the best you can hope for in the end is dead mold. And just like high heat treatments, remediation will still be required to remove it.

As for ozone products, manufacturers and resellers of Ozone Generators sold as air purifiers claim that these products help to kill and control mold. However, according to the Environmental Protection Agency, (EPA), these products may very well add to indoor air pollution and even make indoor mold conditions worse.

Several brands of ozone generators have EPA “establishment numbers” on their packaging. This is NOT an EPA approval or endorsement. It is nothing more than deceptive marketing designed to intentionally mislead consumers. The only purpose of an EPA establishment number is to help the EPA identify the specific facility that produces the product.


Q: Are Ozone Generators Effective in Controlling Indoor Air Pollution?
A: Available scientific evidence shows that at concentrations that do not exceed public health standards, ozone has little potential to remove indoor air contaminants. Some manufacturers or vendors suggest that ozone will render almost every chemical contaminant harmless by producing a chemical reaction whose only by-products are carbon dioxide, oxygen and water. This is misleading. The EPA does not certify or endorse any air cleaning devices or recommend air cleaning devices or manufacturers.

For more information from the EPA regarding the use or effectiveness of ozone generators, please visit their web site at:

For more information on how to avoid this scam visit the Certified Inspectors Blog [return to top]


For more extensive commentary on mold scams and fraudulent practices be sure to visit our Mold Inspectors Blog where you can interact with an AMI Certified Mold Inspector and other industry professionals.

For more specific information regarding your personal mold questions
and concerns, call AMI to speak to a Certified Mold Professional.


Only AmIAQC certifications are
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All AMI Inspectors are certified
through one or more of the
following certifying bodies for
Indoor Environmental Professionals

American Indoor Air Quality Council

Environmental Solutions Association


Indoor Air Quality Association



Are you concerned about mold? With the abundance of information available on the internet and other media sources it can be difficult to separate the facts from all the hype. But not anymore. Now you can get straight talk from some of the Nation's leading experts with AMI's Certified Mold Inspector Hotline.

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Mold Scams and the Real Price of "Free Inspections". Read this before calling anyone.

Are Free Mold Inspections and Samples Really Free?

Free always sounds good until you find out what it really costs. In a perfect world you could trust everyone, but it's not perfect yet. Be aware of the most common mold scams and how to avoid becoming the next victim... click here.

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