Almost 80 percent of U.S. experts involved in indoor air quality management and mold remediation say the incidence of mold in homes and buildings has grown over the past three years, as reported by Icynene, of Mississauga, Ontario, a manufacturer of light-density spray-in-place expanding foam insulation.

More than 70 percent also predict an increase in problems over the next three years, reveals a new industry survey of IAQ and mold remediation experts. They say solutions lie in overcoming current challenges in building design and construction.

The industry study explored the incidence of mold and related indoor air quality problems across the country, including the primary causes and common errors made in combating mold issues.

“Designers, builders and mold remediators should consider a number of building components to effectively prevent or tackle the mold issue caused by moisture infiltration,” said Randy Nicklas, chairman of the training and education committee of the Energy and Environmental Builders Association and a national trainer for the American Lung Association’s Health House program.

“We need to look beyond simply cleaning visible mold and address the less obvious causes such as condensation in walls, attics and basements created by an improperly sealed building envelope,” he continued.

More than 80 percent of indoor air quality and mold experts surveyed say mold and moisture problems can be linked to a number of failed building practices. They point specifically to inadequate design and sealing of the building envelope:

• 55 percent say mold/moisture problems can frequently or always be linked to an inadequate vapor barrier;

• 50 percent say mold/moisture problems can frequently or always be linked to an inadequate air barrier;

• 37 percent say mold/moisture problems can frequently or always be traced to inadequate insulation.

Compounding the growing mold problem is that experts believe mold/mildew is often ignored or mishandled:

• 82 percent of those surveyed believe mold and moisture problems are frequently or almost always misdiagnosed or ignored.

• 76 percent of experts say the most common error made in addressing a mold problem is treating the symptoms instead of the cause.

“In addition to direct water leakage, less obvious mechanisms of moisture transportation, such as condensation, are a major cause of mold growth and sick building syndrome,” said Bruce Small, environmental health and building design consultant and executive director of the Technology and Health Foundation.

Experts surveyed say the key products or systems that should be addressed or changed to prevent mold and poor indoor air quality are insulation, ventilation systems, vapor barriers and air barriers.