Mold is everywhere. In fact there are well over 100,000 different species of mold. Some species of mold can be harmful to people and of course nobody wants their products to arrive at retail covered in white, yellow and green spores. Mold has specific requirements for growth and different materials will be more susceptible for mold growth than others. The understanding of what mold is and how it grows is the first step towards prevention.
WHAT IS MOLD AND HOW DOES IT GROW?
Mold spores. Mold and mildew are simple, microscopic organisms that can grow virtually anywhere if they have adequate moisture, nutrients and appropriate temperatures. Spores of dozens of kinds of mold and mildew are present at all times in indoor and outdoor air. These spores can settle, germinate and grow wherever good growth conditions are found. The basic unit of mold growth is hyphae. The hyphae form long, thin branching structures that grow at the tip. The collective hyphae of a colony are called the mycelium. Spores form on the end of some of the hyphae and the spores contain the genetic information inside their small rigid structure. After the spores are formed, they are released into the air and carried elsewhere. Once the spore lands in a new area and when the appropriate conditions exist, the spore will begin to germinate into a new hyphae cell and start the process all over again. Molds are an important part of nature however when spores are present in large quantities, they will damage merchandise and can be a health hazard to humans, potentially causing allergic reactions and respiratory problems.
REQUIREMENTS FOR MOLD GROWTH
Moisture. Most molds require moisture levels starting from around 65% relative humidity (RH) in order to grow. A lower RH delays germination of mold spores and reduces the rate of mold growth. RH would have to be below 62% to stop all chances for typical mold growth. Moisture in materials such as leather, textile, wood, etc. can also support mold growth.
Food. Molds do not have the ability to create their own food and instead produce enzymes that digest organic matter. The food source for mold can therefore be natural fibers, leather, paper or even ordinary dust.
Temperature. Molds cannot control their own temperature so they must rely on the temperature of the environment. The ambient temperature will control the rate of biochemical reactions controlling growth and each species of mold has a minimum, maximum and optimum temperature for growth. Although various molds can grow within a wide range of temperatures (from 0°C to 50°C), most common molds will grow at room temperature. For our purposes the ideal range for mold growth would be from 20°C and up.
WHY ARE SHOES, GARMENTS, BAGS AND OTHER ITEMS SO SUSCEPTIBLE TO MOLD?
Shoes, garments, bags and similar items are often produced in conditions of high humidity and high temperature. These products also contain a variety of materials and adhesives, many of which will be an excellent food source for mold. The requirement for moisture, temperature and food are thus all fulfilled. After production the merchandise will usually be in shipping containers for extended periods during which time the relative humidity will rise and fall dramatically, creating an ideal incubator for mold. It is important to note that it is not unusual to have mold cases on synthetic shoes, bags, jackets and other items. While synthetic materials themselves will not become moldy (except in very special cases) organic matter on the interior or exterior surface of the materials can support mold growth. Often times it is in fact the interior components of the synthetic item that first become moldy and the mold then grows onto the surface.
WHAT IS THE MICRO-PAK PROCESS?
The Micro-Pak process for mold prevention is based on the education and training of material suppliers, manufacturers and logistic partners. The Micro-Pak technical team takes a holistic approach looking at everything from incoming materials, production at main facilities as well as outside workshops, warehousing and shipping in order to assist all participants in eliminating mold. The training modules include education, factory analysis, corrective action planning and the proper use of Micro-Pak products.
BENEFITS OF USING MICRO-PAK
Micro-Pak products and services include a wide range of benefits covering efficacy, regulatory compliance, safety, technical support and sustainability. Micro-Pak has an international organization with offices and distributors located in major manufacturing and retail markets around the globe enabling us to keep up to date with local issues as well provide our customers with immediate service and assistance. Micro-Pak offers an end-to-end mold prevention process in a sustainable and compliant manner.
Micro-Pak® products are registered in the US per the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) requirements as well as in all fifty states. In the EU Micro-Pak® products are REACH pre-registered and are in the process of being registered under the Biocidal Products Regulation (BPR).
Through extensive and continual third party testing in internationally recognized laboratories Micro-Pak® products have demonstrated continual efficacy for periods of over five months.
As part of our Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) registration Micro-Pak® products underwent rigorous safety testing for skin irritation, inhalation, ingestion as well as other points and were approved in all areas. Micro-Pak® products are EPA Toxicity Category IV which is the lowest (safest) rating issued by the EPA.
Micro-Pak has an extensive restricted substance test protocol and complies with Proposition 65 as well as the restricted substance lists of the AAFA, FDRA, SATRA and major brands and retailers throughout the world. Micro-Pak® products are also REACH pre-registered in the EU as well as compliant with the latest list of Substances of Very High Concern (SVHC).
Micro-Pak has offices in Hong Kong, Portland, Oregon, New York and Holland as well as an international network of more than twenty-five authorized distributors around the world. This allows us to offer customer service on a 24/7 basis. If required our staff can, within hours, be in your US, European or Asian offices, factories or retail stores.
Micro-Pak has a continually developing sustainability program headed by our Sustainability Officer based in the Portland office. Micro-Pak is also a member of the Sustainable Packaging Coalition and has achieved Cradle to Cradle Silver Certification.