Well, if you consider something that is no longer “growing” or “producing” to be dead the answer to this question would be yes! However, there is a pretty substantial caveat that comes with the words “killing” or “dead” in reference to mold.
Mold that has lost any one of its three elements of growth (food, moisture, air) will stop producing and turn dormant. This mold is not dead in the sense that it will almost immediately start to grow again if it regains the missing elements. The only real difference between dormant and growing mold is, the growing mold is producing more mold! Besides, the spores associated with both, which are at risk of becoming airborne, still have the same allergenic and toxigenic characteristics regardless of if they are from a dormant or productive mold growth.
The one thing that is not entirely clear is whether the dormant mold is capable of still releasing toxins (VOC’s) or if they only come from active mold growths. I lean towards the idea that if you can smell the molds, they are most likely active and producing toxins, which means they presently have all three elements they need for growth. This does not mean however that if you see a mold growth but cannot smell it that it is dormant, not all productive mold growths release toxins and some growths only release them during certain conditions.
I am constantly told by contractors and customers “we killed the mold by spraying it down with….” or “we painted over the mold with…. and that killed it”! Well, the only real killers of mold are fire and acid, and I am yet to find a practical application of either of those in our homes and buildings. Industry standards for mold remediation specifically state that mold growths inside our homes and buildings must be removed if at all possible. One of the most common misconceptions is that wiping the mold off of a porous surface is removing it. Mold growths consist of roots and spores, wiping or cleaning a surface can remove the spores, however much more aggressive methods need to be used to remove the roots. Without removing the root you have not gained anything or completed the process of remediation and run the risk of new spore growth.
The process of encapsulation (painting over it) is only acceptable when all other methods have been considered and are not possible due to location or financial constraints. There are only a handful of products on the market today that are recognized as encapsulants for mold remediation. The problem with encapsulated mold growths is that if they are able to regain their three elements then they will grow back through the encapsulating product. In some cases the products used are paints or sealers not designed for mold remediation and can become the mold food.
So in conclusion, when doing mold remediation, we do not focus on “killing” mold, we focus on removing mold!