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What is mold?

Mold is a naturally occurring microscopic organism, it is classified as a fungus that is neither plant nor animal.  They are part of the natural environment.  There are many types of mold none of them can grow without water or moisture.  Some mold spores exist at safe levels, when the living conditions for mold are enhanced the spores could threaten health or cause property damage.  The risk of exposure to airborne fungi is greater in enclosed spaces and is invisible to the naked eye as they float through the air.  If moisture is present fungi will reproduce, if a home is dry, mold will not develop.  In order to stop the growth of mold the source of water intrusion must be located, stopped and cleaned up. 

Can it cause health problems?

Mold can cause health problems, including hay fever-type symptoms, such as sneezing, runny nose, red eyes, and skin rash.  Allergic reactions to mold are very common.  They can occur immediately or they can be delayed.  People who are allergic to mold that also have asthma can suffer asthma attacks due to allergic reaction.  People that are the most susceptible to these effects are people who suffer from allergies, asthma, or have a compromised immune system; or the elderly or very young children.

Where does mold grow?

Mold will only grow on areas that have water or moisture.  Temperature is also an important factor for ideal mold growth, together with materials containing cellulose mold will grow at a temperature of 40 F - 100 F.  These temperatures are very common in our area combined with a high moisture content which cause mold to grow.  Mold can grow on all types of wood, drywall, ceiling tiles, paint, insulation, paper and cardboard.  Once the mold begins to grow it doesn't require much moisture to continue growing.  With new construction being built "airtight" for improved energy efficiency it causes airborne fungi to be trapped along with humidity, allowing mold to grow.

How do I get rid of mold?

All mold is impossible to remove due to the fact that some are airborne and invisible to the naked eye.  Moisture is the key for mold growth, so it is crucial to locate the entrance of the moisture.  Some examples are; roof leaks, exterior wall leaks, improperly vented appliances, or condensation.  To get rid of the mold you must clean up and fix the water problem, if the water problem is not fixed it will most likely come back.  All woodwork that has been affected by mold should be replaced if possible, if this is not possible there are bleaching products that may be used.  Metal (duct) structures can be brushed, cleaned, also bleaching products may be used.  A professional should be contacted to safely remove all mold and damaged material

How can I prevent mold and moisture?

When leaks occur act quickly, repair area and make sure to dry all wet surfaces.  The cleaning and repairing of roof gutters regularly will help to eliminate water damage and leaks in the walls and roof.  Keep indoor humidity low it should be below 60 percent, condensation can be a sign of high humidity.  If moisture or condensation collects on windows dry the surface immediately.  Vent appliances properly to the outside where possible.  Use air conditioners and de-humidifiers when needed.  Always run an exhaust fan when showering or open window if possible.  Also use exhaust fans when cooking and running a dishwasher.  Increase ventilation by opening doors and windows when practical.  Cover cold surfaces with insulation i.e., cold water pipes

For additional resources please contact the EPA Indoor Air Quality Information Clearinghouse at 800-438-4318 or visit there web site at www.epa.gov/iaq/molds

 

 

 

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Last modified: 03/28/2007