It is found outdoors and indoors.

It doesn't really become a problem inside until there is a water problem, such as a plumbing leak, rainwater leak or very high indoor humidity levels.

It needs water and food to grow.

Typical foods are cardboard, dust, paper, wood, dust mites, some paints, pastes and adhesives.

How your health is affected

According to a New York City Health Department fact sheet, most types of mold that are routinely encountered are not hazardous to healthy individuals. Too much exposure may cause or worsen conditions such as asthma, hay fever or other allergens.

Common symptoms of over-exposure are cough, congestion, runny nose, eye irritation and aggravation of asthma.

Depending on the amount of exposure and a persons' vulnerability, more serious health effects such as fever, breathing problems, nausea and skin rashes can occur.

Newborns, the elderly and those with poor immune symptoms can be affected severely.

Some symptoms associated with mold exposure may be caused by many other illnesses.

How much is too much?

No one really knows at this time. Until science gets better, common sense should dictate that you should not live in a moldy house!

Testing

There are some experts who say testing for molds does little good. They state that there are no standards that address acceptable or unacceptable levels.

A good rule is, “if you can smell it or see it, then you have it”.

Cleaning

People who have symptoms or allergies should not attempt cleaning.

Small amounts (less than 10 square feet) can be cleaned using a soapy solution (bleach is not necessary).

Wear gloves and an N95 mask during clean-up.

Dry thouroughly and dispose of rags or sponges that were used for clean-up.

For larger areas, hire a professional.

If it reappears, this means there is an underlying problem, find the problem and fix it.

Avoidance

Remember, water is the culprit!

  • Be sure to repair plumbing leaks immediately
  • Keep rain gutters clean and operable
  • If you insulate your basement, do not use fiberglass or cellulose on the walls, use rigid semi-permeable insulation
  • Use a ventilator for your bathroom or kitchen that is piped to the outside, not into the attic
  • Do not store boxes or clothes too close to an outside wall (especially in cold climates)
  • For those who have allergies or are sensitive, consider an air purifier that kills airborne mold.