Mold can be found outdoors and indoors. And it doesn't really become a problem inside until there’s a water problem, such as a plumbing leak, rainwater leak or very high indoor humidity levels.
Like you, mold needs water and food to grow. Its favorite foods include, but are not limited to cardboard, dust, paper, wood, dust mites, some paints, pastes and adhesives.
How your health is affected
According to a fact sheet published by the New York City Health Department, most types of mold that are regularly encountered are not hazardous to healthy individuals; however, too much exposure may cause or worsen asthma, hay fever or other allergens.
Over-exposure symptoms you want to be aware of 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.
How much is too much?
Unfortunately, a question no one really has an answer for, at this time. Until scientific methods and research expand and improve, we must turn to common sense to dictate that we shouldn’t live in a moldy house!
There are some experts who say testing for molds does little good, simply due to the fact that there are no standards that address acceptable or unacceptable levels.
A good rule of thumb is, “if you can smell it or see it, then you have it”.
When it comes to mold cleanup, people who have symptoms or allergies should steer clear to help prevent any further exposure- stand back and leave this one to someone else or better yet, the professionals.
Small amounts (less than 10 square feet) can be cleaned using a soapy solution – bleach is not necessary. Just remember to wear gloves and an N95 mask when it’s time take care of business. Dry thoroughly and dispose of rags or sponges that were used for cleanup.
If the mold reappears, this means there is an underlying problem. Find the problem and fix it – fast!
For larger areas, hire a professional.
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.