does mold need to grow?
· Suitable place to grow
Of these, controlling excess moisture is the key to preventing and stopping indoor mold growth.
Should I be concerned about mold in my home?
Can mold make me and my family sick?
The type and severity of health effects that mold may produce are usually difficult to predict. The risks can vary greatly from one location to another, over time, and from person to person.
What symptoms might I see?
· Nasal and sinus congestion
· Wheeze/breathing difficulties
· Sore throat
· Skin and eye irritation
· Upper respiratory infections (including sinus)
Are the risks greater for some people?
· Infants and children
· Elderly people
· Individuals with respiratory conditions or sensitivities such as allergies and asthma
· Persons having weakened immune systems (for example, people with HIV infection, chemotherapy patients, organ transplant recipients)
Those with special health concerns should consult a medical professional if they feel their health is affected by indoor mold. Are some molds more hazardous than others?
Some types of mold can produce chemical compounds (called mycotoxins) although they do not always do so. Molds that are able to produce toxins are common. In some circumstances, the toxins produced by indoor mold may cause health problems. However, all indoor mold growth is potentially harmful and should be removed promptly, no matter what types of mold is present or whether it can produce toxins.
do I tell if I have a mold problem?
· Look for visible mold growth (may appear cottony, velvety, granular, or leathery and have varied colors of white, gray, brown, black, yellow, green). Mold often appears as discoloration, staining, or fuzzy growth on the surface of building materials or furnishings. When mold is visible, testing is not recommended.
· Search areas with noticeable mold odors.
· Look for signs of excess moisture or water damage. Look for water leaks, standing water, water stains, condensation problems. For example, do you see any watermarks or discoloration on walls, ceilings, carpet, woodwork or other building materials?
· Search behind and underneath materials (carpet and pad, wallpaper, vinyl flooring, sink cabinets), furniture, or stored items (especially things placed near outside walls or on cold floors). Sometimes destructive techniques may be needed to inspect and clean enclosed spaces where mold and moisture are hidden; for example, opening up a wall cavity.
Should I test for mold?
Sometimes, mold growth is hidden and difficult to locate. In such cases, a combination of air (outdoor and indoor air samples) and bulk (material) samples may help determine the extent of contamination and where cleaning is needed. However, mold testing is rarely useful for trying to answer questions about health concerns.
Mold Clean-up and Removal
To clean up and remove indoor mold growth, follow steps 1-6 as they apply to your home.
· Condensation (caused by indoor humidity that is too high or surfaces that are too cold)
· Movement through basement walls and slab
· Roof leaks
· Plumbing leaks
· Overflow from tubs, sinks, or toilets
· Firewood stored indoors
· Humidifier use
· Inadequate venting of kitchen and bath humidity
· Improper venting of combustion appliances
· Failure to vent clothes dryer exhaust outdoors (including electric dryers)
· Line drying laundry indoors
· House plants - watering them can generate large amounts of moisture
To keep indoor surfaces as dry as possible, try to maintain the home's relative humidity between 20-40 percent in the winter and less than 60 percent the rest of the year. You can purchase devices to measure relative humidity at some home supply stores. Ventilation, air circulation near cold surfaces, dehumidification, and efforts to minimize the production of moisture in the home are all very important in controlling high humidity that frequently causes mold growth in our cold climate.
· Take Steps to Protect Yourself - the amount of mold particles in air can increase greatly when mold is disturbed. Consider using protective equipment when handling or working around mold contaminated materials. The following equipment can help minimize exposure to mold:
· Rubber gloves
· Eye goggles
· Outer clothing (long sleeves and long pants) that can be easily removed in the work area and laundered or discarded
· Medium-efficiency or high-efficiency filter dust mask (these can be found at safety equipment suppliers, hardware stores, or some other large stores that sell home repair supplies) -- at a minimum, use an N-95 or equivalent dust mask
· Take Steps to Protect Others - plan and perform all work to minimize the amount of dust generated. The following actions can help minimize the spread of mold spores:
· Enclose all moldy materials in plastic (bags or sheets) before carrying through the home
· Hang plastic sheeting to separate the work area from the rest of the home
· Remove outer layer of work clothing in the work area and wash separately or bag
· Damp clean the entire work area to pick up settled contaminants in dust
· Thoroughly scrub all contaminated surfaces using a stiff brush, hot water and a non-ammonia soap/detergent or commercial cleaner
· Collect excess cleaning liquid with a wet/dry vacuum, mop or sponge
· Rinse area with clean water and collect excess rinse water
· Mix 1/4 to 1/2 cup bleach per gallon of water and apply to surfaces where mold growth was visible before cleaning. The solution can be applied with a spray bottle, garden sprayer, it can be sponged on, or applied by other methods.
· Collect any run-off of bleach solution with a wet/ dry vacuum, sponge or mop. However, do not rinse or wipe the bleach solution off the areas being treated -- allow it to dry on the surface.
Always handle bleach with caution. Never mix bleach with ammonia -- toxic chlorine gas may result. Bleach can irritate the eyes, nose, throat, and skin. Provide fresh air (for example, open a window or door). Protect skin and eyes from contact with bleach. Test solution on a small area before treatment, since bleach is very corrosive and may damage some materials.
When can we rebuild?
Rebuilding and refurnishing must wait until all affected materials have dried completely. Be patient it takes time to dry out wet building materials.
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