The impact of mold has become a prevalent topic recently, but do you know all you need to know about its impact on you and your home? Although certain molds may be discussed more than others, all molds are treated the same when it comes to their potential health risks and their removal.
It is easy to know if you have a mold problem. Large mold infestations can be seen or smelled. Mold grows naturally in the environment and may enter your home through open doors, windows, and ventilation systems such as heating and air conditioning. Mold spores may even attach themselves to your clothing and pets, which then bring them inside the home. Once inside, mold attaches itself to areas with moisture, such as a leaky roof, pipes, wet wallboard, plant pots, areas of condensation, and where flooding has occurred. Many building products make a hospitable place for mold to grow.
Stachybotrys chartarum is a greenish-black mold, which grows in areas with a high cellulose and low nitrogen content, such as fiberboard, gypsum board, paper, dust and lint. Even carpet, fabric and upholstery can easily support mold growth.
The most common health concerns resulting from mold exposure are allergy-type symptoms. The severity of the reaction depends on the amount and duration of the exposure to the mold. Individuals with chronic respiratory disease, including asthma, may experience difficulty breathing. Also, those on immune suppression therapy may be at an increased risk for health problems associated with mold. If you feel that you or your family members are at risk for infection, see your doctor for diagnosis and treatment.
Prevention is the key to combating mold. Just as with termites, buildings should be inspected for mold growth. Areas affected by water damage should be inspected thoroughly. Leaks and other conditions that supply moisture should be corrected, so as to prevent mold from taking root. Remove and replace flood-damaged carpets and carpet pads. Helpful tips are to keep humidity levels in your home below 50%, using air conditioning or a dehumidifier if necessary. Also, make sure your home is well ventilated, checking heating and air conditioning units as well as exhaust fans. Clean bathrooms and kitchens with mold-killing products. And, consider using paint that contains a mold-inhibiting agent.
If you are going to rid your home of mold, a bleach and water solution will suffice for most jobs. Mix 10 parts water to 1 part chlorine bleach and never mix bleach with ammonia. Clean walls and other flood-damaged items with the bleach solution and discard moldy items. Professionals may be needed to clean larger areas of mold.