Homeowners Guide On Mildew, Mold, and Fungi

Molds are simple, microscopic organisms that are present virtually everywhere, indoors and outdoors. Molds, along with mildew, mushrooms, and yeasts, are fungi. There are more than 100,000 species of mold that produce tiny, lightweight spores that drift through the indoor and outdoor air. Live spores act like seeds forming new mold growths when they find the right conditions.

How does mold grow?
Mold can grow almost anywhere there is water, high humidity, or dampness. When mold spores land on a damp spot they begin growing and digesting whatever they are growing on in order to survive. The way to control indoor mold growth is to control moisture. Removing the source of moisture - through repairs or dehumidification - is critical to preventing mold growth.

How an I exposed to indoor mold?
Exposure to mold occurs primarily from inhaling mold spores when there is active mold growth where people live or work within the home, office, or school. Everyone is exposed to some mold on a daily basis without evident hard. It is common to find mold spores in the air inside homes and mold of the airborne spores found indoors come from outdoor sources. When moldy material becomes damaged or disturbed, spores can be released into the air.

How can mold affect my health?
Most types of mold that are routinely encountered are not hazardous to healthy individuals. Mold spores primarity cause health problems when people inhale large quantities of spores.

Reactions are dependent on a person's susceptibility. The most common health problems caused by indoor mold are allergy symptoms. However, the long-term presence of indoor mold growth may eventually become unhealthy for anyone.

Depending on the amount of exposure and a person's individual vulnerability, more serious health effects, such as fevers and breathing problems can occur but are unusual. People at higher risks are asthmatics, people with allergies, infants, children, pregnant women, existing respiratory diseases, and people with compromised immune systems.

What should I do if I suspect my health or my child's health is affected?
If you believe that you and your child has symptoms that you suspect are caused by exposure to mold, you should see a physician. Keep in mind that many symptoms associated with mold exposure may also be caused by many other illnesses.

How can I tell if I have mold in my house?

  • Look for visible mold growth (may appear cottony, velvety, granular, or leathery and have varied colors of white, gray, brown, black, yellow, or green). Mold often appears as discoloration, staining, or fuzzy growth on surfaces.
  • Search areas with noticeable mold odors.
  • Look for signs of excess moisture or water damage.
  • Search behind and underneath materials; carpet and pad, wallpaper, vinyl flooring, sink cabinets, and especially in damp areas such as basements and attics.

How can I prevent indoor mold problems in my home?

  • Stop the source of leak or flooding
  • Remove excess water with mops or wet vacuum
  • Whenever possible, move wet items to a dry and well ventilated area
  • Open closet and cabinet doors and move furniture away from walls to increase circulation
  • Run dehumidifiers and air conditioners to lower humidity
  • DO NOT use the home's central blower if flooding has occurred in any of the ducts
  • If water has soaked into the walls, it may be necessary to remove baseboard, and/or pry open wall paneling
  • DO NOT turn up the heat or use heaters in confined areas, as higher temperatures increase the rate of mold growth
  • Spraying with a household disinfectant on fungi and mold will not remove the organisms
  • Keep indoor surfaces as dry as possible
  • Ventilate shower, laundry, and cooking areas to the outside

How should mold be cleaned?
The most effective way to treat mold is to correct underlying water damage and clean the affected area. Persons cleaning mold should be free of symptoms and allergies and should wear gloves during the cleaning process. Small areas of mold should be cleaned using a detergent/soapy solution or an appropriate household cleaner. The area cleaned should be dried and the sponges and rags used to clean the mold should be disposed of.