Exposure to molds can be harmful to your health — especially in children, whose defense systems are only partially formed. Our bodies come in contact with mold in three ways: by breathing mold spores that become airborne; by eating mold in food; and by touching mold on surfaces. Over 200 different types of indoor molds have been identified. They grow best in moist, wet environments, and tend to spread rapidly on almost any surface — food, tile, paint, dust, sheet rock, plaster, wood, and fabric such as clothing or furniture upholstery. Molds destroy the surfaces on which they grow.
Now scientific research is showing links between mold exposure and increased risk of several health conditions, including asthma, skin reactions, and chronic fatigue syndrome. It is important to control mold growth to keep your family and your home healthy.
What We Know About Mold
Recent research is showing that mold exposure at a young age increases children’s likelihood of developing asthma. Mold can also trigger attacks in asthmatics, provoke allergic reactions, and irritate skin.
Center investigator Dr. Ginger Chew conducted a study on mold levels in post-Katrina New Orleans to characterize different types of mold and to evaluate the efficacy of safe remediation methods for minimizing mold levels. Dr. Chew’s work suggests that the most effective way to reduce mold levels in homes is a combination of these three steps:
- discarding items, such as wet carpet and drywall, that cannot be cleaned
- cleaning surfaces with safe fungicides, and
- employing cross-ventilation drying methods.
What You Can Do
Moisture control is essential to minimizing mold growth. There are many ways to control moisture and subsequent mold growth in your home.
- If any part of your home becomes damaged with water, dry the area within 24 to 48 hours to prevent mold growth.
- If you suspect that mold is a problem in your home, fix leaky plumbing or other sources of water leakage.
- Mold can be washed off hard surfaces with detergent and water. Remember to dry these areas completely.
- Replace moldy areas that are harder to clean, such as ceiling tiles, carpets, and furniture upholstery.
- Make sure your home has a source of fresh air to keep out unnecessary moisture and hazardous mold.
- Remember to turn off moisture-producing appliances, such as humidifiers, if you notice moisture on windows and other surfaces.
Source: Adapted from information from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency