We’ve all noticed it before… discolored tiles in the bathroom, dark fuzzy patches under the sink, a musty odor in the basement. In fact, any dark damp place is a potential home for mold. But, as icky as it can be to find mold in your home, is it really such a big deal?
How does mold get into your home?
You come into contact with mold spores everywhere you go…. Both indoors and outdoors. The spores are so tiny that you can carry them from place to place without even realizing it. Every time you open a door or window, you are potentially allowing mold spores into your home.
When the spores land on a warm, damp place… they start to grow into mold.
Mold is extremely resilient and can grow on almost any surface… including glass and plastic. This means that, no matter how clean you keep your home, you can still end up with a mold infestation if you don’t take the proper precautions.
What effect does mold have on humans?
It depends. For most people, mold is nothing more than an unpleasant inconvenience. But, for people who have allergies, asthma or other types of health vulnerabilities, exposure to mold can cause severe symptoms.
The most common symptoms of mold exposure are stuffy nose, wheezing, and red or itchy eyes or skin, and even infections of the skin or mucous membranes. But that’s not all..
There is research that links spores from a type of mold called S. chartarum to serious health problems in people who live in contaminated buildings. The study suggests that mold exposure could include mold poisoning, aches and pains, mood changes, headaches, memory loss, and nosebleeds.
Also research suggests a potential link of early mold exposure to development of asthma in some children.
Beyond the proven symptoms, there has also been anecdotal evidence that some molds, particularly Stachybotrys, or “black mold” have been linked to acute idiopathic pulmonary hemorrhage among infants, memory loss, and lethargy. Further studies are needed to determine if there is indeed a connection between mold and these more serious conditions.
So, how can you prevent all of these mold induced illnesses?
As you can see, mold exposure has been linked to a wide range of symptoms… from unpleasant to debilitating. The best way to avoid all of these complications is to prevent mold from taking hold. Here are some of the most effective ways to keep mold from invading your home.
Keep humidity levels between 30-50% all day long.
Air conditioners or dehumidifiers work well for that, but remember that humidity levels change throughout the day and will need to be monitored.
Beware of washer fungus.
Front-load washing machines tend to be plagued with mold. Using high efficiency detergent and skipping fabric softener can help reduce spores. Also, make sure to transfer your laundry from the washer to the dryer as soon as the cycle finishes and wipe down the inside of the door and the gasket between loads.
Be sure your home has enough ventilation.
Make sure there are exhaust fans in kitchens, bathrooms, and laundry areas to keep air vented outside your home.
Fix any leaks in your home’s walls, roof, or plumbing.
Promptly fixing leaks will help keep moisture from spreading. Dark, warm crevices are ideal homes for mold.
Don’t use carpets in bathrooms or basements.
Bathrooms and basements are, by nature, more humid than the rest of your home. Eliminating carpet and fabrics helps prevent mold from taking hold.
If you do find mold, remove it immediately and clean the area thoroughly.
Once mold starts to grow in carpet, insulation, ceiling tiles, drywall, or wallboard, the only way to deal with the problem is by removal and replacement. Scrub cleanable surfaces (such as wood, tile, stone) with soapy water and a bristle brush and make sure to dry surfaces quickly and thoroughly after cleaning.