The Dangers of Mold
Mold is a common but potentially dangerous substance found in many homes and other buildings. There are thousands of varieties, but the most common are greenish, white, brown or black in color and often have a dusty texture. While trace amounts of mold exist in the air and on surfaces, prolonged exposure to household mold can cause a number of health issues.
Exposure to molds like Alternaria can trigger hay fever-like allergic symptoms, coughing and wheezing, as well as nasal stuffiness and eye or skin irritation. People with chronic respiratory diseases may experience difficulty breathing or develop fungal infections in their lungs. More serious reactions to molds have been reported, but the link between these symptoms and mold exposure has not been conclusively proven.
Mold flourishes in moist, humid environments. Nutrients that encourage mold to develop can be found in many building supplies. Spores can enter the home from the outside through open doors and windows as well as heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems. Airborne spores also attach themselves to people and animals and are thus carried indoors.
Common Household Sources of Mold
Paper products, cardboard, ceiling tiles and wood products that have been exposed to moisture encourage the growth of certain molds. Mold can also grow in dust, lint, paints, wallpaper, insulation materials, drywall, carpet and upholstery. Leaking roofs, pipes, walls or even plant pots will support mold growth as well. Water damage, excessive humidity, water leaks, condensation or flooding all contribute to the spread of mold in the home, particularly the highly toxic Stachybotrys chartarum, a greenish black mold.
Best Treatments for Eliminating Mold
Mold can usually be eliminated from hard surfaces by a thorough cleaning with products like Mold Armor or Moldex, soap and water or a bleach solution of 1 cup of bleach in 1 gallon of water. If the mold is present in porous or absorbent materials, those may need to be thrown away.
To keep mold out of the house, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) advises use of an air conditioner or dehumidifier. The home should have sufficient ventilation, including exhaust fans in kitchen and bathrooms. If repainting is necessary, mold inhibitors can be added to paints. Bathrooms should be carpet free and cleaned with mold-killing products. Water leaks, condensation, infiltration or flooding should be corrected to prevent mold from growing and the home inspected for indications of visible mold. Serious cases will require professional mold removal services such as ServiceMaster Clean.
Permanent Mold Solutions
Serious mold problems will require professional cleaning services and may even lead to extensive home repairs. Homeowners facing restoration issues can consult expert repair sites such as This Old House, Mr. Handyman or Bob Vila. It may be possible for homeowners to make minor repairs on their own; however, professional services from a company like SERVPRO, which offers restoration for significant mold damage, could become necessary.