Most people have few difficulties when exposed to mold spores, but it is estimated that about 10 percent of the population is severely allergic to mold. Symptoms include respiratory problems, nasal and sinus congestion, watery eyes, sore throat, coughing and skin irritations. Mold also can trigger asthma attacks. In some cases reactions are fatal. Children (especially infants), elderly persons, pregnant women, people with respiratory problems, and those whose immune systems are impaired are at higher risk from mold exposure. Even persons who have no ill effects at first may develop an allergy to mold after continued exposure. Therefore, everyone should avoid exposure to mold spores.If you think you’ve been exposed, a mold inspection can provide valuable insight on the location and extent of the damage.
To grow, mold needs a food source, moisture, and mild to warm temperatures. When mold spores in the air find the right conditions they begin to grow. The food source can be any organic material such as dust, books, papers, animal dander, soap scum, wood, particle board, paint, wallpaper, carpet and upholstery. When such materials stay damp (especially in dark areas with poor air circulation) mold will grow. Flooding, pipe leaks, leaky roofs, moisture in walls, high indoor humidity, condensation, and poor heating/air-conditioning system design and operation can create the damp environment mold needs to grow.
If you can smell a musty odor or see mold, you have a mold problem. If you suspect you have a mold problem, you should thoroughly examine your home. It is important to know where to look. Look for mold wherever there may be water damage—behind and under cabinets, around plumbing fixtures and appliances, under carpet, inside walls, behind baseboards and in attics. Moisture can seep through concrete walls and floors and cause mold growth on or in walls, carpeting and materials stored in a basement. Mold also can grow behind furniture (particularly if it is against an outside wall) and in closets with outside walls.
The safest course is to get a Professional Independent Mold Assessment of your home from a certified mold inspector, prior to performing any mold cleanup and remediation.
Studies have found that mold contamination can be greatly reduced if a home is kept dry and clean, and efforts are made to reduce the level of mold spores entering the home.
To control mold for good, you must solve any moisture problems in your home. Because there are mold spores everywhere, and mold grows on any wet, organic surface, the only way to prevent mold growth is to keep things dry.
Clean and dry damp areas such as plumbing and floors under sinks, around washing machines, and around toilets and faucets. Dry condensate on window frames. Clean and dry refrigerator and freezer drip pans and door gaskets. Wipe up spills immediately. Keep the refrigerator clean and free of mold.
Dry water-damaged areas within 24 hours. If flooding is extensive, obtain the help of a trained, certified restoration specialist. Wet drywall, insulation and carpet must be removed.
Make sure the technician checks for standing moisture and contamination and cleans the coils. He should also clean the ductwork and drain pan, and replace them when necessary.
The crawl space of a home on a pier-and-beam foundation should have cross ventilation to help keep the area dry. Check for plumbing leaks in the crawl space and repair any you find.
There are a number of things you can do to reduce the number of mold spores that enter your home.
Source: Mold An Indoor Air Pollutant, Author, Janie L. Harris. Extension Housing and Environment Specialist The Texas A&M University System
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