Mold – it’s unsightly (when it’s visible) and it’s unhealthy – and, if it’s in our homes, it is present in every breath we take.
Many of us only think of mold in the cold and damp of winter. But, spring weather can also cause a host of problems in our homes and mold is one of them. Not only that, spring is the ideal time to perform mold remediation, according to the experts.
Molds are microscopic fungi that feed on and break down organic materials. In our homes, “They like cellulose. Most of the material we use to build houses – like sheetrock, ceiling tile, wood,” David Straus, a mold expert with Texas Tech University, explained.
But they need moisture to thrive. In fact, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), of all the types of mold in the world, “none of them will grow without water or moisture.”
When conditions are right (moisture, temperature and the presence of organic materials) mold will spread by releasing spores.
Symptoms of mold exposure can be as mild as those of seasonal allergies to flu-like symptoms and even the loss of equilibrium, trouble breathing and other life-threatening signs.
Asthma-like wheezing, especially in those not previously diagnosed as asthmatic, is a clear sign that mold may be present in the home.
Mold can be apparent (black substances on the walls), or it can be hidden, such as under carpet pads, furniture and wallpaper.
A common misconception is that mold is black. While it often is, it can also be green, pink or appear as white powder.
The most telling sign of a mold infestation in the home is a musty smell, according to the Minnesota Department of Health.
The experts at the EPA caution that there is no way to rid the home of all mold, but you can control its growth by ridding the home of excess moisture.
This may be easier said than done, however. As mentioned earlier, it is sometimes challenging to find mold, and to remedy the problem you must find the source.
Begin with the places that most commonly experience leaks, such as around the toilets, showers and sinks. Then, inspect the following:
Once you’ve rid the home of moisture sources, it’s time to clean up the mold. This can be a DIY project, but health experts suggest that you call in a professional mold remediation company for a large infestation.
If you decide on the DIY solution, wear protective clothing and gear, such as gloves, eye protection and a filtering dust mask. Then, follow the advice of the New York State Department of Health:
Prevent mold growth by reducing the amount of indoor humidity in the home. The EPA suggests ensuring that there is adequate ventilation in laundry rooms and bathrooms.
Then, if needed, consider purchasing a de-humidifying system to clear the air of excess moisture.
You can find additional mold information online, at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s and at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s websites.
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