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Don't get too deep into health issues
Molds and mold spores are present throughout the environment. Mold spores, in fact, are a common component of household dust. Mold spores enter homes and buildings through open doors, windows, other openings, and attached to pets, people and other items.
Once inside, the presence of moisture, a food source, and a certain temperature range allows the spores to grow into mold. Mold growth is often due to an unexpected source of moisture, such as a leaking roof or pipe, or a flawed or damaged window. In homes or buildings in which mold is detected, it is commonly found where moisture can collect, such as on wood, ceiling tiles, carpeting, and insulation.
Mold can usually be recognized by sight. But if it grows where it can't be seen, a discolored ceiling or wall may indicate the presence of mold or at least that there is some water damage, which makes the presence of mold much more likely. Another potential indicator is the presence of a rotten, earthy, or musty odor.
Many types of molds can cause allergic reactions in certain people and, in large quantities or with prolonged exposure, others can cause a variety of health problems. Toxigenic molds produce mycotoxins that, in high enough doses, can lead to neurological problems, or even death.
Larger mold cleanup jobs should be handled by experienced professionals. If a homeowner decides to tackle a smaller job, the following precautions should be taken:
- Use eye protection such as goggles
- Wear rubber boots and waterproof gloves
- Wear long pants and long-sleeved shirts that can be easily removed and laundered or discarded
- Limit the amount of time you are in the area
- Make sure the area is well ventilated
- If using a respirator, which is advisable in certain cases, follow the instructions, be aware of its limitations, and take all the recommended precautions
- Remove all porous items that cannot be thoroughly cleaned and dried, such as insulation material, carpeting, carpet padding, floor tiles, ceiling tiles, upholstery, drywall, clothing, wood, leather, paper, or food, that have been wet for more than 48 hours.
- Clean nonporous surfaces such as, floors, walls, and counters with soap (non-ammonia soap or detergent) and water. Use a stiff brush on rough surfaces such as concrete. If you wish to disinfect, consult A Brief Guide to Mold and Moisture in Your Home.
The following steps are among those that can be taken to prevent mold from coming back:
- Clean fabrics such as curtains, upholstery and bedding regularly and keep them dry.
- Store fabrics in spaces that are well ventilated
- Use dehumidifiers, an air conditioner or open windows, especially in hot weather
- Do not let humidity in the home exceed 60 percent. Humidity sensors are available at most hardware stores
- Reduce condensation on cold surfaces by insulating air-conditioning ducts, cold water pipes, etc.
- Fix pipe leaks and check for damp areas around sinks and tubs
- Routinely check potential problem areas such as the laundry and bathrooms for moldy odors and moisture
- Clean and vacuum surfaces frequently
- If mold persists, seek the advice of a mold remediation professional
Seek medical care if you suspect that you or a loved one is suffering or has suffered from a mold-related illness. You may also wish to consult with a personal injury attorney with relevant experience. You may be entitled to compensation.