What Is Mold?
Mold is the name given to a large variety of fungal growths that require moisture and organic matter to feed upon. No one knows how many species of fungi exist but estimates range from tens of thousands to perhaps three hundred thousand or more. The most common varieties found inside our homes include: Alternaria, Aspergillus, Cladosporium, Epicoccum, Penicillium and Rhodotorula. High relative humidities are required for germination and growth while lower humidities tend to increase the release of mold spores as a method for self preservation.
Where Can Mold Be Found?
In our homes mold can be found virtually anywhere including basements, kitchens, bathrooms, closets, clothing, carpeting, wallpaper, wall cavities, furniture, plants, food, etc. Mold can also develop in standing water such as improperly maintained humidifiers or condensation trays. Mold often flourishes in areas where it can not be seen which is why so many people suffer from mold exposure symptoms even when there are no visible signs of mold or musty odors. Just because you can't see it or smell it does not mean it isn't there. The greater your exposure, the greater your risk of developing adverse health effects and possibly a permanent sensitivity (allergy) to mold. Mold is also found in great abundance outside on leaf piles, hay, dirt, plants and composts. Other locations of concern to mold sensitive individuals include: antique shops, greenhouses, saunas, farms, mills, construction areas, flower shops, and summer cottages.
Why Is Mold Dangerous?
Microscopic mold spores are easily transported in the air we breathe and can be absorbed into our eyes, nose, throat and lungs. It is estimated that approximately 30 percent of us are allergic to mold and suffer adverse health effects because of it. Many are not aware that the symptoms they are experiencing are due to mold and could be controlled. In situations where mold exposure is unavoidable, sensitive people should wear a tight-fitting face mask. Mold can also cause building materials to decay or rot which leads to a variety of maintenance and structural problems.
What Are The Health Effects Of Mold?
Mold exposure can produce a large variety of symptoms which are often overlooked by people and physicians as common, everyday medical complaints. They include: depression, irritability, anger, fear, coughing, wheezing, runny eyes and nose, muscular aches, chills, fever, headaches, confusion, inability to concentrate, tiredness, fatigue, sleep disorders, hay fever allergy type symptoms, loss of appetite, skin rashes, hypersensitivity pneumonitis, allergic rhinitis and asthma. If you suspect exposure, seek the help of a qualified physician immediately and have your home or workplace tested as soon as possible.
How Do I Test For Mold?
The Healthy Home Test Kit for Mold is easy to use and includes 4 separate tests so that different areas of the home or office may be tested simultaneously. The Mold Kit should be kept in its box and stored in a refrigerator until used and should be opened within 10 days after receiving it. Avoid freezing. When you are ready to test just expose the special culture plates for 15 minutes, store in a dark place for 72 hours, then use the included chart to determine the amounts and types of mold present. Compare the results to help find hidden locations and problem areas, plus see how your home or office compares with average.
If There Is A Problem How Do I Fix It?
Once the source(s) of contamination have been located, source treatment or removal is required. Most air filters or purifiers do not do an adequate job of removal to be effective. Once the offending materials have been removed or treated, it is very important to determine how the problem began so that action may be taken to prevent reoccurrence. Keep the humidity level in the house below 40%. Use an air conditioner or a dehumidifier during humid months. Be sure the home has adequate ventilation, including exhaust fans in kitchen and bathrooms. Clean bathrooms with mold killing products. Do not carpet bathrooms and basements. Remove or replace previously soaked carpets and upholstery.
In some cases cleaning the affected areas with a mixture of borax and vinegar in a spray bottle works well. Other types of mold react better to bleach (1 cup bleach to 1 gallon of water) or commercially sold mold inhibitors. If you see any visible signs of mold growth, clean or remove the affected areas immediately to prevent continued growth.
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