What you should know about Mold
Mold, mildew, and fungi are all terms generally used to describe a group of diverse plants which appear as woolly or powdery growth. They have been recognized as an allergen for over 100 years. Mold infestation is mentioned in the Bible in Leviticus chapters 11-14.
Molds are everywhere, indoors and out, in every type of climate, and in every social and economic condition. They grow in places we would not expect. They are elusive and will be more prevalent at different times of the day or night depending on the type of mold. A single mold can germinate and produce hundreds of thousands of airborne spores in 4-9 days.
Surveys have shown that high mold and pollen counts frequently occur at the same time of year. Hay fever symptoms may be caused by mold rather than pollen.
Mold needs moisture, food, which can be any organic matter, and preferably warm temperatures. Relative humidity below 40% discourages mold growth.
Molds are found in soil and in decaying leaves, straw, grains, and wood. Any contact with these things can expose you to mold. Mowing the grass; raking leaves, working in the soil, working in a garage, barn, hay field, or grain storage areas, cleaning out pet litter and sleeping areas, or cleaning your closet can bring on symptoms associated with mold allergy.
Lifestyles That Increase Mold Counts
Poor housekeeping practices - dirty dishes and food left around the house, trash kept in the house in cans or compactors, dirty clothes lying around, and infrequent housecleaning-can all increase mold growth.
The use of ceiling fans in lieu of air conditioning can increase mold levels in homes. Higher thermostat settings mean the air conditioner operates less so humidity is not removed from the air.
Inefficient filters allow dirt to accumulate on coils, the drain pan, and duct work. This dirt becomes "food" for mold. Washable, electrostatic filters which contain media treated with an anti-microbial inhibitor are preferred and have proven effective in reducing mold levels in homes.
Where Do Molds Grow?
- Kitty Litter
- Bird Cages
- Male Animals
- Heavily Draped Windows
- Roof or Plumbing Leaks
- Unsealed Concrete Slabs
- Chimney Swift Droppings/Feathers
- Any Moist Carpet
- Poorly Ventilated Closets
- Air Conditioning Drain Pan
- A/C Duct Work and Vents
- Blocked A/C Drain Pans
- Vaporizers and Humidifiers
- House Plants
- Frost-free Refrigerator Drain Pans
- Laundry Room
- Hot Tubs and Jacuzzis
- Double-paned Windows
- Worn Clothing
- Leather Products
- Behind Base Boards and Walls
- Garbage-Disposals and Water Traps
- Soiled Trash Cans and Compactors
- Dirty Dishes
- Shrubs and Leaves Against the House
- Standing Water In or Under a House
- Upholstered Furniture
- Bathroom and Kitchen
How To Locate Mold
- A gravity mold test can be done in the rooms you suspect have high mold counts.
- Inspect walls, ceilings, carpets, windowsills, drain pan, ductwork, vents, bathrooms, and wall board for any darkened or discolored areas.
How To Reduce Mold Exposure
- Decrease moisture and the food source for mold on all surfaces.
- Use a high performance electrostatic air filter in the central air system.
- Remove items on which mold can grow from the bedroom.
- Use a room air purifier in the bedroom.
- Drain and ventilate areas under and around the house.
- Clean and maintain central air system.
- Use air conditioning to reduce humidity.
- Use a dehumidifier to keep relative humidity below 40%.
- Frequently use a HEPA vacuum cleaner on carpets and furniture.
- Clean visible mold from surfaces using Safety Clean. Treat cleaned areas with X-158.
- Remove moldy carpet.
- Ventilate and put lights in closets.
- Keep shrubs and grass trimmed from around the foundation of the house.
- Wear a mask when doing any activity that could expose you to mold spores.