Mold can cause a lot of damage in the home, spreading across walls and hiding from sight. It is every homeowner’s fear. Mold can enter your home through open doorways, windows, vents, and heating and air conditioning systems. Even worse, it could affect your health.
Mold doesn’t have to be scary. Homeowners just need to educate themselves on how to combat mold and the areas to target for your inspections.
There are three main ingredients to create mold in your home. Mold needs oxygen, moisture, and “food”. Food can be in the form of many things, typically surface dirt, cotton, and drywall. Once these three conditions are in play, mold will begin to form.
Mold is typically found in basements, bathrooms and kitchens where high humidity and moisture are present. It’s important to make sure you sufficiently ventilate the area after your showers, cooking, and run a dehumidifier in your basement to fend off moisture.
Allergy and Respiratory Issues
Some people are sensitive to molds. For these people, molds can cause nasal stuffiness and cold-like symptoms. Immune-compromised people and people with chronic lung illnesses, such as obstructive lung disease, may get serious infections in their lungs when they are exposed to mold. People who already suffer from allergies, asthma, or compromised immune systems could have more severe reactions. The most common health problem is an allergic reaction. Other problems are respiratory and/or immune system responses including respiratory symptoms, respiratory infections, exacerbation of asthma, and allergic fungal sinusitis.
Symptoms of mold exposure can include:
- Nasal and sinus congestion, runny nose
- Respiratory problems, such as wheezing, difficulty breathing and chest tightness
- Throat irritation
- Sneezing / Sneezing fits
Severe reactions are rare but possible. A person’s reaction to mold depends on their sensitivity and other health conditions, the amount of mold present, length of exposure and the type of mold or mold products.
In 2004 the Institute of Medicine found there was sufficient evidence to link indoor exposure to mold with upper respiratory tract symptoms in otherwise healthy people. More recently, the CDC stated exposure to mold early in a child’s life could be associated with the development of asthma.
You may develop rashes on your skin after an exposure to black mold. This allergic reaction causes inflammation, swelling, and irritation of the skin. In severe cases, swelling occurs in the throat, which can be life-threatening because it can impede breathing. This is a rare occurrence due to mold allergy, but rashes and hives are not at all uncommon.
If you are having a skin reaction to toxic mold you may have mild or moderate pink and brown skin rashes on any part of your skin. These rashes may itch, although they do not always, and may go away and reappear periodically.
Other symptoms include skin that has or is:
- Dry patches or scales
- Warm to the touch
- Red bumps
- Blisters that ooze pus
A rash from mold can be extremely itchy and uncomfortable, and if you scratch too much, you risk breaking the skin and causing an infection. This can lead to an illness requiring medical care, including antibiotics, and may also cause scarring.
If you can see or smell mold, a health risk may be present. Mold will grow in places with a lot of moisture, such as around leaks in roofs, windows, or pipes, or where there has been flooding. You can control mold growth by:
- Controlling humidity levels
- Promptly fixing leaky roofs, windows, and pipes
- Thoroughly cleaning and drying after flooding
- Ventilating shower, laundry, and cooking areas
If mold is growing in your home, you need to clean up the mold and fix the moisture problem. If the area is small, you can typically remove and remediate the mold on your own.
Mold growth can be removed from hard surfaces with commercial products, soap and water, or a bleach solution of no more than 1 cup of household laundry bleach in 1 gallon of water.
If the mold is on drywall or other organic surface, you can not use bleach, as bleach is made of water and you’ll only “bleach” the mold, not kill it. You’ll need to purchase a soap or biocide that can remove mold, otherwise, your mold problem will return.
If you have a large area that contains mold, you best solution will be professional mold remediation. It is commonly suggested to hire a mold clean-up firm for contamination areas greater than 30 square feet.
If you are concerned about mold in your home, try and identify the source of moisture that is creating it and fix that first. Then tackle the mold.