Mold hasn’t been in the headlines like it used to. Several years ago, it was the “hot” story of the moment, and everyone was talking about how to rid your house of mold and keep it from returning. Today, a lot of the furor over mold cleanup has died down, but it remains a serious problem that homeowners should take note of.
According to the EPA, there is no one particular type of mold; there are over 100,000 different types that can emit thousands of different microtoxins and spores, which can often affect the health of anyone living in the environment. Of the more common household types of mold are cladsporium, penicillum, and mucor. These can be easily cleaned with common cleaning solutions.
Some types of black mold are as serious as the warnings you’ve heard. The two most serious types of black mold, or toxic mold, are Stachybotrys and Memmoniella. These molds appear slimy when wet and have whit edges. They can grow where water has absorbed into wood, paper, and cotton products. As many as half of all homes are belived to have some Stachybotrys growth. It is imperative to get any black mold you may find tested to see how dangerous the growth is. Enhaling or touching black mold can have serious health consequences.
According to the California Department of Health Services, having one or more of these allergic reactions may be tied to mold:
* Respiratory Problems (wheezing)
* Nasal and sinus congestion
* Watery, red, or burning eyes
* Dry, hacking cough or sore throat
* Nose and throat irritation
* Shortness of breath
* Skin irritation
* Central nerbous system problems (headaches, memory problems, mood swings)
* Aches and pains
* Possible fever
Of course, these symptoms do not necessarily mean you have aa mold problem, you should just look into it.
Testing your home for mold can be time consuming and expensive, and it may not even determine if your mold exposure is erious. Experts suggest you first clean the mold.
Ideally, mold can grow in environments with a humidity level above 60%. In most homes, that limits the areas to places like the restroom, kitchen, and the laundry room. In addition, any area that has a water source is a potential site, because of unseen water leaks or spills that aren’t properly dried.
Once you identify areas of possible mold growth in your home, there are preventable measures you can take. If you can increase air circulation or the presence of direct sunlight into these areas, by pullling open drapes or opening windows, do that on a regular basis. For dark, damp places like bathroom closets or under sinks, aggressive cleaning with a strong soap and brush for rough surfaces (cloths are fine for smooth surfaces) can prevent mold from taking hold. If you already have mold, and are afraid of allergic reactions, use rubber gloves, masks, and stronger cleaning solutions. Bleach is the ideal cleaning agent, but it can also make you sick as well, so be careful.
If you’ve discovered mold, there’s no reason to panic. It isn’t necessary to call a professional unless the mold is widespread. If the mold growth is thick, and measures more than ten square feet, your best bet is to call a professional That may indicate a larger problem inside the wall. However, most household mold problems are much smaller, and treatable with aggressive cleaning with soap and water, and thorough drying.
Once you clean a molded area, you must also remove the material that was infected with mold. Toxic residue can still reside in dead mold spores, so it must be removed. It can be costly to replace walls or other materials, but it is the only way to ensure the mold does not continue to affect you.
While mold can be a serious problem, you can avoid it with a little planning and rid your house of it with a little work.