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Allergy Be Gone Newsletter - June, 2006

Mold Problems and Ways to Fix Them

Summer's warm and humid weather creates perfect conditions for mold - one of the most commonly encountered allergens - to develop. Everyone is exposed to some mold on a daily basis without evident harm. It is common to find mold spores in the air inside homes, and most of the airborne spores found indoors come from outdoor sources. Most people are unharmed by such encounters with mold. But sometimes, mold can cause damage, both to your health and your finances.

Introduction to mold

Molds under a microscope
Mold under a microscope

Molds are simple, microscopic organisms, present virtually everywhere - indoors and outdoors. For molds to grow and reproduce, they need only a food source - any organic material, such as leaves, wood, paper, or dirt - and moisture. To reproduce, molds release countless tiny spores, which waft through the indoor and outdoor air continually. These spores are what causes mold allergies and asthmatic attacks, since they are tiny enough to get inside your airial pathways and lungs, causing irritation.

When mold spores land on a damp spot indoors, they may begin growing and digesting whatever they are growing on. When excessive moisture or water accumulates indoors, mold growth will often occur, particularly if the moisture problem remains undiscovered or un-addressed.

How does mold affect people?

For those sensitive to mold, exposure to mold spores can cause symptoms such as nasal stuffiness, eye irritation, wheezing, or skin irritation, amongst other things. Some people, such as those with serious allergies to mold, may have more severe reactions, like fever and shortness of breath. Those with chronic lung illnesses, such as obstructive lung disease, may develop mold infections in their lungs. Mold spores can also trigger asthma episodes, so people with asthma should avoid contact with or exposure to molds.

Also, because mold digests whatever it grows on, objects exposed to it - carpets, paintings or expensive furniture, just to name a few - can eventually get destroyed. A mold patch settled in the foundations of a building can gradually weaken them to the point when walls start cracking and crumbling apart.

How to tell if a house is mold-infested?

Mold tends to hide away from the prying eyes
Mold tends to hide away
from the prying eyes.
This patch was found
behind a wallpaper.

You may suspect that you have mold if you see discolored patches or cottony or speckled growth on walls or furniture or if you smell an earthy or musty odor. You also may suspect mold contamination if mold-allergic individuals experience some of the symptoms listed above when in the house. Evidence of past or ongoing water damage should also trigger more thorough inspection.

Be on the lookout in your home for common sources of indoor moisture that may lead to mold problems:

  • Flooding
  • Leaky roofs
  • Plumbing leaks
  • Overflow from sinks or sewers
  • Damp basement or crawl space
  • Steam from shower or cooking
  • How to get rid of mold?

    A leaking roof may be the cause of your home being infested by mold
    A leaking roof may be
    the cause of your home
    being infested by mold
    1. Identify and eliminate sources of moisture
    • Fix the source of the water problem or leak to prevent mold growth.
    • Reduce indoor humidity (to 30-60% ) to decrease mold growth by: venting bathrooms, dryers, and other moisture-generating sources to the outside; using air conditioners and dehumidifiers; increasing ventilation; using exhaust fans whenever cooking, dishwashing, and cleaning. DO NOT use the home's central blower if flooding has occurred in it or in any of the ducts. DO NOT use fans if mold may have already started to grow (more than 48 hours since flooding).
    Use protective gear when cleaning the mold off
    Use protective gear
    when cleaning the mold
    2. Clean and dry moldy areas
    • Clean and dry any damp or wet building materials and furnishings within 24-48 hours to prevent mold growth.
    • Clean mold off hard surfaces with special mold cleaners, and dry completely. Absorbent materials such as ceiling tiles, that are moldy, may need to be replaced.
    • Use protective gear. A mold-proof face mask and a pair of rubber gloves should be sufficient for a small mold-infested area. Use full-body work coveralls and protective goggles when dealing with a medium (a full bathroom or a mold-infested basement, for example) to large (whole building infestation) contamination problem - or consider calling in a professional.
    Dispose of any infested material immediately
    Dispose of any infested
    materials immediately
    3. Dispose of all infested material
    • Discard porous materials (for example, ceiling tiles, sheetrock, carpeting, and wood products).
    • Bag and discard moldy items, such as rags, paper, leaves, and debris; if properly enclosed, items can be disposed with household trash.
    • Dry affected areas for 2 or 3 days.
    • Clean up should begin after the moisture source is fixed and excess water has been removed. Spores are more easily released when moldy materials dry out, hence it is advisable to remove moldy items as soon as possible.
    • Get rid of the clothes you were wearing while cleaning the molds up - or at least wash them thoroughly.
    4. Take appropriate measures to make sure that mold does not return.
    • Re-paint the surfaces damaged by mold using mold-inhibiting paint additives. DO NOT paint over a moldy surface, since paint will most likely peel; clean the mold up first.
    • Run dehumidifiers and air conditioners to lower humidity.
    • Use special mold zappers and sterilizers. These appliances use high temperature to destroy mold spores and prevent them from spreading.
    • Use furnace filters to prevent mold spores from entering your home via ventilation system.

    Allergy Be Gone Recommends:

    AirFree Air Sterilizer and Purifier
    AirFree Air Sterilizer and Purifier
    Quickly removes any excess humidity.

    DeLonghi 50 pint Dehumidifier
    DeLonghi 50 pint Dehumidifier
    Quickly removes any excess humidity.

    DeLonghi 40 pint Dehumidifier w/ Pump
    DeLonghi 40 pint Dehumidifier w/ Pump
    Great for dealing with humidity in a basement.

    Eva-Dry Mini-Dehumidifier
    Eva-Dry Mini-Dehumidifier
    A dehumidifier that fits on your desk! Perfect for small rooms and closets.

    We have a large selection of Face Masks, Goggles, and protective gear to keep you healthy while exposed to outdoor conditions!

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