Hints & HELP!
Mold in Homes
submitted by Lorene Bartos, Extension Educator
This article appeared in the September
12, 2003 Lincoln Journal Star Newspaper.
long have been recognized as allergens, but media attention
to some extensive mold problems has increased awareness
are mold spores everywhere. They come into houses in many
ways including on clothing and with air movement. There
usually is food and adequate temperatures for them to grow
in many parts of the home. Mold spores settle and grow in
the presence of moisture.
allergens can cause respiratory congestion, eye irritation,
headaches and fatigue. Some molds can be triggers in people
with asthma. However, it's important to realize molds haven't
suddenly become more dangerous, and labeling specific molds
as killer molds has lead to some misunderstanding. People
often call local extension offices for information on having
their homes tested for mold. If a homeowner sees a mold
problem, he or she needs to find the moisture source, make
needed changes to reduce or control the moisture and safely
get rid of the mold. Knowing the mold genus or species is
probably not necessary unless a medical professional has
requested the information.
for molds is expensive, not readily available in some areas
and not always reliable or necessary. Before testing a home,
know how the information would be used, why it's needed
and whether knowing the genus type makes a difference in
what will be done to get rid of the mold.
smell musty when moisture on cold walls and floors meets
warm air from outside that has cooled to the point at which
the moisture in it condenses. Running a dehumidifier is
one way to deal with this problem. Mold in bathrooms typically
is a bigger problem in winter. Taking showers and bathing
can put a lot of moisture into the air. If the walls or
ceiling are cool, some of that moisture will condense on
these surfaces. Wiping moisture off the shower walls and
tub and drying towels elsewhere can help. Providing more
ventilation to the exterior to get rid of the moisture before
it can condense is the best way to reduce mold in the bathroom.
It is important to find the cause of the mold and fix the
water problem as clean up alone will not solve the problem.
up mold used to be as simple as wiping down surfaces with
a diluted chlorine bleach solution. Now recommendations
include physically removing as much of the mold as possible
with a strong detergent followed by a rinse on hard surfaces.
Contaminated porous materials that aren't easily cleaned
should be thrown away. The bleach solution is reserved for
use as a sanitizer after all evidence of mold is removed
from areas that may have been exposed to dirty water, soil
and bacteria. People planning to do mold clean-up should
take careful measures to protect themselves, including wearing
goggles, gloves, clothing that covers the whole body and
a mask. At the minimum level, use a HEPA filter such as
an N95 or N100 to filter the particles. Molds can give off
toxins, so special filters are needed.
major mold problems, professionals can be hired to clean
up and remove moldy items from the home. Care should be
taken so mold spores arent spread throughout the house.
Use plastic bags or tarps to cover and or carry these items
such as carpets, boxes and other porous materials.
moisture control is the key to mold control.
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