The Health Effects of Mold
Everyone is exposed to some amount of mold every day. Not everyone is mold sensitive. However, if there are active mold spores in the home, workplace or outdoors. Over time these conditions can cause or worsen health effects.
Health Symptoms of Mold Exposure
According to a 2004 Institutes of Medicine Report, Damp Indoor Spaces and Health, the only health outcomes with sufficient evidence of an association with mold include upper respiratory (nose and throat) symptoms, cough, wheeze, and asthma symptoms among sensitized individuals.
Molds produce allergens, irritants, and sometimes toxins that may cause adverse health reactions. The types and severity of symptoms depend on the types of mold present, extent of the mold exposure and an individual’s existing allergies to mold.
What should I do if someone in my household is sensitive to mold?
Consult a health care provider. They can tell you if the symptoms may be mold allergy-related.
Keep anyone who is known to be sensitive to mold away from the exposure. You may need to find temporary living arrangements for them if the mold problem is large enough.
For more details go to the EPA Mold Website
How to clean-up mold
Clean-up of small areas of mold can be safely done by an individual home owner, who takes the proper precautions. It is important to take precautions to limit your exposure to mold and mold spores. The following are basic steps recommended by the Environmental Protections Agency (EPA):
- Scrub mold off hard surfaces with detergent and water, and dry completely.
- Fix plumbing leaks and other water problems as soon as possible. Dry all items completely.
- Absorbent or porous materials, such as ceiling tiles and carpet, may have to be thrown away if they become moldy. Mold can grow on or fill in the empty spaces and crevices of porous materials, so the mold may be difficult or impossible to remove completely.
- Avoid exposing yourself or others to mold.
- Do not paint or caulk moldy surfaces. Clean up the mold and dry the surfaces before painting. Paint applied over moldy surfaces is likely to peel.
- If you are unsure about how to clean an item, or if the item is expensive or of sentimental value, you may wish to consult a specialist. Look for specialists who are affiliated with professional organizations.
- If the problem area is large and material needs to be replaced, you may want to contact a contractor that specializes in such remediation. See, Guide for Selecting a Professional Remediation Contractor.
Protection tips for cleaning:
- Avoid breathing in mold or mold spores. In order to limit your exposure to airborne mold, you may want to wear an N-95 respirator, available at many hardware store.
- Wear gloves.. Avoid touching mold or moldy items with your bare hands. When working with water and a mild detergent, ordinary household rubber gloves may be used. If you are using a strong cleaning solution, you should select gloves made from natural rubber, neoprene, nitrile, polyurethane, or PVC (see Cleanup and Biocides).
- Wear goggles. Avoid getting mold or mold spores in your eyes.
For more information on mold, visit: www.epa.gov/mold
Read the publication, "A Brief Guide to Mold, Moisture, and Your Home" at www.epa.gov/mold/moldguide.html