If we don’t eat fresh bread in a timely manner, we notice mold will quickly form. In fact if we forget about last weeks dinner leftovers for a month, again we will notice mold. But is this the same as the mold that may show up on walls after a water leak in the house? Is it all dangerous, and where does it come from? What about cleaning it up and preventing it? Lets look at a some information that might help you keep your family safe.
Where does mold come from?
Mold is naturally occurring and outdoors it is part of the natural process of breaking down dead organic matter such as fallen leaves and dead trees. Indoors, mold is quite different and should be avoided. All molds reproduce by means of tiny spores that are invisible to the naked eye and float through the air and can be carried great distances. Indoors, mold can start growing when these spores land on moist surfaces. There are many types of mold, but all require moisture for growth. If you have had water in your house through a leaky roof, broken pipe or flood waters, you are at risk for mold.
How does mold affect my health?
Mold is naturally occurring and usually is present in damp and moldy environments. The effects can be quite different person to person causing a variety of health effects. Then again some people may not be bothered at all. If you are one of those people that are sensitive to molds, you might find you have nasal stuffiness, throat irritation, coughing or wheezing, eye irritation, or, in some cases, skin irritation.
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. These people should stay away from areas that are likely to have mold, such as compost piles, cut grass, and wooded areas.
In 2004 the Institute of Medicine (IOM) found there was sufficient evidence to link indoor exposure to mold with upper respiratory tract symptoms, cough, and wheeze in otherwise healthy people; with asthma symptoms in people with asthma; and with hypersensitivity pneumonitis in individuals susceptible to that immune-mediated condition. The IOM also found limited or suggestive evidence linking indoor mold exposure and respiratory illness in otherwise healthy children.
How to clean up mold?
Inside your home 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 and fix the moisture problem. 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.
Mold growth, which often looks like spots, can be many different colors, and can smell musty. If you can see or smell mold, a health risk may be present. No matter what type of is present, you should remove it. Since the effect of mold on people can vary greatly. The best practice is to remove and work to prevent future growth.