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Mold

What you need to know about indoor mold…

  • Mold is a NATURAL part of the environment and can be found everywhere. That being said, it can be unsightly, smelly, and potentially harmful to health.
  • Moisture is the key to MOLD CONTROL!
  • There are hundreds of types of molds that come in variety of colors (green, blue, orange, white, and black to name a few).
  • Mold can cause an allergic reaction in many, which usually presents as cold SYMPTOMS, respiratory discomfort, or a cough. Those who are not allergic to mold will not experience health effects. For those who are affected by mold, health effects will vary based on allergy sensitivity. See your medical provider if you are experiencing symptoms.
  • Those will asthma, lung disease, or a compromised immune system may have a more severe reaction to mold.
  • Most homeowners are capable of determining if they have mold. Simply look for mold in place that may be subject to water issues (i.e. underneath sinks, laundry rooms, bathrooms, near roof leaks, etc.) Generally speaking, if you see mold you have mold.
  • To prevent mold growth, clean and dry wet materials and furnishings in 24-48 hours.
  • Mold can be nearly anywhere; they can grow on virtually any substance, providing moisture is present. For example, molds can grow on wood, paper, carpet, foods, etc.
  • Click Here! for a PDF factsheet.

 

Should I test for mold?mold2

Cerro Gordo County Department of Public Health and the Iowa Department of Public Health do not recommend MOLD TESTING for the following reasons:

  1. There are no regulatory guidelines or health based standards to compare the test results.
  2. Mold is everywhere in the environment and levels can vary day by day.
  3. Knowing the SPECIES of mold is not useful in most cases and will not determine health risk.
  4. Mold testing can be very expensive.

The best way to detect mold is to look for it through a visual assessment.

 

Toxic Hype: “Black Mold”  

BLACK MOLD is not a scientific term but a media-created term referring to STACHYBOTRYS as “black” or “toxic” mold. Presence of this mold does not mean toxins are airborne. Health risks from this type of mold are unproven.

Keep in mind, approximately ~50% of molds appear black and should be cleaned in the same way as any other type or color of mold. Click here! for more information.

 

What you should do if you have a mold problem:

  • Identify the scope of the problem, FIX the water problem, and clean up the existing mold.
  • VENT necessary appliances such as clothes dryers, stoves, etc.
  • Keep indoor HUMIDITY low (30-60%) and purchase a dehumidifier or air purifier if necessary.
  • You may need to throw away porous materials with mold such as drywall, insulation, carpets, wallpaper, furniture, or ceiling tiles.

 

 Tips for mold clean up:

  • Wear PROTECTIVE EQUIPMENT: gloves, googles, and a N95 or N100/P100/HEPA respirator (found at hardware stores).
  • Clean hard surfaces with mold using soap and water.
  • BLEACH can be used, but is optional and comes with a warning, it can increase health effects if the area being cleaned by bleach is not ventilated or if too much bleach is used. Guideline if using bleach: ¼ to ½ cup bleach per gallon of water. Caution: NEVER mix bleach with ammonia or other chemicals.
  • If you are allergic to mold or dealing with mold that covers more than 10 square feet, it is recommended to hire a contractor or mold REMEDIATION company to clean up the mold.

 

Controlling home moisture, especially condensation

To keep your home healthy, relative humidity levels should be between 30-65%. (To measure relative humidity, you can purchase a hygrometer.) Mold growth usually occurs at humidity levels of 70%+.

  • Condensation can be controlled by reducing relative indoor humidity. Reducing high humidity also decreases the susceptibility of mold growth.
  • In the wintertime, a typical window will produce condensation if the inside relative humidity is about 40% and the outdoor temperature is zero or colder. At 30% relative humidity, condensation does not form until outdoor temperatures are below about -20 degrees.
  • Condensation can also be controlled by warming the window surface (i.e. installing more energy efficient windows, adding insulation, or using plastic window covering inside).
  • Proper ventilation is important (i.e. venting bathrooms, clothes dryers, and stoves). An air-to-air heat exchanger can manage proper ventilation rates.
  • Moisture can be removed by running a dehumidifier in the winter or an air conditioner in the summer.

 

For more information or if you think you have a mold issue, contact Jenna at 641-421-9339 or jwillems@cghealth.com.

 

Mold in Homes Information Booklet
Source: EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) 

Water in your home can come from many sources. Water can enter your home by leaking or by seeping through basement floors. Showers or even cooking can add moisture to the air in your home.

The amount of moisture that the air in your home can hold depends on the temperature of the air. As the temperature goes down, the air is able to hold less moisture. This is why, in cold weather, moisture condenses on cold surfaces (for example, drops of water form on the inside of a window). This moisture can encourage biological pollutants to grow.

The EPA publication, “A Brief Guide to Mold, Moisture, and Your Home,” provides information and guidance for homeowners and renters on how to clean up residential mold problems and how to prevent mold growth.

Mold guide

A Brief Guide to Mold, Moisture, and Your Home

You will need Adobe Reader to view some of the files on this page. See EPA’s About PDF page to learn more.

 

Other Resources:

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