Questions, answers and facts about mold

Filed in: Diseases & Conditions.

Questions, answers and facts about mold

Foundations of the mold Why is mold growing in my house? Can mold cause health problems? Who should do the cleaning? What are the mold cleanup guidelines? Tips and techniques What should you bring when cleaning moldy areas? Prevention and control of humidity and mold. What about the hidden mold?

Foundations of the mold

The key to controlling mold is moisture control. If mold is a problem in your home, you should clean it quickly Y fix the water problem It is important to dry the areas and items damaged by the water within 24-48 hours to prevent mold growth.

Why does mold grow in my home? Molds are part of the natural environment. On the outside, molds play a role in nature by breaking down dead organic matter, such as fallen leaves and dead trees, but inside, mold growth must be avoided. Molds reproduce by means of small spores; The spores are invisible to the naked eye and float through the outside and inside air. Mold can begin to grow indoors when mold spores fall on wet surfaces. There are many types of mold, and none of them will grow without water or moisture.

Mold growing outdoors on firewood
(Mold grows outdoors in the wood, the molds come in many colors, here the molds are shown both white and black).

Can mold cause health problems? In general, molds are not a problem indoors, unless mold spores fall into a damp place or start to grow. Molds have the potential to cause health problems. Molds produce allergens (substances that can cause allergic reactions), irritants and, in some cases, potentially toxic substances (mycotoxins). Inhaling or touching mold or mildew spores can cause allergic reactions in sensitive people. Allergic responses include symptoms such as hay fever, sneezing, runny nose, red eyes, and rash (dermatitis). Allergic reactions to mold are common. They can be immediate or delayed. Molds can also cause asthma attacks in people with asthma who are allergic to mold. In addition, exposure to mold can irritate the eyes, skin, nose, throat and lungs of people who are allergic and non-allergic to mold. Symptoms other than allergic and irritant types are not commonly reported as a result of inhaling mold. Research on mold and health effects is ongoing. This booklet provides a brief description; it does not describe all the potential health effects related to mold exposure. For more detailed information consult a health professional. You can also consult your local or state health department.

How can I get rid of mold? It is impossible to get rid of all the mold and spores inside; Some mold spores will be found floating in the air and in the dust of the house. Mold spores will not grow if moisture is not present. Mold growth indoors can and should be prevented or controlled by controlling indoor humidity. If there is mold in your home, you should clean the mold and solve the water problem. If you clean the mold, but it does not solve the water problem, the mold problem is likely to reappear.

Magnified mold spores

The molds can gradually destroy the things on which they grow. You can prevent damage to your home and furniture, save money and avoid potential health problems by controlling humidity and eliminating mold growth.

Who should do the cleaning?

leaky windowIf you already have a mold problem – ACT RAPIDLY. Mold damages what grows. The more it grows, the more damage it can cause.

Who should do the cleaning depends on a number of factors. One consideration is the size of the mold problem. If the mold area measures less than about 10 square feet (less than about a 3 foot by 3 foot patch), in most cases, you can do the work yourself, following the guidelines below. But nevertheless:

If there has been a lot of water damage and / or mold growth covers more than 10 square feet, see the US Environmental Protection Agency guide. UU (EPA): Mold remediation in schools and commercial buildings. Although it focuses on schools and commercial buildings, this document is applicable to other types of buildings. It is available free of charge by calling the EPA's Indoor Air Quality Information Exchange Center at (800) 438-4318, or at If you choose to hire a contractor (or other professional service provider) to do the cleaning, make sure the contractor has experience in cleaning up mold. Check references and ask the contractor to follow EPA recommendations Mold remediation in schools and commercial buildings, the guidelines of the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH) or other guidelines of professional or governmental organizations. If you suspect that the heating / ventilation / air conditioning (HVAC) system may be contaminated with mold (it is part of a moisture problem identified, or if there is mold near the entrance to the system), consult the EPA guide. Should you clean the air ducts in your home? before taking new measures. Do not run the HVAC system if you know or suspect that it is contaminated with mold, as it could spread mold throughout the building. Visit, or call (800) 438-4318 for a free copy. If water and / or mold damage was caused by sewage or other contaminated water, call a professional who has experience cleaning and repairing buildings damaged by contaminated water. If you have health problems, consult a health professional before beginning cleaning.

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Mold cleaning guidelines Tips for bathroom molds

Tips and techniques The tips and techniques presented in this section will help you solve your mold problem. Professional cleaners or remedies may use methods not covered in this publication. Keep in mind that mold can cause stains and cosmetic damage. It may not be possible to clean an item to restore its original appearance.

Mold in garden chair

Repair leaks in pipes and other water problems as soon as possible. Dry all items completely. Scrub mold from hard surfaces with detergent and water, and dry thoroughly. Absorbent or porous materials, such as ceiling tiles and carpets, should be discarded if they become moldy. Mold can grow or fill in voids and cracks in porous materials, so the mold can be difficult or impossible to eliminate completely. Avoid exposing yourself or others to mold (see the discussions: "What to use when cleaning moldy areas" and "Hidden mold"). Do not paint or caulk surfaces with mold. Clean the mold and dry the surfaces before painting. Paint applied on moldy surfaces is likely to peel. If you are not sure how to clean an item, or if the item is expensive or of sentimental value, you can consult a specialist. Specialists in furniture repair, restoration, painting, restoration and art conservation, carpet and carpet cleaning, water damage and fire or water restoration can be found in the telephone directories. Be sure to ask for and verify the references. Look for specialists who are affiliated with professional organizations.

Cast mold

What to use when cleaning areas with mold

moldy suitcasecleaning moldAvoid inhaling mold or mildew spores. To limit your exposure to mold in the air, you can use an N-95 respirator, available at many hardware stores and at companies that advertise on the Internet. (They cost around $ 12 to $ 25). Some N-95 respirators resemble a paper dust mask with a nozzle on the front, others are made primarily of plastic or rubber and have removable cartridges that trap most of the mold spores. To be effective, the respirator or mask must be adjusted correctly, therefore, carefully follow the instructions supplied with the respirator. Keep in mind that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires respirators to be properly adjusted (fit tests) when used in a work environment; consult OSHA for more information (800-321-OSHA or

Wear gloves. Long gloves that extend to the middle of the forearm are recommended. When working with water and a mild detergent, common rubber gloves can be used. If you are using a disinfectant, a biocide such as chlorine bleach or a strong cleaning solution, you should select gloves made of natural rubber, neoprene, nitrile, polyurethane or PVC (see "Cleaning and biocides"). Avoid touching moldy or moldy items with bare hands.

Wear protective glasses. Glasses that do not have ventilation holes are recommended. Avoid spores forming in your eyes.

How can I know when the remediation or cleanup ends? It must have completely solved the water or moisture problem before the cleaning or remediation can be considered completed.

I should have completed the mold removal. Visible mold and musty odors should not be present. Keep in mind that mold can cause stains and cosmetic damage. You should have revisited the site (s) shortly after cleaning and should not show signs of water damage or mold growth. People should have been able to occupy or reoccupy the area without health complaints or physical symptoms. Ultimately, this is a judgment call; There is no easy answer. If you have any questions or concerns, call the EPA IAQ INFO Indoor Air Quality Information Center at (800) 438-4318.

Moisture and Mold Prevention and Control Tips

Mold control is the key to mold control!Condensation inside a windowHumidity control is the key to controlling mold, so when leaks or spills occur indoors, ACT QUICKLY. If wet or damp materials or areas are dried 24 to 48 hours after a leak or spill, in most cases the mold will not grow.

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Clean and repair the roof gutters regularly. Make sure that the ground is tilted away from the foundations of the building, so that water does not enter or accumulate around the foundations. Keep drip trays in the air conditioner and drainage lines clear and free of obstructions. Keep the interior humidity low. If possible, keep indoor humidity below 60 percent (ideally between 30 and 50 percent) of relative humidity. Relative humidity can be measured with a humidity or humidity meter, a small, inexpensive instrument ($ 10- $ 50) available at many hardware stores. If you see condensation or moisture in windows, walls or pipes, ACT QUICKLY to dry the wet surface and reduce the source of moisture / water. Condensation can be a sign of high humidity.

Actions that will help reduce humidity:

Ventilate appliances that produce moisture, such as clothes dryers, stoves, and kerosene heaters to the outside, whenever possible. (Combustion appliances such as stoves and kerosene heaters produce water vapor and will increase moisture unless ventilated outdoors). Use air conditioners and / or dehumidifiers when necessary. Run the bathroom fan or open the window when showering. Use extractors or open windows when cooking, running the dishwasher or dishes, etc.

Actions that will help prevent condensation:

Reduce humidity (see above). Increase ventilation or air movement by opening doors and / or windows, when practical. Use fans when necessary. Cover cold surfaces, such as cold water pipes, with insulation. Increase the air temperature.

Mold at the head

Tests or samples for the mold? Do you need a sample for the mold? In most cases, if there is visible growth of mold, sampling is unnecessary. Since EPA or other federal limits for mold or mold spores have not been established, sampling can not be used to verify a building's compliance with federal mold standards. Surface sampling can be useful in determining if an area has been properly cleaned or remediated. Mold sampling should be done by professionals who have specific experience in the design of mold sampling protocols, sampling methods and interpretation of results. The analysis of the sample should follow the analytical methods recommended by the American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA), the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH) or other professional organizations.

Hidden mold Suspicion of hidden mold. Rust growing on the back of the wallpaperYou may suspect that there is hidden mold if the building smells of mold, but you can not see the source or if you know there has been water damage and residents are reporting health problems. Mold may be hidden in places such as the back of the dry wall, wallpaper or panels, the top side of the ceiling tiles, the bottom of carpets and pads, etc. Other possible locations of hidden mold include areas inside the walls around the pipes (leaking or condensing pipes), the surface of the walls behind the furniture (where condensation forms), the interior of the pipeline, and in the Ceiling materials on roof tiles (due to roof leaks or insufficient insulation).

Investigating hidden mold problems Investigating hidden mold problems can be difficult and will require caution when research involves potential disturbing sites of mold growth. For example, removing the wallpaper can lead to a massive release of spores if mold is growing on the bottom of the paper. If you think you may have a hidden mold problem, consider hiring an experienced professional.

Cleaning and biocides Biocides are substances that can destroy living organisms. The use of a chemical or biocide that kills organisms such as mold (chlorine bleach, for example) as a routine practice during the cleaning of mold is not recommended. There may be cases, however, when professional judgment may indicate their use (for example, when immunocompromised individuals are present). In most cases, it is not possible or desirable to sterilize an area; a background level of mold spores will be maintained; these spores will not grow if the moisture problem has been solved. If you choose to use disinfectants or biocides, always ventilate the area and expel air to the outside. Never mix the chlorine solution with other cleaning solutions or detergents that contain ammonia, as toxic fumes may be produced.

Keep in mind that: dead mold can still cause allergic reactions in some people, so it is not enough to simply kill the mold, it should also be removed.

Water stain on a basement wallSource: United States Environmental Protection Agency (


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