Mold is a fascinating fungus that has been around for about 400 million years. Some molds are beneficial and welcome in our lives: fungus contributions to the creation of cheese, soy sauce and some medicines. Mold is your home is another story.When found in your living space mold can not only cause a mess and damage your building; it can also cause health issues.
The stuff may look harmless, but mold can contribute to a host of health problems such as allergic reactions, asthma attacks, sinus infections rashes, eye irritation headaches, fatigue, sore throats, nose bleeds and increased colds and flues. Molds may release irritants, allergens and in the worst case scenario, toxins.
In order to survive, mold needs moisture, heat and food. It thrives in a damp environment and can often be found in areas like basements, kitchens, bathrooms, in walls and under floors where leaking pipes contribute to moisture build up. You may be familiar with black, blue or white mold, but this fungus comes in many colors. Spots of red, orange, yellow and purple may also be spores. Sometimes your nose will alert you to its presence – you may be able to detect a musty or earthy scent.
If the problem covers a small area you may want to tackle the clean up yourself. Be sure to protect yourself: wear rubber gloves, safety glasses and a disposable dust mask. This approach is appropriate for mold growing in small patches on areas such as a window sill or shower. If it is more than a minimal patch, you should use plastic sheeting to isolate the area and anyone who is affected by the mold should not be present.
Always err on the side of caution when battling the fungus. Although you may use bleach to test an area (dab the spot with bleach, if it disappears you may be facing mold) you should never use it to kill the fungus. Bleach comes with its own list of potential health issues and is volatile in the environment. Use a detergent, get rid of the moldy materials, vacuum thoroughly and be sure to dry the place out to prevent further growth. Dead mold can still cause health issues, so dispose of it properly.
You should call in backup if: someone in the house has health concerns that seem to worsen inside the house, the mold is reoccurring, there are large amounts of mold (more than three patches, maximum 10 feet square each) or your home is very humid.
Remember, the sooner you deal with mold, the better. By getting the problem under control before it spreads, your whole family will breathe a little easier.