INFORMATION ON MOLD
Every month at the Health Department we get a few dozen calls from people wondering about mold in their home or apartment. This has been especially true after a very wet summer when many homes and families throughout our four counties were affected by flooding. Generally, people that call are worried about one of two things: First, will the mold make me or my family members sick? And second, how do I get rid of it?
Many people have heard that black mold is toxic and can cause harm. The truth is, molds themselves are not toxic, but some molds can produce a toxin that is slightly poisonous. This toxin is not known to cause many problems in humans. However, while we generally tell people not to worry about toxic mold, molds of almost any type can aggravate respiratory issues if they are left to run rampant through a building. Mold spores can easily become airborne, and because they are vey small, can work their way into the lungs and throat and cause coughing, wheezing and other problems with breathing. This can be particularly problematic for young children and adults with asthma or similar issues. If there is a smoker in the home, this will also exacerbate any issues.
There is generally no reason to test for specific types of mold. The Health Department does not have any equipment that allows us to do anything special. If you can see or smell mold, you know it is there. If you cannot see anyting, consider looking under the carpet, or cutting a hole in the wall that is big enough to shine a flashlight through, to more thoroughly investigate. For small patches of mold (or mildew), we recommend using a clean cloth and mild detergent or bleach solution (less than 1 cup of bleach to 1 gallon of water) to clean away any mold on the surface. If the affected area is greater than about 12 inches by 12 inches, we recommend replacing the entire surface.
To prevent further mold growth, consider the following from
Keep humidity levels as low as you can-no higher than 50%--all day long. An air conditioner or dehumidifier will help you keep the level low.
Use an air conditioner (not evaporative cooler) or a dehumidifier during humid months.
Be sure the home has adequate ventilation, including exhaust fans in kitchen and bathrooms.
Use mold inhibitors which can be added to paints.
Clean bathroom with mold-killing products.
Do not carpet bathrooms.
Remove and replace flooded carpets.
Ensure that no moisture is entering the home through a leaky roof, walls, or foundation.
For more information, you may contact your local Health Department Office, or visit
Environmental Health Director