The po­ten­tially harm­ful ef­fects of mold in your home

The Progress-Index - At Home - - NEWS -

The pres­ence of mold in a home is a sight few home­own­ers want to see. In ad­di­tion to be­ing un­sightly, mold found in a home can be un­healthy.

While cer­tain clean­ers may prove ef­fec­tive at re­mov­ing mold, home­own­ers who want to re­move ex­ist­ing mold growths and pre­vent fu­ture growths may ben­e­fit from gain­ing a greater un­der­stand­ing of mold and why it grows inside homes.

What is mold?

Mold is a blan­ket term used to de­scribe fungi that can be found both in­doors and out­doors. Many species of mold ex­ist, and the Cen­ters for Dis­ease Con­trol and Preven­tion notes that some es­ti­mates sug­gest there may be more than three hun­dred thou­sand dif­fer­ent species of mold. Common in­door molds in­clude cla­dospo­rium, peni­cil­lium, al­ternaria, and aspergillus.

Which con­di­tions pro­mote mold growth?

Home­own­ers may no­tice that mold tends to grow in spe­cific ar­eas of their homes but not in oth­ers, and that’s be­cause molds grow best in cer­tain con­di­tions. Warm, damp and hu­mid con­di­tions, such as those found in poorly ven­ti­lated bath­rooms and base­ments, make ideal breed­ing grounds for mold.

What are the ef­fects of mold ex­po­sure?

Molds are a nat­u­ral and re­silient part of the en­vi­ron­ment, but mold growth in­doors should be ad­dressed and avoided. Mold spores are tiny and in­vis­i­ble to the naked eye, and when th­ese spores at­tach to wet sur­faces, they be­gin to grow. Once th­ese spores be­gin to grow, they can then af­fect peo­ple in var­i­ous ways. Roughly a decade ago, the In­sti­tute of Medicine found suf­fi­cient ev­i­dence to support a link be­tween ex­po­sure to in­door mold and res­pi­ra­tory tract is­sues, such as cough­ing and wheez­ing in peo­ple who were oth­er­wise healthy. The same re­port found that mold may trig­ger asthma symp­toms among peo­ple with asthma and hy­per­sen­si­tiv­ity pneu­moni­tis, a dis­ease in which the lungs are in­flamed when a per­son breathes in cer­tain dusts he or she is al­ler­gic to, in peo­ple sus­cep­ti­ble to that con­di­tion.

Some peo­ple who do not have a pre­ex­ist­ing con­di­tion can still be sen­si­tive to molds. When ex­posed to mold, such peo­ple may ex­pe­ri­ence symp­toms like nasal stuffi­ness, eye ir­ri­ta­tion, wheez­ing, or skin ir­ri­ta­tion.

How can ex­po­sure to mold be de­creased at home?

Ad­e­quate ven­ti­la­tion is ar­guably the home­owner’s best friend with re­gard to re­duc­ing mold ex­po­sure at home. Con­trol hu­mid­ity lev­els in ar­eas of the home that tend to be warm and hu­mid, such as the kitchen and bath­room. In­stall an ex­haust fan in the kitchen and bath­room and a win­dow in the bath­room if yours does not al­ready have one.

The CDC rec­om­mends that hu­mid­ity lev­els be no higher than 50 per­cent through­out the day, and an air con­di­tioner and dehumidifier can help you keep in­door hu­mid­ity lev­els in check, es­pe­cially dur­ing the sum­mer when hu­mid­ity lev­els tend to be their high­est of any time dur­ing the year.

When ren­o­vat­ing your home, re­move any ex­ist­ing car­pet­ing from bath­rooms and base­ments and toss out soaked car­pets or up­hol­stery as well. If paint­ing will be part of your home ren­o­va­tion projects, add mold in­hibitors to paints prior to ap­pli­ca­tion.

Mold that grows inside a home is un­sightly and po­ten­tially un­healthy. But con­cerned home­own­ers can take sev­eral re­ac­tive and proac­tive steps to re­duce ex­ist­ing mold growths and pre­vent them from re­turn­ing in the fu­ture.

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