Moisture and Mold Problems: Preventing and Solving Them in Your Home
Whether it's the slimy black spots on your shower curtain, the fuzzy white patches on your basement floor, or the slick orange film that forms on your kitchen drain, household mold is more than unsightly. In some cases, mold in your home can make you sick, especially if you have allergies or asthma.
Whether or not you're allergic to molds, mold exposure can irritate your eyes, skin, nose, throat, and lungs. Here's what you can do to combat mold problems, and take care of yourself and your home.
By Sarah Mahoney
How to quit nitpicking
It's not even noon on a Sunday, and I've been biting my tongue all morning.
When my husband sat down to Web surf two hours ago, I resisted the urge to
remind him that he had promised to clean the basement. I held my tongue again
when our 13-year-old trashed the kitchen while creating his "it's due
tomorrow!" science project. And I even managed to stifle myself when my
teenage daughter left a plate in the sink instead of reaching 18 inches...
For people sensitive to mold, inhaling or touching mold spores can cause allergic reactions, including sneezing, runny nose, red eyes, and skin rash. People with serious mold allergies may have more severe reactions, including shortness of breath. In people with asthma who are allergic to mold, breathing in spores can also cause asthma attacks.
In addition to people with allergies and asthma, others who may be more sensitive to the effects of mold include:
Infants and children
People whose immune systems are compromised due to HIV infection, cancer, liver disease, or chemotherapy
People with chronic lung disease
What Is Mold?
Molds are small organisms found almost everywhere. They can be black, white, orange, green, or purple. Outdoors, molds play an important role in nature, breaking down dead leaves, plants, and trees. Molds thrive on moisture and reproduce by means of tiny, lightweight spores that travel through the air. You’re exposed to mold every day.
In small amounts, mold spores are usually harmless, but when they land on a damp spot in your home, they can start to grow. When mold is growing on a surface, spores can be released into the air where they can be easily inhaled. If you're sensitive to mold and inhale a large number of spores, you could experience health problems.
Where Do Molds Grow?
Your walls, floors, appliances, carpet, or furniture – they can all provide the food mold needs to grow. But the thing all molds need most is moisture, so you're most likely to see mold in damp places such as bathrooms, kitchens, laundry rooms, basements, and crawl spaces.
Top Tips for Controlling Mold
It's impossible to get rid of all mold and mold spores in your home, but because mold spores can't grow without moisture, reducing moisture in your home is the best way to prevent or eliminate mold growth. If there is already mold growing in your home, it's important to clean up the mold and fix the problem causing dampness. If you clean up the mold but don't fix the problem, the mold will most likely return.
Following is some advice for reducing moisture throughout the home with specific tips for the areas most prone to dampness and mold growth: