Each summer, as temperature and humidity rise, mold invades thousands of homes. Some 10% of the U.S. population is sensitive to mold, and invisible mold spores cause countless allergic reactions, asthma attacks, and sinus infections, according to the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology.
Mold also wreaks havoc on building materials. In nature, mold breaks down decaying organic matter, but in a home, it can decompose floors, walls, and other structures.
Fortunately, mold growth can be controlled. “The key to mold control is moisture control,” says Steven Hong, home health specialist and president of Sylvane.com
Hong offers the following tips for creating a healthy home environment that’s mold and mildew free:
— Recognize Visible Mold — Mold grows in damp, dark environments. Commonly found in bathrooms and basements, it’s usually slimy or fuzzy in appearance, and its color may be green, black, orange, or purple.
— Be Aware of Hidden Mold — Mold can grow behind walls and wallpaper, above ceiling tiles, and under sinks. If you notice a musty odor in a particular room, it’s likely coming from hidden mold. You can check for mold with a Mold Test Kit.
— Clean Up Spills Immediately — If you have a spill, leak, or any kind of water damage in your home, clean and dry out the area immediately. Mold starts growing within 24-48 hours.
— Keep Indoor Humidity Low — Dehumidifiers keep the humidity low by removing excess moisture from the air. Keep your home’s relative humidity below 50% to prevent mold growth.
— Protect Your Basement — Basements are notorious for mold and mildew. Use a basement dehumidifier to prevent mold and mildew growth.
— Defend Your Crawlspace — Crawlspaces are dark and damp — ideal environments for mold. Place a plastic vapor barrier on open earth to reduce moisture. Many crawlspaces require a crawlspace dehumidifier to keep the mold at bay.
Cleaning Up Mold
— Carefully Clean Visible Mold — If you see visible mold growth, carefully clean it up with water and detergent. It’s impossible to completely remove mold from a porous surface such as drywall; this material will have to be removed and discarded.
— Protect Yourself While Cleaning — The Environmental Protection Agency recommends wearing an N-95 respirator mask, gloves, and goggles while cleaning mold. Black mold or toxic mold (usually found in buildings with severe water damage) produces dangerous toxins that can cause neurological symptoms and even death. If you encounter extensive mold growth, or if you suspect that it may be toxic mold, contact a mold remediation professional.
“Indoor mold is a major cause of sinus infections, allergies, and asthma attacks, not to mention structural damage to buildings,” says Hong. “But if you control your home’s humidity, then mold doesn’t stand a chance.”
Sylvane.com is a leading online supplier of dehumidifiers and other products for creating a healthy, safe and comfortable home environment.