Mold Exposure

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Mold facts

  • Mold may live indoors or outdoors and thrives in damp, warm, and humid environments.
  • Although shower stalls and basements are typical moist areas prone to the growth of molds, any moist area in the home may harbor mold.
  • Allergic reactions to mold are the most common health effects of mold.
  • The best way to prevent mold in the home is the control of moisture.
  • There are no EPA or government standards that have been established for mold or mold spore levels, so it is impossible to prove that a building or room is in compliance with any regulations concerning mold exposure.

What is mold?

Molds are various types of fungi that grow in filaments and reproduce by forming spores. The term "mildew" is sometimes used to refer to some kinds of mold, particularly mold in the household with a white or grayish color or mold growing in shower stalls and bathrooms. Mold may grow indoors or outdoors and thrives in damp, warm, and humid environments. Mold can be found in essentially any environment or season.

The most common types of household mold that are found indoors include Cladosporium, Penicillium, Alternaria, and Aspergillus. Stachybotrys chartarum (also known as Stachybotrys atra and sometimes referred to as "black mold") is a greenish-black mold that can also be found indoors. Stachybotrys grows on household surfaces that have high cellulose content, such as wood, fiberboard, gypsum board, paper, dust, and lint. There are types of mold that can grow on substances as different as foods and carpet.

Molds reproduce by forming tiny spores that are not visible to the naked eye. Mold spores are very hardy and can survive under conditions in which mold cannot grow, such as in dry and harsh environments. These spores travel through outdoor and indoor air. When the mold spores land on a surface where moisture is present, mold can then start to grow.

Outdoors, molds play a role in the decomposition of organic matter such as dead trees, compost, and leaves. They are most common in damp, dark areas or areas of decomposing plant life. Indoors, mold is often found in basements or shower stalls. Indoor mold has the potential to cause health problems and can destroy surfaces and objects where it grows.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 8/20/2012

Patient Comments

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Mold - Describe Your Experience Question: Please describe your experience with mold.
Mold - Were Can it be Found? Question: Describe where in your home mold was discovered.
Mold - Prevention Question: How do you try to prevent mold in your home?
Mold - Cleaning Up Question: Please provide tips for cleaning up or eliminating mold.

Mold Removal and Cleanup

Tips and techniques

The tips and techniques presented in this section will help you clean up your mold problem. Professional cleaners or remediators may use methods not covered in this publication. Please note that mold may cause staining and cosmetic damage. It may not be possible to clean an item so that its original appearance is restored.

  • Fix plumbing leaks and other water problems as soon as possible. Dry all items completely.
  • Scrub mold off hard surfaces with detergent and water, and dry completely.
  • Absorbent or porous materials, such as ceiling tiles and carpet, may have to be thrown away if they become moldy. Mold can grow on or fill in the empty spaces and crevices of porous materials, so the mold may be difficult or impossible to remove completely.

SOURCE:

United States Environmental Protection Agency


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