Mold Questions, Answers, and Facts (cont.)
Actions that will help to reduce
- Vent appliances that produce moisture, such as
clothes dryers, stoves, and kerosene heaters to the outside where possible.
(Combustion appliances such as stoves and kerosene heaters produce water vapor
and will increase the humidity unless vented to the outside.)
- Use air conditioners and/or de-humidifiers when
- Run the bathroom fan or open the window when
showering. Use exhaust fans or open windows whenever cooking, running the
dishwasher or dish washing, etc.
Actions that will help prevent condensation:
- Reduce the humidity (see above).
- Increase ventilation or air movement by opening doors
and/or windows, when practical. Use fans as needed.
- Cover cold surfaces, such as cold water pipes, with
- Increase air temperature.
Testing or Sampling for Mold
Is sampling for mold needed? In most cases, if
visible mold growth is present, sampling is unnecessary. Since no EPA or other federal limits have been set for mold
or mold spores, sampling cannot be used to check a building's compliance with
federal mold standards. Surface sampling may be useful to determine if an area
has been adequately cleaned or remediated. Sampling for mold should be conducted
by professionals who have specific experience in designing mold sampling
protocols, sampling methods, and interpreting results. Sample analysis should
follow analytical methods recommended by the American Industrial Hygiene
Association (AIHA), the American
Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH), or other professional
Suspicion of hidden mold
suspect hidden mold if a building smells moldy, but you cannot see the source,
or if you know there has been water damage and residents are reporting health
problems. Mold may be hidden in places such as the back side of dry wall,
wallpaper, or paneling, the top side of ceiling tiles, the underside of carpets
and pads, etc. Other possible locations of hidden mold include areas inside
walls around pipes (with leaking or condensing pipes), the surface of walls
behind furniture (where condensation forms), inside duct work, and in roof materials above ceiling tiles
(due to roof leaks or insufficient insulation).
Investigating hidden mold problems
Investigating hidden mold problems may be
difficult and will require caution when the investigation involves disturbing
potential sites of mold growth. For example, removal of wallpaper can lead to a
massive release of spores if there is mold growing on the underside of the
paper. If you believe that you may have a hidden mold problem, consider hiring
an experienced professional.
Cleanup and Biocides
Biocides are substances that can destroy living
organisms. The use of a chemical or biocide that kills organisms such as mold
(chlorine bleach, for example) is not recommended as a routine practice during
mold cleanup. There may be instances, however, when professional judgment may
indicate its use (for example, when immune-compromised individuals are present).
In most cases, it is not possible or desirable to sterilize an area; a
background level of mold spores will remain - these spores will not grow if the
moisture problem has been resolved. If you choose to use disinfectants or
biocides, always ventilate the area and exhaust the air to the outdoors. Never
mix chlorine bleach solution with other cleaning solutions or detergents that
contain ammonia because toxic fumes could be produced.
Please note: Dead mold may still cause allergic reactions in some people, so
it is not enough to simply kill the mold, it must also be removed.
Last Editorial Review: 1/27/2005
Source: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (www.epa.gov)