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Mold Exposure

What are molds and where can they be found?

  • Molds are fungi that can be found both indoors and outdoors.
  • There are thousands of different species of mold.
  • Molds grow best in warm, damp, and humid conditions, and spread and reproduce by making spores.
  • Indoors they can be found where humidity levels are high, such as basements or showers.
  • Mold spores can survive harsh environmental conditions, such as dry conditions, that do not support normal mold growth.

How do molds affect people?

  • Some people are sensitive to molds.
  • Potential health effects and symptoms associated with mold exposures include allergic reactions, asthma, and other respiratory complaints.
  • Symptoms include nasal stuffiness, eye irritation, wheezing, or skin irritation.
  • Some people, such as those with serious allergies to molds, may have more severe reactions. Severe reactions may include fever and shortness of breath.
  • Exposure to the mold Stachybotrys atra has been associated with the development of acute idiopathic pulmonary hemorrhage (AIPH) in young infants.
  • This association is based upon only a few studies, however, and a causative link has not been demonstrated.
  • In a recent report, the American Academy of Pediatrics concluded that there is some evidence that this association is possible.

What can I do to prevent mold exposure in my home?

  • There is no practical way to eliminate all mold and mold spores in the indoor environment; the way to control indoor mold growth is to control moisture.
  • Fix the source of the water problem or leak to prevent mold growth.
  • Reduce indoor humidity (to 30-60% ) to decrease mold growth by: venting bathrooms, dryers, and other moisture-generating sources to the outside; using air conditioners and de-humidifiers; increasing ventilation; and using exhaust fans whenever cooking, dishwashing, and cleaning.
  • Clean and dry any damp or wet building materials and furnishings within 24-48 hours to prevent mold growth.
  • Clean mold off hard surfaces with water and detergent, and dry completely. Absorbent materials such as ceiling tiles, that are moldy, may need to be replaced.
  • Prevent condensation: Reduce the potential for condensation on cold surfaces (i.e., windows, piping, exterior walls, roof, or floors) by adding insulation.
  • In areas where there is a perpetual moisture problem, do not install carpeting (i.e., by drinking fountains, by classroom sinks, or on concrete floors with leaks or frequent condensation).
  • For more information about Mold and your health, go to http://www.cdc.gov/mold/