Mold is a fungus that is found everywhere – both indoors and outdoors all year round. Concern about indoor exposure to mold has increased along with public awareness that exposure to mold can cause a variety of adverse health effects. There are many thousands of species of mold and most if not all of the mold found indoors comes from outdoor sources. It seems likely to grow and become a problem only when there is water damage, high humidity, or dampness.
Mold produces and releases millions of spores small enough to be air-, water-, or insect-borne. It can also produce toxic agents known as mycotoxins. Spores and myco toxins can have negative effects on human health. People who are affected by mold exposures there can be a wide variation in how they react. People at greatest risk of health effects are individuals with allergies, asthma, sinusitis, or other respiratory conditions, as well as infants and children, elderly people, and pregnant women.
Some common household molds are, Cladosporium, Penicillium, Alternaria and Aspergillus.
Where are molds found?
Molds are found in almost every environment and can be detected, indoors and outdoors, year round. Mold growth is stimulated by warm and humid conditions. Outdoors they can be found in shady, damp areas or places where leaves or other vegetation is decomposing. Indoors they can be found where humidity levels are high, such as basements or showers.
How can people decrease mold exposure?
Sensitive individuals should avoid areas that are likely to have mold, such as compost piles, cut grass, and wooded areas. Inside homes, mold growth can be slowed by controlling humidity levels and ventilating showers and cooking areas. If there is mold growth in your home, you should clean up the mold and fix the water problem. Mold growth can be removed from hard surfaces with commercial products, soap and water, or a bleach solution of no more than 1 cup of household laundry bleach in 1 gallon of water.
If you choose to use bleach to clean up mold:
Never mix bleach with ammonia or other household cleaners. Mixing bleach with ammonia or other cleaning products will produce dangerous, toxic fumes.
Open windows and doors to provide fresh air.
Wear rubber boots, rubber gloves, and goggles during cleanup of affected area.