While mold spores can never be eliminated from the indoor environment, the way to control indoor mold is to control moisture.
Follow these tips:
- Be sure your home has adequate ventilation. Use exhaust fans in the kitchen and bathroom that vent outside your home. Also make sure that the clothes dryer vents outside your home.
- Clean up molds when you find them and eliminate the related sources of moisture. Use safe enzyme based cleaning products.
- Fix any leaks in roofs, walls, or plumbing in your home to eliminate a source of moisture for mold.
- Keep the humidity level in your home between 40 percent and 60 percent. Use an air conditioner or a dehumidifier during humid months and in damp spaces, such as basements.
- Make every attempt to clean up and dry out your home thoroughly and quickly (within 24 to 48 hours) after any type of flooding.
- Periodically clean bathrooms with mold-killing products, being careful to avoid skin contact or inhalation.
- Remove and replace carpets and upholstery that have been soaked and cannot be dried promptly. Avoid using carpet in rooms that tend to be moist, such as bathrooms or basements.
- Replace absorbent materials such as carpeting, ceiling tiles, and Sheetrock if they become moldy and can’t be thoroughly cleaned.
In areas receiving a lot of rain, basements can flood from the hydrostatic pressure of underground streams. The best solution for this appears to be installing French drains around the foundation. French drains let water in but channel it into a pit, where a pump removes it from the basement and pumps it out and away from the structure. A natural but often impractical solution to a leaky basement is to plant a willow tree near the house where the basement leaks. The willow tree’s demand for water decreases the hydrostatic pressure.
Mold problems in public buildings such as schools can sometimes be attributed to construction practices employed for energy efficiency. These buildings are tightly sealed in an attempt to maximize the efficiency of heating and cooling systems. Poor ventilation impedes moisture from escaping, causing mold growth and creating what has come to be known as ‘sick building syndrome.’
People working in these buildings are not only exposed to molds, they’re also exposed to chemicals that outgas from modern building materials. Be aware of the likelihood of mold in public buildings. If you or your children spend a lot of time in them, ask questions of the people responsible for construction decisions and be persistent until you get solid answers.
If you’re wondering about mold affecting you in your home, office, or even your gym or yoga studio, ask a doctor to test your blood for antibodies to common indoor molds. Also test the air in your home and urge that testing be performed in any public buildings that you frequent. Although home testing kits can provide meaningful data to start, using a professional environmental home inspection company to analyze whether a mold problem exists is more thorough.
Not all members of a household will have obvious symptoms from mold exposures. Those with a genetically predisposed sensitivity, or other significant sources of chronic stress, may become symptomatic while other members of their family remain healthy. Sensitive individuals warn of potentially hazardous exposures for all.