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MOLD

Molds are part of the natural environment.  Outdoors, molds play a part in nature by breaking down dead organic matter such as fallen leaves and dead trees, but indoors, mold growth should be avoided.  Molds reproduce by means of tiny spores; the spores are invisible to the naked eye and float through outdoor and indoor air.  Mold may begin growing indoors when mold spores land on surfaces that are wet.  There are many types of mold, and none of them will grow without water or moisture.

Molds are usually not a problem indoors, unless mold spores land on a wet or damp spot and begin growing.  Molds have the potential to cause health problems.  Molds produce allergens (substances that can cause allergic reactions), irritants, and in some cases, potentially toxic substances (mycotoxins).  Inhaling or touching mold or mold spores may cause allergic reactions in sensitive individuals.  Allergic responses include hay fever-type symptoms, such as sneezing, runny nose, red eyes, and skin rash (dermatitis).  Allergic reactions to mold are common.  They can be immediate or delayed.  Molds can also cause asthma attacks in people with asthma who are allergic to mold.  In addition, mold exposure can irritate the eyes, skin, nose, throat, and lungs of both mold-allergic and non-allergic people.  Symptoms other than the allergic and irritant types are not commonly reported as a result of inhaling mold.  Research on mold and health effects is ongoing.  This brochure provides a brief overview; it does not describe all potential health effects related to mold exposure.  For more detailed information consult a health professional.  You may also wish to consult your state or local health department.

It is impossible to get rid of all mold and mold spores indoors; some mold spores will be found floating through the air and in house dust.  The mold spores will not grow if moisture is not present.  Indoor mold growth can and should be prevented or controlled by controlling moisture indoors.  If there is mold growth in your home, you must clean up the mold and fix the water problem.  If you clean up the mold, but don't fix the water problem, then, most likely, the mold problem will come back.

(Source : EPA - A Brief Guide to Mold, Moisture, and Your Home)

Most people with environmental illness are sensitive to mold.  In most cases, exposure to mold will make you more environmentally sensitive.  Here are some tips for controlling mold in your home environment:

ENTIRE HOUSE

·  Keep humidity low, 35% if possible, but in no case over 50%.  Use a humidity gauge to monitor relative humidity.
· Use an air conditioner or dehumidifier in times of high humidity with the windows closed.  Dehumidifiers must be emptied of water regularly or connected to a constant drain.  Special air conditioner filters can be added to help trap the airborne allergens and room air cleaner can help clear the air of mold spores.
· Very tightly insulated houses prevent the escape of moisture and thus encourage mold growth.  Allow adequate ventilation. 
· If using a humidifier in the winter, avoid over humidification.  If mold is present, rinse the interior of the unit with a diluted bleach solution.  Some humidifiers prevent mold growth by a special heating process.  Central humidifiers should be checked and cleaned frequently.
· Clean walls and ceilings and add mold inhibitor to paint before applying.
·  Window condensation can lead to moisture and mold growth on the window frame.
· Although indoor plants are not a major source of indoor mold spores, it is prudent to limit the number of houseplants.
·  Mold is present on the bark of wood.  If using a fireplace or wood burning stove, do not store firewood inside.  Avoid live Christmas trees.

BEDROOM

·  Follow steps to decrease dust exposure.  Ideally, carpeting should be removed and mattresses encased in allergen-impermeable zippered covers.  
·  Avoid foam rubber pillows and mattresses since they are particularly likely to become moldy.
·  A dehumidifier or air-conditioner can help reduce humidity.
· Mold grows in closets that are damp and dark.  Dry shoes and boots thoroughly before storing.  Use a chemical moisture remover in closets and storage spaces to help prevent mold growth. 
· Good quality HEPA air cleaners or an Ionizer can remove mold spores from the air.
· Convection heat units can make mold spores nonviable and help reduce the spread of mildew.

BASEMENT

· Carpet and pad should not be laid on a concrete floor.  Vinyl flooring is a better choice.
· Correct seepage or flooding problems and remove any previously flooded carpet.  If a dirt floor is present, cover with a plastic vapor barrier
· Keep the basement free of dust and remove moldy stored items.
· Add a paint mold inhibiter to paint, especially on brick or cinderblock walls
· Allergic individuals should not have their bedroom on the basement level.

BATHROOM

· Use an exhaust fan or open window to remove humidity after showering.  Use a squeegee to remove excess water from shower stall, tub and tiles 
· Wash shower curtain, bathroom tiles, shower stall, tub, toilet tank and tiles with mold-killing and mold-preventing solutions.
· Do not carpet the bathroom.

OUTSIDE

· Avoid cutting grass and raking leaves or use a well fitting facemask if the allergic individual must do these chores.  Avoid exposure to soil, compost piles, sandboxes, hay, fertilizers and barns.  Prune or cut trees to avoid shading of the home.  Eliminate vines. 
· Correct drainage problems near the house as pooled water greatly increases mold formation.
· Avoid camping or walking in the woods where mold growth on rotted logs and other vegetation is high.  Some mold spores are spread on dry and windy days, others at times of rainfall.

KITCHEN

·     Use an exhaust fan to remove water vapor when cooking. 
·       Mold can grow in refrigerators, particularly around door gaskets.  Empty water pans below self-defrosting refrigerators frequently. 
· Remove spoiling foods immediately.  
·     Molds grow in garbage containers.  These should be emptied frequently and kept clean.

WORK & OTHER ENVIRONMENTS
          

· Greenhouses, antique shops, saunas, sleeping bags, summer cottages and hotel rooms are sources of increased mold exposure. 
· Automobile air conditioners may harbor mold. 
· Occupational exposure to mold occurs in farmers, gardeners, bakers, brewers, florists, carpenters, mill workers, upholsterers and paperhangers.  Your physician can offer specific recommendations

LAUNDRY ROOM

·         Vent the clothes dryer to the outdoors—not under the house.  Dry clothing immediately after washing.

 

Dissclaimer:  Mold Control is a complex issue and the information in this document has been simplified to educate the reader, but it is not a substitute for medical, legal or other professional advice.