Mold in the Home
The first thing to understand about mold is that there is a little mold everywhere - indoors and outdoors. It's in the air and can be found on plants, foods, dry leaves, and other organic materials.
It's very common to find molds in homes and buildings. After all, molds grow naturally indoors. And mold spores enter the home through doorways, windows, and heating and air conditioning systems. Spores also enter the home on animals, clothing, shoes, bags and people.
When mold spores drop where there is excessive moisture in your home, they will grow. Common problem sites include humidifiers, leaky roofs and pipes, overflowing sinks, bath tubs and plant pots, steam from cooking, wet clothes drying indoors, dryers exhausting indoors, or where there has been flooding.
Many of the building materials
for homes provide suitable nutrients for mold, helping it to grow. Such
materials include paper and paper products, cardboard, ceiling tiles,
wood, and wood products, dust, paints, wallpaper, insulation materials,
drywall, carpet, fabric, and upholstery.
Exposure to mold
Everyone is exposed to some amount of mold on a daily basis, most without any apparent reaction. Generally mold spores can cause problems when they are present in large numbers and a person inhales large quantities of them. This occurs primarily when there is active mold growth.
For some people, a small
exposure to mold spores can trigger an asthma attack or lead to other
health problems. For others, symptoms may only occur when exposure levels
are much higher.
Should I be concerned about mold in my home?
Yes. If indoor mold is extensive, those in your home can be exposed to very high and persistent airborne mold spores. It is possible to become sensitized to these mold spores and develop allergies or other health concerns, even if one is not normally sensitive to mold.
Left unchecked, mold growth can cause structural damage to your home as well as permanent damage to furnishings and carpet.
According to the Centers for
Disease Control*, "It is not necessary, however, to determine what type of
mold you may have. All molds should be treated the same with respect to
potential health risks and removal."
Can my home be tested for mold?
Yes. An indoor air sample can be taken as well as an outdoor sample to determine whether the number of spores inside your home is significantly higher. If the indoor level is higher, it could mean that mold is growing inside your home. Reliable air sampling can be expensive, time consuming, and requires special equipment and a qualified technician.
If you can see or smell mold,
then you should take steps to clean-up the mold. Mold growth is likely to
continue unless the source of moisture is removed and the contamination is
How do I remove mold from my home?
First address the source of moisture that is allowing the mold to grow. Then take steps to clean-up the contamination. Here are helpful links to lean more about cleaning-up mold in your home.
- A Brief Guide to Mold, Moisture, and Your Home - Environmental Protection Agency
- Flood Information - FEMA
- Controlling Mold Growth in the Home - Kansas State University
*Sources: California Department of Health Services Indoor Air Quality Info Sheet, "Mold in My Home: What Do I Do?" Updated July 2012; Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, "Questions and Answers on Stachybotrys chartarum and other molds" Last reviewed July 13, 2009.