Here at Healthy Homes, we have a small, but mighty volunteer force. And, possibly no volunteer is more known around the offices as a go-to helper than Alex Markham. She has been a very regular giver of time, talent, and passion over the past three years, and we are thankful to have her as part of the team.
In Case of Emergency
If someone is having negative health effects from mold exposure, contact their primary health care provider. The doctor may recommend consultation with an allergy, asthma, or infectious disease specialist for additional information and treatment.
Mold & Moisture
Mold can cause health problems and trigger allergies and asthma attacks. With adequate moisture, mold can grow anywhere in the home. It can also be controlled, making the air easier for all to breathe.
What is Mold?
Molds are living organisms that grow and thrive in damp places both outside and inside the home. Mold causes cosmetic and structural damage to the home by discoloring walls and floors and rotting wood supports. It also makes the home smell damp and musty. There are hundreds of different kinds of mold.
Mold can grow anywhere it has adequate moisture, including walls, ceilings, carpets, furniture, and concrete. It also needs cellulose to grow. Cellulose is plant matter and is found in wood, drywall, many fabrics, and even in household dust. Mold is often found in areas that have been flooded, areas with leaky pipes, or areas with high relative humidity like bathrooms and damp basements.
Who is at Risk?
The primary concern with molds are respiratory. Mold is a serious a trigger for those with asthma and allergies. People with weakened immune systems, such as children, the elderly, and those recovering from surgery, may be more vulnerable to health effects from molds.
Symptoms of mold in the home are often the same as other upper respiratory issues. These symptoms include sneezing, runny or stuffy nose, cough or postnasal drip, itchy nose, eyes or throat and watery eyes.
Symptoms can vary from person to person and can change seasonally, usually when the weather is damp or the humidity rises.
People's reaction to mold varies. Those with asthma and allergies are most negatively impacted. Mold can be responsible for triggering asthma attacks in children and adults, possibly sending them to the hospital for treatment.
When mold becomes a problem in the home, the existing mold needs to be addressed. But first, the moisture causing the problem needs to be eliminated.
Eliminate The Source
The first step in fixing a mold problem is eliminating the source of the moisture. If the moisture is coming from faulty building materials like pipes, walls, and the roof, the problem should be fixed by a licensed professional to ensure it does not come back.
If the moisture problem does not appear to be caused by any leaks or structural issues, the problem is most likely due to moisture in the air and condensation. This can be addressed with ventilation or dehumidification. Have a professional assess your home's ventilation to make sure it is working correctly. To address humidity, use a dehumidifier to remove the moisture from the air. High moisture areas like the kitchen, bathroom, and laundry room should have fans that can move moist air to the outside. Humidity levels above 60% are considered high-risk for mold.
Remove Existing Mold
Once the moisture problem has been addressed, the existing mold can be removed. The EPA suggests that if the area is less than 10 square feet, it is a job you can do yourself. Click here to download a helpful pamphlet on mold cleanup from the EPA.
Hard, non-porous surfaces can be cleaned with soap and water and dried immediately. Any porous or absorbent surface that is affected by mold should be removed and replaced, such as moldy drywall or furniture.
A professional who has extensive experience and references should deal with areas larger than 10 square feet.
Did You Know...
Dehumidifiers help reduce mold growth.
This fall, Healthy Homes is starting a new lead education program to help any local family who wants to learn more about lead, and how to manage lead hazards in their home.
Hugo Claudin is the newest full-time staff member in the Healthy Homes direct services department. He will be working directly with families struggling with environmental hazards in their homes, visiting them, making action plans for them, and building relationships with them. Hugo brings a unique perspective and experience to this position. Before coming here, he previously worked for Spectrum Health, LINC, and The Red Project, all in a community health capacity. He is also a well-known artist and musician, and an all-around interesting guy.