Mold problems can strike any home in any climate. Household mold poses a serious health hazard, especially for children, the elderly and those with compromised immune systems. That’s why it’s important for renters and homeowners to be aware of mold risks, how to test for mold, and how to safely remove mold once it’s found.
Why Worry about Mold?
Mold is a broad term for certain kinds of fungi that grow in damp places. In closed, humid environments, mold thrives and quickly spreads. As it grows, mold releases millions of tiny spores into the air, and these spores can be harmful if breathed in. While no mold is deemed safe, over 30 identified species of indoor mold are identified as toxic, wreaking havoc on the body’s cells—especially in the lungs, throat and sinuses.
Mold exposure has been linked to asthma, allergic reactions, nervous-system disorders, and chronic sinusitis. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), mold exposure can also lead to skin, throat and eye irritation, and it can interfere with the body’s ability to fight off diseases. For sensitive individuals, even small amounts of mold exposure can trigger serious health problems, sometimes requiring hospitalization.
Causes and Signs of Mold
Widespread mold problems make headlines in hurricane-prone areas, but they can strike in drier regions, too. Common causes of mold include sewage backup, cracked or broken water pipes, flood damage, water damage from a leaky roof, and poor ventilation in bathrooms, laundry rooms and basements
Sometimes mold is easy to spot. Usually, however, mold lurks in hard-to-see places such as behind drywall, in the seams of cabinets, or under the fridge. Common signs of mold in the home include:
- The appearance of dark green, blue or black spots, especially around vents, on walls, in cabinets and on curtains
- Sudden unexplained onset of asthma or other respiratory distress symptoms
- A damp, musty smell in the home
- Obvious signs of water damage, especially on the walls and floors
A mold test is required to determine if toxic mold is present in a home. Until recently, do-it-yourself mold test kits needed to be sent to a lab (often requiring an extra fee), and results were not available for weeks. Fortunately, a new mold test called 5-Minute Mold Test Kit from Healthful Home displays results in minutes.
Using a small sample of household dust from the floor, cabinet or other surface, this test kit can detect the presence of over 32 different types of harmful mold spores including black molds (while ignoring harmless molds like mildew). The 5-Minute Mold Test Kit is the only fast-acting DIY mold test kit on the market, and it has been licensed by the CDC. The kit lists for $44.99.
How to Treat Mold
After harmful mold has been detected, it’s possible to clean up many mold problems without the help of a professional. For localized mold issues, Healthful Home’s eco-friendly Mold and Bacteria Cleaner starts killing mold right away, and the mold-fighting effects can last for up to 6 months. It’s odorless, safe to use around children and pets, and 100% biodegradable. The product lists for $21.99.
For a more widespread mold problem, the Fog-U Mold is a fast and extremely effective way to treat an entire room. Like the Mold and Bacteria Cleaner, it contains the same all-natural ingredients and keeps working for months. It’s ideal for hard-to-reach places like crawl spaces and ventilation systems, and it even treats carpets and upholstery. The product lists for $21.99. All Healthful Home products can be found exclusively at Ace Hardware. For more information, visit www.myhealthfulhome.com.
Once mold is identified, don’t forget that it is important to fix the source of the problem–whether it’s a poorly ventilated laundry room or bad water damage. Once the problem is fixed, improve air circulation and reduce indoor humidity to make sure the mold doesn’t have a chance to come back.