Mold is an omnipresent fact of life. This basic organism does a lot of good, from breaking down and decomposing organic matter to helping provide us with antibiotics and an array of foods. As with anything though, there is such a thing as too much of a good thing. Mold can also have serious health consequences, particularly when it flourishes indoors. Here are the top five tips about mold, how to deal with it, and how to prevent it from becoming a problem in the first place.
Top Five Tips About Mold
Cleaning Mold Can Be Dangerous
When it comes to cleaning mold, most people reach right for the bleach. But using bleach to clean mold is not only sometimes ineffective, but it can also cause additional problems for allergy sufferers. Bleach may be used on non-porous surfaces - but it doesn't always kill mold; in fact, it may simply whiten it, causing you to think the mold is gone even while it's still there, continuing to propagate. Bleach used on wood or other porous surfaces is ineffective because it cannot penetrate deep into to material to kill the mold spores within it. In addition, bleach creates harsh fumes and a caustic residue that are harmful, especially for allergy sufferers who are more susceptible to respiratory and dermatological reactions.
So how do you clean mold? The first thing to keep in mind is how to protect yourself: cleaning any allergen - whether it's dust, mold, pollen, or anything else - stirs it into the air, making it airborne, and making it more likely that you will inhale it. An Austin Air air purifier equipped with HEPA filters goes a long way in reducing the amount of mold spores circulating in your indoor air. Wear gloves and an allergy mask like the 3M 8293 Mask or the 3M HEPA Mask, both of which feature HEPA filtration to keep you from breathing in mold spores.
Secondly, use a cleaner that is specifically designed to eliminate mold, such as Vital Oxide Mold Remover and Disinfectant, Allersearch AllerMold, or MoldZyme Mold and Mildew Remover. Follow up with a sealant that prevents mold formation. We recommend M-1 Sure Cote Mold and Mildew Resistant Sealant.
Dehumidifiers Prevent Mold Problems From Occurring.
As we all know, mold requires moisture to survive - and environments that are too humid provide ideal conditions for mold growth. During the winter, even as forced air heating systems generally make the air dry, mold thrives in areas of the home that experience excess moisture levels. The problem is exacerbated by the fact that ventilation is rare because of cold temperatures. Watch for mold in places like closets that are near a bathroom (such as in a master bedroom suite), bathrooms, shower stalls, and in the kitchen near the stove where steam gathers, or by windows that collect steam.
Using dehumidifiers in areas that are prone to concentrated moisture levels is an excellent way to prevent the formation of mold. For most rooms or when moisture levels rise throughout the home environment - such as during the summer in humid climates - invest in a full-size dehumidifier like a Danby dehumidifier or a Soleus dehumidifier.
In order to lessen the chance of mold formation, humidity levels should be kept between 40 to 50 percent. Many dehumidifiers have built in humidity gauges, or you can use a high quality hygrometer to measure humidity levels yourself.
Mold Allergies + Asthma = Bad Combination.
Mold is a potent allergy trigger that is also known to induce asthma attacks. Mold can even lead to the development of asthma: a Mayo Clinic article states, Kids' asthma risk more than doubles if their homes smell of mold. Conversely, when mold is removed from the indoor environment, asthma symptoms are likely to improve, as this Science Daily article discusses.
HEPA Air Purifiers Trap Mold Spores.
Purifying your air is another effective way to protect yourself from inhaling mold. HEPA filters capture mold spores before they reach the air that you breathe. Air purifiers equipped with HEPA filters go a long way in reducing the amount of mold spores circulating in your indoor air. Blueair Air Purifiers offer HEPASilent technology, which allows for ultra quiet air purification; Austin Air Air Purifiers offer medical-grade HEPA filtration in an assortment of sizes and colors; AirPura Air Purifiers boast the highest carbon levels in the industry for added protection from chemical fumes and absorption of offensive odors; andHoneywell Air Purifiers offer HEPA air purification at very affordable price points.
But air purifiers are not the only appliances that use HEPA filtration to clean the air of offending allergens. HEPA vacuum cleaners not only pick up mold spores from the areas that are vacuumed, but they also clean the air that circulates through the vacuum, trapping mold spores and other allergens in its internal HEPA filter.
It's also crucial that allergy sufferers change their furnace filters regularly in order to keep a handle on ambient mold. The 3M Ultra Furnace Filter is over 93% effective at capturing airborne particles, including mold.
What You Don't See Can Hurt You
Just because you don't see any visible mold in your household doesn't mean it isn't there - and doesn't mean it's not contributing to your total allergen load. Mold often lurks in places that aren't often seen, such as under sinks or in old basement ceiling tiles. Many times you can smell mold before you can see it. This is why it's important to look for clues about where mold might form. For instance, if your dish-washing routine leaves an over-the-sink window steamy, check any wooden molding around the window for signs of deterioration. Better yet, try to ventilate by opening the window a crack while you're doing dishes. Using bleach to clean mold may also lead to invisible mold problems; bleach may whiten mold, causing it to apparently disappear while spores still linger and make their way into your indoor air.
Outdoor mold is also insidious, especially during wintertime. The Mayo Clinic advises those with mold sensitivities to sleep with windows closed to keep out outdoor mold, to wear an allergy relief mask while raking leaves, and to stay indoors altogether after a rainstorm or in foggy or otherwise damp weather.
These tips will both help prevent mold problems from happening and help remedy them when they do occur. Obviously, those with known allergies to mold must take precautions against exposure to mold spores; however, those with any kind of allergies should be cautious as well - one never knows when a new allergen will trigger an allergy attack.
If you found these top five tips about mold useful, you can find more in-depth information from any one of these resources.