Do you have recurring allergies and respiratory problems? Are you always coughing and sneezing? Then you might have mold in your house or at work. Some molds contain mycotoxins that may trigger allergic reactions and make you sick. These microorganisms are found virtually everywhere, so there’s no way to avoid them completely. However, you can prevent and reduce mold exposure by controlling moisture and keeping your house clean.
What Are the Dangers of Mold Exposure?
Studies indicate that all molds have a negative impact on health. Some cause headaches and compromised immune systems, while others can worsen asthma symptoms and affect lung function. These microorganisms can grow on any organic substance as long as oxygen and water are present. In general, mold exposure occurs when excessive moisture builds up in the walls, behind furniture, or under carpets. Controlling moisture indoors is the single most effective way to prevent mold growth.
Extensive mold contamination can lead to death. These tiny creatures reproduce by making spores. When you breathe in or swallow these spores, they enter your body and produce allergens. If you have molds in your house, it’s essential to address moisture problems, such as water damage, leaks, and some appliances. The existing mold should be carefully removed in order to avoid its spores from becoming airborne.
How to Prevent Mold Growth
Mold growth requires three things: a warm temperature, moisture, and a food source like wood, leaves, insulation materials, or paper. Most buildings have at least one area that may cause mold problems, such as plumbing leaks, humidifiers, damp basements, ice dams, leaky roofs, or stoves. Exposure can occur through skin contact, inhalation, or ingestion, leading to asthma attacks, shortness of breath, watery eyes, dry cough, wheezing, and skin irritation. Some molds are more hazardous than others.
There are several things you can do to minimize mold growth, such as keeping moisture in your home below 40 percent and cleaning the inside of your refrigerator every few months with baking soda. Check your house for wet spots and leaks, increase air circulation, and keep the windows open most of the time. Clean any wet areas within 48 hours. If you have air conditioning at home, perform regular HVAC inspections.
Mold Remediation Tips
Mold remediation depends on the source of moisture as well as on size of the affected area. It’s essential to identify mold-contaminated materials and discard those that can not be thoroughly cleaned. Stop using the HVAC system if you suspect it’s contaminated with mold. Check the building for hidden mold and take samples if needed. Make sure you wear personal protective equipment to avoid mold exposure.
Regardless of how you’re planning to remove mold, don’t forget to address the source of moisture. This is the most important step. Fix the moisture problem, clean up the affected areas, and remove all contaminated items. If you decide to use biocides or disinfectants, ventilate the room before, during, and after cleaning. These products may release toxic fumes, so it’s important to keep the air circulating in the affected area.
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