Tackling mold growth in your home
Above photo credit: Environmental Protection Agency
By CANDACE TUCKER, UGA Extension Coweta County
On average, people spend approximately 90 percent of their time indoors, where the concentrations of some pollutants are often 2 to 5 times higher than typical outdoor concentrations. Mold is just one of those pollutants that can contribute to poor indoor air quality. Molds are nature’s recycler, so they are everywhere, and there are hundreds of species. Mold is in the air and on many different surfaces. It only becomes a problem for us when colonies grow in places like our homes.
Mold needs 2 conditions to grow – moisture and organic matter. Our homes are full of organic matter. Therefore, the only condition that we can reasonably control is moisture. Fortunately, not all mold is toxic, but in certain conditions, some types of mold can produce toxins called mycotoxins. Black mold gets a lot of attention and is often labeled as toxic. However, just because the mold in your house looks black, does not mean you have a toxigenic mold. A good rule of thumb is to treat all molds the same with respect to potential health risks and removal.
You can often smell mold before you see it. If your home has a musty or mildew smell, start looking for the mold. It often grows in the bathroom, kitchen, laundry room, basement or crawl space. Once discovered, if the moldy area is less than about 10 square feet, in most cases, you can handle the clean-up job yourself. If you have an extensive amount of mold, you may want to contact a professional who has experience in cleaning mold in buildings and homes.
Always remember that the key to mold control is moisture control. If there is mold growth in your home, you must clean-up the mold and fix the water/moisture problem. If you clean-up the mold but do not fix the water/moisture problem, most likely, the mold problem will come back. This is done in a variety of ways, but the most important measures you can take to prevent excess moisture from getting in your home is by keeping it ventilated, properly maintained and repairing any leaks.
For more information on mold prevention and remediation, visit these websites:
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – cdc.gov/mold
- Environmental Protection Agency – epa.gov/mold
- Indoor Air Quality Association – iaqa.org
- Institute of Inspection Cleaning & Restoration Certification – iicrc.org
- Restoration Industry Association – restorationindustry.org
- UGA Extension – fcs.uga.edu/extension/mold-safety
Candace Tucker is the Family and Consumer Sciences (FACS) Agent for University of Georgia (UGA) Cooperative Extension Coweta County. Her role involves providing Coweta residents unbiased, research-based information on health, nutrition, financial management, home safety and family relationships through educational programs and community outreach.