Mold: Cleaning your Home
Our goal for 2021 is to increase the amount of education and educational material we provide to our patients to benefit them in their daily lives. To accomplish this goal, we will be sending out educational information throughout the year without oversaturating your inbox.
Throughout this month we want to take some time to provide some education on topics that may be relevant to you! Today we wanted to educate you on Mold (Education and Eradication).
Mold. A word we are all familiar with and probably have a general sense that it’s not good, but what else do you know about it?
Here are some facts:
· Mold is everywhere. It grows rapidly especially in dark, cold, moist spaces such as basements and crawl spaces. Mold does have a vital role in the environment to decompose organic matter to make nutrients more readily available to other organisms, but the problem arises when mold grows in moist areas of your home.
· Not all Mold is dangerous.Like any other type of living organism, not all mold species are the same and many of them aren’t toxic at all. However, mold species that grow in your home (most common: Cladosporium, Aspergillus, Penicillium, Stachybotrys, and Alternaria) can be dangerous and cause a reaction of the immune system.
· Mold is Versatile. Mold thrives in moisture-prone areas, such as the bathroom or basement, but also in hidden areas like behind walls. Mold prefers organic or porous surfaces to grow on. While mold can’t grow on non-organic surfaces such as concrete, it may grow on dust or dirt layers on those surfaces.
· Mold spreads fast. In the right conditions, mold can grow in as fast as 24-48 hours after a water damage event. The perfect conditions for mold growth are a food source (organic material like drywall), moisture, and an ideal temperature of 77 °F – 88 °F. Thus, water damage remediation is critical to preventing mold growth after a flood.
· Mold is bold. Many people use bleach to get rid of mold in their home. The truth is that bleach kills live mold, but not mold spores. What’s more, removing mold with bleach and water can make mold regrow even faster. To remove a small-scale (less than 10 square feet) mold infestation, use a mix of household detergent and water.
· Mold and me.
o Some people are sensitive to molds. For these people, exposure to molds can lead to symptoms such as stuffy nose, wheezing, and red or itchy eyes, or skin. Some people, such as those with allergies to molds or with asthma, may have more intense reactions. Severe reactions may occur among workers exposed to large amounts of molds in occupational settings, such as farmers working around moldy hay. Severe reactions may include fever and shortness of breath.
o Other recent studies have suggested a potential link of early mold exposure to development of asthma in some children, particularly among children who may be genetically susceptible to asthma development, and that selected interventions that improve housing conditions can reduce morbidity from asthma and respiratory allergies.
o A link between other adverse health effects, such as acute idiopathic pulmonary hemorrhage among infants, memory loss, or lethargy, and molds, including the mold Stachybotrys chartarum has not been proven. Further studies are needed to find out what causes acute idiopathic hemorrhage and other adverse health effects.
o In 2004 the Institute of Medicine (IOM) found there was sufficient evidence to link indoor exposure to mold with upper respiratory tract symptoms, cough, and wheeze in otherwise healthy people; with asthma symptoms in people with asthma; and with hypersensitivity pneumonitis in individuals susceptible to that immune-mediated condition.
· Black Mold.
o Toxic black mold, or Stachybotrys chartarum, as it’s known to scientists, can release spores as it feeds on organic materials in common household materials like drywall, carpet, insulation or sub-flooring that have been exposed to moisture. These spores, if ingested or inhaled, can cause a range of unpleasant and even dangerous symptoms in humans.
o Symptoms associated with black mold exposure:
§ Chronic coughing and sneezing, irritation to the eyes, mucus membranes of the nose and throat, rashes, chronic fatigue and persistent headaches can all be symptomatic of black mold exposure or black mold poisoning.
o Can I get rid of black mold myself?
§ Yes but it is not recommended because you have to invest in protective gear (including a respirator), seal doorways or openings and there is a chance you won’t extract it all (including spores) so for your safety we recommend you hire professional help.
1. Inspect buildings for evidence of water damage and visible mold as part of routine building maintenance
2. Correct conditions causing mold growth (water leaks, condensation, infiltration, or flooding)
3. Inside your home you can control mold growth by:
a. Controlling humidity levels
i. Keep humidity levels as low as you can—between 30% and 50%–all day.
ii. An air conditioner or dehumidifier will help you keep the level low.
iii. Bear in mind that humidity levels change over the course of a day with changes in the
moisture in the air and the air temperature, so you will need to check the humidity
levels more than once a day.
b. Promptly fixing leaky roofs, windows and pipes
c. Thoroughly cleaning and drying after flooding
d. Ventilating showers, laundry and cooking areas
i. Be sure your home has enough ventilation.
ii. Use exhaust fans which vent outside your home in the kitchen and bathroom.
iii. Make sure your clothes dryer vents outside your home.
Consider not using carpet in rooms or areas like bathrooms or basements that may have a lot of moisture.
There are a couple of considerations for handling mold that already exists in a building or home: when you can clean or have to remove, how to clean items or areas that you can handle safely, and when to consult an expert.
General Guidelines for Surface Materials
· Hard materials:
o When you can do it yourself:
§ If the area is less than 3 feet x 3 feet
§ If there isn’t Black Mold
o The EPA suggest you wear protective gear including:
§ A properly fitting N95 respirator
o How to eradicate this amount:
§ Scrub the mold off with warm, soapy water, then let dry completely
§ Bleach isn’t necessary on hard services
§ You can use White Vinegar but it is not necessary
o When you should consult an expert with proven experience cleaning up mold:
§ If the area is 10 ft2 or larger
§ If the area involves your heating and cooling system
§ If the area involves sewage or other contaminated water
· Absorbent materials:
o If the mold is on fabrics, carpet, ceiling tiles and other absorbent materials, you may need to replace them.
o Mold can grow inside the crevices
§ Making it all but impossible to remove
§ You may need to remove the material surrounding and replace it in order to eradicate the mold.
· Other materials:
o If you’re nervous about effectively cleaning moldy items, such as heirloom furniture, a valuable rug or keepsake clothing, consult an expert on the item.
o Get references and ask about affiliation with professional organizations.
o After clean-up, follow the tips above for preventing mold growth in the first place, and don’t forget to replace your air filter regularly—at least every season—so everyone in your home can breathe easier.
General Guidelines for Removal Process
· Find the source of moisture or water leak and have the problem repaired or repair it yourself.
· Remove moldy items from living areas. Once mold starts to grow in carpet, insulation, ceiling tiles, drywall, or wallboard, the only way to deal with the problem is by removal and replacement.
· It is important to properly clean and dry the area as you can still have an allergic reaction to parts of the dead mold and mold contamination may recur if there is still a source of moisture.
· Remove or replace carpets and upholstery that have been soaked and cannot be dried promptly.
· Clean up and dry out your home thoroughly and quickly (within 24-48 hours) after any flooding. Dig out mud and dirt. Use a wet vacuum to remove remaining dirt.
· Scrub cleanable surfaces (such as wood, tile, stone) with soapy water and a bristle brush. Thoroughly clean all hard surfaces (such as flooring, molding, wood and metal furniture, countertops, and sinks) with water and dish detergent.
· Dry surfaces quickly and thoroughly after cleaning. If you have a fan, air conditioner or dehumidifier that wasn’t affected by flooding use it to help the surfaces dry after you finish cleaning
· Mold growth can be removed from hard surfaces with commercial products, soap and water, or a bleach solution of no more than 1 cup (8 ounces) of bleach in 1 gallon of water to kill mold on surfaces. Never mix bleach with ammonia or other household cleaners.
· If you choose to use bleach to clean up mold:
o Never mix bleach with ammonia or other household cleaners. Mixing bleach with ammonia or other cleaning products will produce dangerous, toxic fumes.
o Open windows and doors to provide fresh air.
o Wear non-porous gloves and protective eye wear.
o Small areas (such as a shower, or an area the size of a door) can often be cleaned by residents, but larger areas might need more professional help.
o Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions when using bleach or any other cleaning product.
Family Health, Functional Medicine
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