Mold - Asbestos - Lead - Radon - Indoor Air Quality - Chemicals
Ten Things You Should Know About Mold
1. Potential health effects and symptoms associated with mold exposures include allergic reactions, asthma, and other respiratory complaints.
2. There is no practical way to eliminate all mold and mold spores in the indoor environment; the way to control indoor mold growth is to control moisture.
3. If mold is a problem in your home or school, you must clean up the mold and eliminate sources of moisture.
4. Fix the course of the water problem or leak to prevent mold growth.
5. Reduce indoor humidity (to 30-60%) to decrease mold growth by venting bathrooms, dryers, and other moisture-generating sources to the outside; using air conditioners and de-humidifiers; increasing ventilation; and using exhaust fans whenever cooking, dishwashing, and cleaning.
6. Clean and dry any damp or wet building materials and furnishings within 24-48 hours to prevent mold growth.
7. Clean mold off hard surfaces with water and detergent, and dry completely. Absorbent materials, such as ceiling tiles, that are moldy may not need to be replaced.
8. Prevent condensation. Reduce the potential for condensation on cold surfaces (i.e. windows, piping, exterior walls, roof, or floors) by adding insulation.
9. In areas where there is a perpetual moisture problem, do not install carpeting (i.e. by drinking fountains, classroom sinks, or on concrete floors with leaks or frequent condensation).
10. Molds can be found almost anywhere; they can grow on virtually any substance, providing moisture is present. There are molds that can grow on wood, paper, carpet, and foods.
Common Sources of Mold - Mold grows best in warm, damp and humid conditions. They spread and reproduce by making spores. Mold spores can survive harsh environmental conditions, even dry weather, that do not support normal mold growth. - Outdoors, mold can be found in shady, damp areas, or where leaves or other vegetation is decomposing. Indoors, they can be found in places where humidity is high, as in basements or showers.
How WISE Can Help WISE personnel have Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) experience beginning in the late 1980's, and fungal (mold) projects experience beginning in the early 1990's, when fungi was first becoming recognized as a contaminant in contemporary buildings. The firm has developed a Fungal Remediation Plan using industry-leading techniques, which has been used to direct remediation of over 500 sites. The firm also developed a fungal remediation worker's course geared to providing contractors the knowledge, approach, and tools to effectively deal with fungal contamination, per U.S. EPA recommended procedures. Click here for more information on this, and other, training courses offered by WISE.
What are molds? Molds are fungi that can be found both indoors and outdoors. No one knows how many species of fungi exist but estimates range from tens of thousands to perhaps three hundred thousand or more. Molds grow best in warm, damp, and humid conditions, and spread and reproduce by making spores. Mold spores can survive harsh environmental conditions, such as dry conditions, that do not support normal mold growth.
What are some of the common Indoor Molds?
How do molds affect people? Some people are sensitive to molds. For these people, exposure to molds can cause symptoms such as nasal stuffiness, eye irritation, wheezing, or skin irritation. Some people, such as those with serious allergies to molds, may have more severe 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. Some people with chronic lung illnesses, such as obstructive lung disease, may develop mold infections in their lungs.
Where are molds found? Molds are found in virtually every environment and can be detected, both indoors and outdoors, year round. Mold growth is encouraged by warm and humid conditions. Outdoors they can be found in shady, damp areas or places where leaves or other vegetation is decomposing. Indoors they can be found where humidity levels are high, such as basements or showers.
How can people decrease mold exposure? Sensitive individuals should avoid areas that are likely to have mold, such as compost piles, cut grass, and wooded areas. Inside homes, mold growth can be slowed by keeping humidity levels between 40% and 60%, and ventilating showers and cooking areas. If there is mold growth in your home, you should clean up the mold and fix the water problem. Mold growth can be removed from hard surfaces with commercial products, soap and water, or a bleach solution of no more than 1 cup of bleach in 1 gallon of water.
- Keep the humidity level in the house between 40% and 60%.
- Use an air conditioner or a dehumidifier during humid months.
- Be sure the home has adequate ventilation, including exhaust fans.
- Add mold inhibitors to paints before application.
- Clean bathrooms with mold killing products.
- Do not carpet bathrooms and basements.
- Remove or replace previously soaked carpets and upholstery.
What areas have high mold exposures? Antique shops, Greenhouses, Saunas, Farms, Mills, Construction areas, Flower shops, Summer cottages.
I found mold growing in my home, how do I test the mold? Generally, it is not necessary to identify the species of mold growing in a residence, and CDC does not recommend routine sampling for molds. Current evidence indicates that allergies are the type of diseases most often associated with molds. Since the susceptibility of individuals can vary greatly either because of the amount or type of mold, sampling and culturing are not reliable in determining your health risk. If you are susceptible to mold and mold is seen or smelled, there is a potential health risk; therefore, no matter what type of mold is present, you should arrange for its removal. Furthermore, reliable sampling for mold can be expensive, and standards for judging what is and what is not an acceptable or tolerable quantity of mold have not been established.
A qualified environmental lab took samples of the mold in my home and gave me the results. Can CDC interpret these results?Standards for judging what is an acceptable, tolerable, or normal quantity of mold have not been established. If you do decide to pay for environmental sampling for molds, before the work starts, you should ask the consultants who will do the work to establish criteria for interpreting the test results. They should tell you in advance what they will do or what recommendations they will make based on the sampling results. The results of samples taken in your unique situation cannot be interpreted without physical inspection of the contaminated area or without considering the building's characteristics and the factors that led to the present condition.
My landlord or builder will not take any responsibility for cleaning up the mold in my home. Where can I go for help? If you feel your property owner, landlord, or builder has not been responsive to concerns you've expressed regarding mold exposure, you can contact your local board of health or housing authority. Applicable codes, insurance, inspection, legal, and similar issues about mold generally fall under state and local (not federal) jurisdiction. You could also review your lease or building contract and contact local or state government authorities, your insurance company, or an attorney to learn more about local codes and regulations and your legal rights. CDC does not have enforcement power in such matters, nor can we provide you with advice. You can contact your county or state health department about mold issues in your area to learn about what mold assessment and remediation services they may offer. You can find information on your state's Indoor Air Quality program at http://www.cdc.gov/nceh/airpollution/indoor_air.htm.
I'm sure that mold in my workplace is making me sick. If you believe you are ill because of exposure to mold in the building where you work, you should first consult your health care provider to determine the appropriate action to take to protect your health. Notify your employer and, if applicable, your union representative about your concern so that your employer can take action to clean up and prevent mold growth. To find out more about mold, remediation of mold, or workplace safety and health guidelines and regulations, you may also want to contact your local (city, county, or state) health department. You should also read the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Guidelines, Mold Remediation in Schools and CommercialBuildings, at http://www.epa.gov/iaq/molds/mold_remediation.html.
I am very concerned about mold in my children's school and how it affects their health.
If you believe your children are ill because of exposure to mold in their school, first consult their health care provider to determine the appropriate medical action to take. Contact the school's administration to express your concern and to ask that they remove the mold and prevent future mold growth. If needed, you could also contact the local school board.
CDC is not a regulatory agency and does not have enforcement authority in local matters. Your local health department may also have information on mold, and you may want to get in touch with your state Indoor Air Quality office. Information on this office is available athttp://www.cdc.gov/nceh/airpollution/indoor_air.htm.
Wise Consulting and Training (WISE) is an environmental consulting and training firm specializing in remediation / abatement design and management for buildings and other industrial facilities.The firm is comprised of a small but extremely qualified staff of industrial hygienists and support professionals.The industrial hygienists have professional backgrounds that include engineering, construction management, and research. The key personnel of WISE have Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) experience beginning in the late 1980's and fungal (mold) projects experience beginning in the early 1990's, when fungi was first becoming recognized as a contaminant in contemporary buildings.In the last five years the firm has completed over 1,000 fungal projects including projects for hospitals, schools, daycare and elderly facilities, professional offices, condominiums, apartments and hundreds of single family residences.The firm developed a Fungal Remediation Plan, using industry-leading techniques that has been used to direct remediation of over 500 sites.The firm also developed a fungal remediation workers course geared to providing contractors the knowledge, approach, and tools to effectively deal with fungal contamination, per U.S. EPA recommended procedures. The following items summarize the approach, qualifications, and experience of WISE related to fungal projects:
1) Focus and Cost Effectiveness: Focus on identifying and resolving issues, not on needless testing and remediation.
2)Experience:Over 10 years on mold investigations, with 1,000 projects in the last 5 years.
3) Innovation:Developed Fungal Remediation Plan with industry leading techniques and exceptional success.
4) Training:Highly qualified industrial hygiene personnel teach courses for contractors, facility managers, and consultants.
5) Partnering:Team with industry leading microbiologists and doctors to correctly identify facility and personal health issues.
6)Respect:Exposure to fungal contamination can cause serious health effects, depending on the general health, sensitivity, and degree of exposure an individual experiences.
Contact WISE to receive additional information for project quotes.Generally, initial fungal investigations cost $600 to $1,200 for small sites.Insurance industry sources indicate average costs of more than $1,400.