Mold - Asbestos - Lead - Radon - Indoor Air Quality - Chemicals
Mold - IAQ Q&A
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
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.
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 athttp://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 at http://www.cdc.gov/nceh/airpollution/indoor_air.htm.