Molds are part of the natural environment, and can be found everywhere, indoors and outdoors. Mold is not usually a problem, unless it begins growing indoors. The best way to control mold growth is to control moisture. The EPA website provides guidance about mold and moisture for homes, schools, multifamily and commercial buildings. Molds can have a big impact on indoor air quality.
Ten Things You Should Know about Mold
- Mold can cause health effects.
- 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.
- If mold is a problem in your home or school, you must clean up the mold and eliminate sources of moisture.
- Fix the source of the water problem or leak to prevent mold growth.
- 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
- Using exhaust fans whenever cooking, dishwashing and cleaning
If you already have a mold problem - ACT QUICKLY. Mold damages what it grows on. The longer it grows, the more damage it can cause. Who should do the cleanup depends on a number of factors. One consideration is the size of the mold problem. If the moldy area is less than about 10 square feet (think of a roughly a 3 ft. by 3 ft. patch), in most cases, you can handle the job yourself. However:
- If there has been a lot of water damage, and/or mold growth covers more than 10 square feet, consult EPA guide Mold Remediation in Schools and Commercial Buildings. Although focused on schools and commercial buildings, this document is applicable to other building types.
- If you choose to hire a contractor (or other professional service provider) to do the cleanup, make sure the contractor has experience cleaning up mold. Check references and ask the contractor to follow the recommendations in EPA guide Mold Remediation in Schools and Commercial Buildings, the guidelines of the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH), or other guidelines from professional or government organizations.
- If you suspect that the heating/ventilation/air conditioning (HVAC) system may be contaminated with mold (it is part of an identified moisture problem, for instance, or there is mold near the intake to the system), consult EPA guide Should You Have the Air Ducts in Your Home Cleaned? before taking further action. Do not run the HVAC system if you know or suspect that it is contaminated with mold - it could spread mold throughout the building.
- If the water and/or mold damage was caused by sewage or other contaminated water, then call in a professional who has experience cleaning and fixing buildings damaged by contaminated water.
- If you have health concerns, consult a health professional before starting cleanup.
Floods and Flooding
During a flood cleanup, the indoor air quality in your home or office may appear to be the least of your problems. However, failure to remove contaminated materials and to reduce moisture and humidity can present serious long-term health risks. Standing water and wet materials are a breeding ground for microorganisms, such as viruses, bacteria, and mold. They can cause disease, trigger allergic reactions, and continue to damage materials long after the flood.
EPA (United States Environmental Protection Agency): https://www.epa.gov/mold