A hazard less likely to be deadly or debilitating than lead, CO, radon, and asbestos, but which still poses a danger to you and your family, is mold. It exists everywhere, in all settings, inside and out, wet or dry, and can potentially cause health problems if not addressed. Over 1,000 types of molds have appeared in homes across America (CDC, 2002). Fortunately, unlike the gaseous dangers of CO and radon, the undetectable taste of lead, and the microscopic, fibrous nature of asbestos, mold can be seen with the naked eye in the form of dark growths, often resembling inkblots.
The microscopic offspring of mold – spores- travel through the air. Certain rooms in your home may be more susceptible than others. For example, the bathroom can be a breeding ground for dangerous mold due to the frequent moisture. Currently the CDC reports that many of the dangers of mold are unknown, but it has been linked to some cancers. More commonly, however, it affects people who are allergic to it, often causing further complications for asthmatics.
Although you might not be able to see mold until after it has begun growing, the following measures can help you eliminate it:
- Clean vulnerable areas monthly. Tile and grout and prime targets for fungi. Regular cleaning may help prevent mold before it starts.
- Ventilate closed-in areas. A bathroom fan can help minimize daily moisture. Also, consider using a dehumidifider in a damp basement or cellar.
- Monitor kitchen and bathroom carpets regularly. The moisture on a rugged surface can quickly turn a decorative rug into a harbor for fungi.
- Remove paper, books, and old clothes that are no longer in use. These porous materials tend to invite mold.
If you have been overexposed to molds, or are allergic to molds, you may experience symptoms similar to those of pollen allergies or “hay fever,” which include sneezing and coughing. Remember more, more likely than not, you will be unable to ride your home of all mold, but you may be able to protect yourself and your family from overexposure.