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Fungi can be interesting outdoors and a delicious part of your meals (mushrooms, anyone?). One place you never want to find fungi, however, is growing inside your home. That’s because fungi such as mold can damage your home. More importantly, it can wreak havoc on your family members’ health. Fortunately, obtaining a basic knowledge of mold, the importance of getting rid of it, and figuring out the right ways to prevent/eliminate it can help you protect your home and family from this fungal threat.
In order to be able to detect the insidious threat of mold, it’s important to understand what it is and how it spreads throughout your home. According to the EPA, mold only needs four major ingredients to grow indoors: available spores (mold “seeds” that are invisible and nearly everywhere), nutrients (provided by organic materials), the right temperatures, and moisture. Mold becomes a problem indoors when one of its spores land on a damp space and starts to grow, which can occur in 24-48 hours. Unfortunately, mold does not require much moisture and can thrive on sites such as basement walls, around sinks and windows, and on bathroom grout and tile. Other common areas for mold growth include organic substances such as cloth, wood, paper, soil, and plant material. Mold is generally more prevalent in warmer areas (around the temperatures humans prefer), though certain molds can also grow at cooler temperatures.
When mold grows indoors, it may pose a health risk to you and your family members. Exposure to indoor mold may result in coughing, wheezing, and respiratory tract issues in healthy individuals. People with asthma, however, have more difficulties as mold triggers their symptoms. Other groups more adversely impacted by mold exposure include people with respiratory illnesses, immunocompromised individuals, the elderly, and children. In fact, the CDC states that some studies have linked mold exposure to the development of asthma in children.
Unfortunately, mold isn’t only a health risk; it can also damage your property. When spores land on organic substances and form colonies, they begin to digest these organic materials. That means any material mold colonizes – including carpet, drywall, and wood – will start to decompose. Therefore, it is best to keep mold out of your home to protect your property and prevent your family members from developing issues.
Prevention is always best in the case of mold. Here are three tips, courtesy of the EPA, for averting a mold disaster:
1. Clean up water quickly. If you have a water leak, make sure you clean up the spill within 24-48 hours to stop mold growth. Also watch for condensation on pipes, windows, and walls. When you do see moisture begin to collect, dry the area thoroughly. Identify the moisture source and work to reduce it.
2. Keep those gutters clean. Ensure your gutters are cleaned and repaired regularly.
3. Lower the humidity indoors. In order to reduce the risk of spores taking root and munching on your walls, keep your indoor humidity level below 60 percent. The best humidity zone for an indoor structure is between 30 and 50 percent.