Mold: Simple Solutions For Clean-Up And Prevention
What Is Mold? Mold is considered a fungus, and can be found on everything from Brie to bedding. It is not inherently toxic or harmful, and not always an allergy trigger, depending on the form it takes and the individual's reaction. Fungi release seeds that are known as mold spores. When these spores are inhaled or come in contact with the eyes, they cause allergic reactions in millions of Americans. Common symptoms include:
Mold spores can also be an asthma trigger, causing symptoms of wheezing, coughing and shortness of breath. A growing body of research now also links inhaled fungi in the nasal cavities with the development of chronic sinusitis.
- Nasal congestion
- Clear runny nose
- Itchy, watery eyes
Mold can be found in just about any environment, depending on the conditions. The National Allergy Bureau of the American Academy of Asthma, Allergy, and Immunology (AAAAI) has even begun monitoring outdoor airborne mold counts in certain cities, similar to pollen readings that they publish in the spring and fall. View a sample reading.
Is All The Hype Warranted? Yes and no. While scientists estimate that mold spores may be the most abundant natural particles in outdoor air, it's important to remember that not all molds produce those much-publicized toxins that cause schools to close, homes to be evacuated, or strange illnesses to occur. A leaky sink may not mean you need to evacuate your home, but it may mean your allergies will start acting up. Read more about identifying the most common molds in our learning library.
Simple Steps For Mold Cleanup Fortunately, taking care of a mold problem in your home may not call for an expensive remediation specialist. In fact, you can breathe easier knowing that mold remediation is often as simple as finding the source of moisture and eliminating it. Knowing the history of your home or apartment complex can be very helpful in locating problem spots. For example, have you or a previous owner experienced water damage or leakage of any kind? Has the foundation been inspected for moisture or seepage? Then, if a source is identified, our Mold Clean-Up Kit (On Special This Month) brings together many of the tools you will need for the job.
N95 Rated Mask
All Purpose NAS-12 Cleaner
No More Mildew Mold Preventative
First, protect yourself. Every mold cleanup project should start with using the proper protection. You probably don't need a hazmat suit to clean your shower's grout, but you should wear non-vented goggles, an N95 mask and protective gloves for any bigger clean up projects, especially if mold is one of your allergy, asthma, or sinus triggers.
Next, clean the mold-affected surface. Use a chlorine-free cleaner like All Purpose NAS-12 for inside jobs or RD-30 for roofs and sidewalks. For persistent mold stains on certain textiles, try soaking them with a non-chlorine bleach powder.
- To Protect Your Lungs: Wear an N95 rated respirator/mask when working around mold. These masks, when worn properly, will prevent mold spores as well as other allergens from entering your lungs. The N95 rating was developed by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) and means the mask media will filter 95% of all non-oil based airborne particulates. N95 rated masks are used by most professionals in the mold remediation business.
- To Protect Your Hands & Skin: Wear rubber or vinyl gloves, preferably those that extend to the middle of the forearm, to prevent inadvertent contact with the mold-contaminated area.
- To Protect Your Eyes: Mold allergen is already an irritant causing many to have a runny nose and watery eyes. Goggles are an important defense against getting potentially dangerous mold spores in your eyes. Goggles that don't have ventilation holes are best. Standard swimming goggles can be used for smaller projects, but may fog if used extensively.
Finally, prevent regrowth of mold as much as possible. After cleaning, if needed, let the surface dry thoroughly, then apply a long-lasting mold inhibitor like No More Mildew to prevent mold growth for up to two years.
Practical Tips For Mold Clean-Up
- Repair all moisture leaks within 48 hours of occurrence in order to prevent mold growth.
- Before cleaning an affected area, lightly spray it with water or your chosen cleaning solution. This will prevent the spores from becoming airborne as you clean. And remember to wear gloves, goggles, and a mask as noted above.
- Scrub mold off of hard surfaces with cleaner and let dry completely. Some porous and absorbent materials, such as ceiling tiles, may need to be replaced entirely.
- Do not just paint or caulk over a moldy surface. First, clean the area thoroughly, let it dry completely (24 hours if you have used a chlorine based product), and then treat the area with No More Mildew or paint with a mold-retardant like M-1 added to the paint.
- Thoroughly clean your showers, windowsills, kitchen and other areas that might be prone to moisture and mold growth. Treat these surfaces with a mold inhibitor such as No More Mildew.
- Closely monitor and clean appliances such as humidifiers, water based vaporizers and air conditioning units that generate or collect moisture. Note: Some homes in drier climates use evaporative swamp coolers. These cooling units are major mold culprits. Regularly clean your swamp cooler to prevent mold from growing and dispersing into the air.
- Basements have all the conditions that help mold thrive. Keep your basement clean by removing moldy articles, cleaning all surface molds, then spraying floors, walls and joists with a mold preventative such as No More Mildew. Use a basement dehumidifier to remove excess moisture.
See a handy guide that outlines some common mold-affected areas and gives precautions and methods for cleaning. Again, remember to wear proper protective gear during clean-up. Also, please note that these guidelines are for surface areas of 10 square feet or less. If the evidence of mold covers more than 10 square feet, you should seek a professional consultation as it may be endangering your health and could require containment.
Simple Steps For Mold Prevention Of course, anything that can be done to prevent mold is easier than having to get rid of it. In most cases, preventing mold is as easy as lowering a home's humidity and making a few other changes to create an inhospitable environment for mold growth such as the ones below.
|Monitor and regulate relative humidity levels in your home with a digital gauge or other device. Humidity levels should be kept around 45%.|
|A high-efficiency furnace filter can do wonders to reduce your home's total allergen count, even trapping mold spores. You can also use your home's ventilation system to your advantage by always leaving the forced air fan running. Good ventilation creates slight positive pressure thereby preventing the infiltration of moist air.|
|Keep a close eye on areas prone to condensation. Increase the air temperature when condensation begins to appear to lower the relative humidity and dry things up. Ideally, there should be some fresh air infiltration that will carry away the moisture laden air. Relative humidity may also be lowered with a dehumidifier. (See Special Offer Below.)|
|For large-scale home humidity concerns, the latest whole house dehumidifiers can be ducted from a crawlspace, or placed within your home's living areas.|
|In the bathroom, run the vent fan or open windows during and after a shower so that the moisture can dissipate, and use a mildew resistant shower curtain to help control mold growth. Also remove carpet if possible as it absorbs moisture.|
|Mix in M-1 Advanced Mildewcide Paint Additive for mildew-resistant interior or exterior paint. Retard the growth of mold on any painted surface. M-1 works great with all latex, oil-based and solvent-based paints, as well as stains and coatings.|
|Keep a limited number of houseplants, and try spraying a mold preventative on the soil. No More Mildew forms an invisible, micro-thin coating to prevent mold, mildew and bacteria growth for up to two full years! Use anywhere mold grows - bathrooms, basements, crawlspaces...|
Room air cleaners aren't just for pollen and pet dander. A highly efficient room purifier can remove over 99% of allergens, including mold spores, from the air you breathe. Don't forget that Whirlpool Whispure Air Purifiers are ON SALE (see above).
|Ionic room air purifiers*, such as this Wein unit, are especially effective for reducing a room's airborne mold counts. We recommend them for basements and crawlspaces in particular. Although Wein products emit very low levels of ozone, if you have asthma, check with your healthcare provider before using any ionic device.|
|Dispersing an all-natural botanical solution like CitriSafe* within a room can reduce airborne mold counts. This product is great for those who want a chemical-free, effective alternative for mold control, and it can be used by even the most sensitive populations.|
|**Ionic purifiers and the CitriSafe treatment are part of an ENT-developed protocol to reduce airborne mold, thereby decreasing the risk of Chronic Sinusitis. Read more about the Sinus 123 protocol. |
Provide adequate ventilation and air circulation in the home by installing exhaust fans and opening room doors and windows. Use discretion with open windows during peak seasonal allergy months.
Periodically check carpet laid directly on concrete surfaces for dampness and mold. Carpeting can absorb moisture through the floor.
Large quantities of water vapor and soil gasses can enter through the lower surfaces of crawl spaces. Consider covering concrete floors or crawl-space floors with plastic sheets or tarps in moisture-prone areas.
UV light has been shown by various studies to kill molds and bacteria, but there is conflicting evidence about the best application of this technology. Our assertion is that for UV lamps to be effective, mold and bacteria must have ample exposure to the lamp. Therefore, placing the UV lamp next to coils where mold and bacteria can grow is more effective than placing the lamp where air flow brings airborne mold and bacteria past the UV quickly. Be sure that any UV device you buy is clear about its effectiveness and that it does not produce harmful ozone, a possible byproduct of such lamps.
Home building materials are getting more and more advanced. It is now possible to buy pre-treated wood that is less susceptible to mold and termites. If you are building or re-modeling, check with your contractor about mold-resistant materials.
Spring showers and increasing summer temperatures can contribute to higher mold risks. Be sure you are doing what you can to manage your home's humidity, and be sure you are including mold and mildew clean-up in your spring cleaning regimen before those spores can get airborne and aggravate your allergies.
The information in this newsletter is for educational purposes only. Always consult with your doctor first about your specific condition, treatment options and other health concerns you may have.
Remember that our customer service representatives have plenty of experience guiding people through the options for allergy, asthma and sinus relief, so feel free to contact us by calling one of our phone experts at 1-800-522-1448 Monday through Friday between the hours of 9:00 am and 5:30 pm Eastern Time. You can also e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org.