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How To Protect Your Home & Your Health From Mold

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News For A Healthier You Newsletter - July 2011 - Save 15% On Select Products To Control Mold In Your Home - Through August 8, 2011 - Click to Subscribe & Start Saving
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This issue of News For A Healthier You answers questions about mold in your home and its effect on your health:
  1. How does mold get in my home?
  2. Should I be concerned about mold in my home?
  3. How do I get mold out of my home?
  4. How do I prevent mold from growing in my home?
  5. Products To Help With Mold Elimination & Prevention
  6. July's Specials - 15% Off Select Products To Help You Control Mold In Your Home - Only For Newsletter Subscribers
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How To Protect Your Home & Your Health From Mold

How does mold get in my home?
Mold is an essential part of our ecosystem - when it is outdoors. You really don't need mold indoors at all. However, mold spores (tiny, lightweight "seeds" by which mold reproduces) that you are not able to see are constantly floating in the air. They enter your home through open doors and windows, vents, and on your clothing and your pets. When spores land on a surface that is favorable to their growth - dark and damp, indoors or outdoors - a colony begins to grow within 24 to 48 hours and will continue to grow as long as conditions are right. That is why it is so important to deal with leaks and water damage in your home immediately so mold can't get a start. The following are sources of indoor moisture that may cause problems compiled by the Arizona Department of Health Services:
  • flooding
  • backed-up sewers
  • leaky roofs
  • humidifiers
  • mud or ice dams
  • damp basement or crawl spaces
  • constant plumbing leaks
  • house plants -- watering can generate large amounts of moisture
  • steam from cooking
  • shower/bath steam and leaks
  • wet clothes on indoor drying lines
  • clothes dryers vented indoors
  • combustion appliances (e.g. stoves) not exhausted to the outdoors
Should I be concerned about mold in my home?
Mold does have the potential to cause health problems. If you are sensitive to mold, it can cause allergic reactions such as skin rash, sneezing, sniffling, headache, runny nose, and red, watery eyes. Mold can also be a contributing factor to an asthma attack. Some mold, although less common, can be toxic, including Stachybotrys chartarum (or Stachybotrys atra), which is known as black mold.

A little bathroom mold in the tub or shower is not cause for alarm and is easily controlled. You know that steam and water from the shower or bath is the cause. However, if mold spreads to walls or if you have leaks around the tub, sink or toilet, you need to find the source of moisture and take further action to correct the problem. Other common places mold likes to grow include: basements, crawl spaces, kitchens (under sinks, around dishwashers, refrigerator drip pans), air conditioning units (drip pans or around window units), walls and ceilings (from leaks in the house or the roof), and window sills when there is condensation. If there is mold, there is moisture. Fixing the moisture problem is critical because even if you remove the mold, it will simply come back if you haven't taken care of the source of moisture.

Besides health issues, mold can also be detrimental to your house itself because mold gradually damages the surface on which it grows. The job of mold in nature is to help in the decaying process because it feeds on the surface where it is attached, breaking it down. This is great in nature, but not in your home.

Mold cannot always be seen. It could be inside your walls or in your crawl space. If you suspect mold due to a musty smell or if you have had a leak and are concerned you might have mold, using a mold detection kit can be helpful to determine the presence of mold.

How do I get mold out of my home?
Once you have identified the source of moisture and corrected the problem, it is time for clean up. National Allergy carries many products for health and home that address the elimination and prevention of mold. These products are highly effective and easy to use in dealing with small areas of mold.

Mold remediation of large areas can be serious business to make sure the mold is contained, eradicated, and not harmful to the remediator. If the area of mold is greater than 10-25 square feet in total size, it may be advisable to call in a professional mold remediator who has the proper protective gear and the knowledge to safely get rid of the mold.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has produced a brochure that is an excellent source of help for extremely water damaged or flooded homes. In this brochure, FEMA states that discoloration of walls and/or ceilings or an odor ranging from musty to a stench are signs of mold, and the first step to mold elimination is to identify the source of moisture and correct the problem. FEMA suggests professional help if the area of mold exceeds 25 square feet, but other sources recommend getting a pro if the area of mold is more than 10 square feet. FEMA also gives these helpful general tips for dealing with mold:
  • Exercise caution in cleaning and disinfecting molds because they release mold spores when disturbed.
  • Never mix bleach with ammonia; fumes from the combination are toxic.
  • When discarding items that are mold contaminated, use extreme caution, or hire a professional.
How do I prevent mold from growing in my home?
It is impossible to get rid of mold spores in your home's air and found in house dust, but you can make your home unattractive to mold growth. Since mold only grows where there is moisture, the key to mold control is moisture control.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommends taking these steps to prevent moisture build up in your home that could lead to mold:
  • When water leaks or spills occur indoors - ACT QUICKLY. If wet or damp materials or areas are dried 24-48 hours after a leak or spill happens, in most cases mold will not grow.
  • Clean and repair roof gutters regularly.
  • Make sure the ground slopes away from the building foundation, so that water does not enter or collect around the foundation.
  • Keep air conditioning drip pans clean and the drain lines unobstructed and flowing properly.
  • Keep indoor humidity low. If possible, keep indoor humidity below 60 percent (ideally between 30 and 50 percent). Relative humidity can be measured with a moisture or humidity meter, a small, inexpensive instrument (such as the Acu-Rite Indoor Humidity Monitor).
  • If you see condensation or moisture collecting on windows, walls or pipes ACT QUICKLY to dry the wet surface and reduce the moisture/water source. Condensation can be a sign of high humidity.
The EPA suggests the following actions to help reduce humidity in your home:
  • Vent appliances that produce moisture, such as clothes dryers, stoves, and kerosene heaters to the outside where possible. (Combustion appliances such as stoves and kerosene heaters produce water vapor and will increase the humidity unless vented to the outside.)
  • Use air conditioners and/or dehumidifiers (like Soleus Dehumidifiers) when needed.
  • Run the bathroom fan or open the window when showering. Use exhaust fans or open windows whenever cooking, running the dishwasher or dishwashing, etc.
The EPA recommends these actions that will help prevent condensation if that is a problem in your home:
  • Reduce the humidity.
  • Increase ventilation or air movement by opening doors and/or windows, when practical. Use fans as needed.
  • Cover cold surfaces, such as cold water pipes, with insulation.
  • Increase air temperature.

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Margie Bullock, Newsletter Editor

Closing Thoughts
Mold is very difficult (and no fun) to control because it is everywhere and requires constant monitoring of moisture to prevent its growth. I hope the information above is helpful to you in handling or preventing mold in your home. Please share your thoughts about our products and our service by posting on our Facebook Page.

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