Mold And Mildew Facts

Natural Healthy Home Cleaning Tips
Mold And Mildew Facts

Important  Information: The EPA is now saying, The use of a biocide, such as chlorine bleach, is not recommended as a routine practice during mold remediation.  For more information Click Here

What are molds?
Molds are small organisms found almost everywhere, inside and outside, including on plants, foods and dry leaves. They can be nearly any color - white, orange, green or black. Molds are beneficial to the environment and are needed to break down dead material. Very tiny and lightweight, mold spores travel easily through the air.
Most building surfaces can provide adequate nutrients to support the growth of mold. When mold spores land on material that is damp - for example, walls, floors, appliances (such as humidifiers or air conditioners), carpet or furniture - they can begin to multiply. When molds are present in large numbers, they may cause allergic symptoms similar to those caused by plant pollen.

What does mold need to grow?
Mold needs :
a food source such as leaves, paper, wood or dirt
a source of moisture
a place to grow                                   
What are sources of moisture in my home?
Mold growing in closet as a result of condensation

There are many sources of mold in the home including:
leaky roofs
damp basement or crawl spaces
constant plumbing leaks
clothes dryers vented indoors
poorly ventilated bathrooms

How can I be exposed to mold?
You are exposed to some mold every day, usually by touching, eating or breathing it. When mold is growing on a surface, spores can be released into the air where they can be easily inhaled. A person who ingests or inhales a large number of spores may suffer adverse health effects.

What health effects can be caused by exposure?
Exposure to any mold could cause health effects (e.g., allergic symptoms such as watery eyes, a runny nose, sneezing, nasal congestion, itching, coughing, wheezing, difficulty breathing, headache and fatigue) under the right conditions. Similarly, the same amount of mold may cause health effects in one person, but not in another, because some people are more sensitive to molds than others. These include:
infants and children
elderly persons
immune compromised patients (i.e., people with HIV infection, cancer, liver disease, etc., or who are under-going chemotherapy)
individuals with existing respiratory conditions, such as allergies and asthma.

Should I be concerned about my home?
When airborne mold spores are present in large numbers, they can cause skin irritation, allergic reactions, asthma episodes, infections and other respiratory problems for people. Exposure to high spore levels can cause the development of an allergy to the mold. Mold also can cause structural damage to your home.

Can my home be tested?
Testing for molds is very difficult and expensive. Homeowners must hire a contractor to test their homes. Even if testing is done, no standards exist to judge what are acceptable amounts of mold. Testing cannot determine whether health effects will occur. Mold is normally found outdoors and counts fluctuate from day to day depending on the season. Due to the uncertainties associated with testing for molds, it is not recommended in most cases. If you can see or smell mold, testing is usually not necessary. It needs to be cleaned up.

What is Stachybotrys?
is a greenish-black, slimy mold found only on cellulose products (such as wood or paper) that have remained wet for several days or more. Stachybotrys doesn't grow on concrete, linoleum or tile. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), all molds should be treated the same with respect to potential health risks and removal. All molds should be handled with caution.

In 1994, the CDC investigated whether exposure to Stachybotrys might be related to pulmonary hemorrhage, also known as bleeding lungs, in infants in Cleveland, Ohio. They concluded that there was a strong association between Stachybotrys and bleeding lungs.

Because this conclusion was disputed by experts in the scientific community, the CDC organized a panel to review the study results. In the 10 March 1999 issue of Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, the expert panel concluded that an association between exposure to Stachybotrys and bleeding lungs in infants was not proven.

My belongings were soaked when my basement got flooded. What should I do?
Carpets, paper and other absorbent materials can grow mold after getting soaked. In general, it is best to throw out those items. Other items made of glass or metal should be cleaned and disinfected.

How should I clean moldy surfaces?
It is important to make sure that the source of moisture is stopped before the mold is cleaned up. If this is not done, the mold will grow again. How you clean up areas contaminated with mold depends on the surface where the mold is growing. A professional should be consulted if large areas (more than 30 square feet) are contaminated with mold. If the surface is non-porous (varnished wood, tile, etc.), you can take the following steps.

The surfaces first need to be cleaned with soap.
Use non-ammonia soap or detergent in hot water and scrub the entire area affected by the mold. Never mix bleach with ammonia; the fumes are toxic.
Use a stiff brush or cleaning pad on block walls or uneven surfaces. (Here are some tips if you need to know how to repair a hole in the wall or uneven surfaces).
Rinse clean with water.

Here are some recipes for using Essential Oils To combat mold:

Tea Tree Spray For Mold

Nothing natural works for mold and mildew as well as this spray. Tea tree oil is expensive, but a little goes a very long way. Note that the smell of tea tree oil is very strong, but it will dissipate in a few days.
2 teaspoons tea tree oil
2 cups water
Combine in a spray bottle, shake to blend, and spray on problem areas. Do not rinse.
Makes 2 cups
Preparation Time: Under a minute
Shelf Life: Indefinite
Storage: Leave in the spray bottle

 Grapefruit Seed Extract For Mold

The advantage of using grapefruit seed extract instead of tea tree oil for killing mold is that it is odorless.
20 drops grapefruit seed extract
2 cups water
Combine in a spray bottle, shake to blend, and spray on problem areas. Do not rinse.
Makes 2 cups
Preparation Time: A minute or so
Shelf Life: Indefinite
Storage: Leave in the spray bottle

Vinegar Spray For Mold

Straight vinegar reportedly kills 82 percent of mold. Pour some white distilled vinegar straight into a spray bottle, spray on the moldy area, and let set without rinsing.  The smell will dissipate in a few hours.

Let disinfecting areas dry naturally. This extended time is important to kill all the mold.
How can I reduce my exposure to the mold while cleaning it up?
During the cleanup of molds, many spores may be released into the air. Mold counts in air are typically 10 to 1,000 times higher than background levels during the cleaning and removal of mold-damaged materials. To prevent health effects, there are several ways you can protect yourself while cleaning up the mold.

Anyone with a chronic illness, such as asthma or emphysema, should not do the cleanup.
Use a HEPA filter respirator purchased from a hardware store to reduce the mold spores you breathe in.
Wear protective clothing that is easily cleaned or discarded.
Wear rubber gloves.
Do not allow family members or bystanders to be present when you are doing the cleanup.
Work over short time spans and take breaks in a fresh air location.
Open the windows in your house during and after the cleanup.
Shut off heat or air conditioning to prevent mold spores from being spread around the home.
Tightly cover the air return vent if there is one in the affected area.
Turn on an exhaust fan or place a fan in a window to blow air out of the affected room to the outside (make sure the air is being blown outside the home, not into another room).
Double bag materials before you remove them from a contaminated area.

Where can I get more information?

Rhode Island Department of Health
Environmental Health Risk Assessment
3 Capitol Hill - Room 201
Providence, RI 02908-5097
(401) 222-3424

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