What Is Black Mold
Like other types of mold, black mold is commonly found in dark, humid areas of homes. It releases spores into the air that you can absorb through your skin or breathe in. These spores can also catch a ride from you to other areas, spreading it throughout your home.
Where black mold differs from other common household molds, however, is its reputation for being toxic. Many people refer to black mold simply as toxic mold. When left alone, black mold can cause serious health issues, especially for high-risk individuals.
The most common health issues from black mold are respiratory. You might experience coughing, sneezing or an itchy throat after prolonged exposure to black mold spores. People who are at higher risk, like infants or someone with existing respiratory issues, could experience long-term health consequences.
What Causes Indoor Air Pollution
The most common sources of indoor air pollution include asbestos, carbon monoxide emissions from central heating systems and gas stoves, radon, bacteria and viruses, allergens like mold, pet dander, and dust mites, and volatile organic compounds found in household items like harsh chemical cleaning products, air fresheners, scented candles, paint, carpeting, adhesives, pesticides, and wood preservatives.
Inadequate ventilation can also contribute to indoor air pollution by trapping the allergens and pollutants inside and keeping the outdoor air from diluting emissions caused by the pollutants, says the Environmental Protection Agency . “High temperature and humidity levels can also increase concentrations of some pollutants,” the EPA adds.
“Living near a busy road can also affect the indoor air quality as the pollutants from car exhaust can enter your home,” says Dr. Payel Gupta, assistant clinical professor at SUNY Downstate Medical Center, Brooklyn, and spokesperson for the American Lung Association.
Tips For Mold Prevention
After you learn how to remove mold, focus on preventing it in the future. Controlling dampness is the key to stopping most mold. The worst infestations usually occur in damp crawl spaces, attics, walls where water leaked in from the outside, and in basements with poor foundation drainage. Stopping leaks, ensuring good ventilation in attics, keeping crawl spaces dry and routing water away from the foundation are the best defenses against mold.
Mildewcide in paint is usually effective for controlling surface mold in damp rooms like bathrooms, and outside in shady areas. Many paints already have mildewcide in them. Check with your paint dealer about mold removal products.
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Extent Of Mould Growth
It is important to determine the extent of the mould problem in your home to help you decide on the clean-up procedure. An area of mould is considered small if it covers one square metre or less. There should be no more than three patches of mould, with the total area staying within one square metre. Many small patches of mould in one area or throughout your home are a sign of moisture problems that need to be investigated and corrected right away.
If ignored, small mould areas may become larger over time, so it is important to clean them up before the problem gets bigger. A small amount of mould may be cleaned up using proper procedures and protective equipment.
The area of mould is considered medium if there are more than three patches of mould , but the total area is less than three square metres. In this case, assessment by a qualified professional is recommended but in most cases a medium amount of mould may be cleaned up using proper procedures and protective equipment .
An area of mould is considered large if a single patch of mould is larger than three square metres. Health Canada does not recommend that an unqualified person clean up large areas of mould. You may need a professional assessment to determine why the mould is there in the first place and how to clean it up.
Do Air Purifiers Remove Mould Spores
Air purifiers have been proven to significantly help the removal of mould spores within the air. Whilst an air purifier will help remove the long-term mould spores that may have been festering within your property, the device itself will not eradicate the leading cause of mould. According to the Healthy but Smart article, an air purifier draws the air into the filters and captures tiny airborne particles such as smoke, dust and mould spores. Clean air is then circulated throughout the room leaving the air feeling drier, more hygienic and fresher.
Once you have found the leading cause of the formation of mould within your apartment, its advised that you use an air purifier to filter out any remaining mould spores that need a little more nudging to leave the premise. This technology should only be used at the end of the mould remediation process for maximum and long-term effect.
An air purifier is not a piece of technology you will need daily. It can be an expensive purchase to use in a one-time situation therefore, we would always advise that you rent an air purifier or hire a service such as ICE to implement the technology.
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How To Remove Mold And Mildew From Your Indoor Air
When you witness signs of molds in your house, remember that mold can be of different types. According to the intensity and impact, the molds are classified by allergenic molds, Aspergillus, Penicillium, Cladosporium, and Alternaria molds.
- Allergenic molds can provoke allergies and asthma.
- Aspergillus molds are grown from dust during damp and gloomy weather.
- Penicillium molds are often found in wallpaper, old clothes, and carpet.
- Cladosporium usually grows on wood, textiles, and materials that are prone to damp.
- Alternaria molds can be found on food, paper, cables, cardboard and organic materials.
If you are witnessing any of the types of mold, you should initiate the following measures to improve your indoor air quality.
The first and foremost measure to eradicate the fungus attack is ventilation. The air needs to pass outside to remove the indoor moisture.
The continuous movement of air ensures the home is dry, thus the windows, floors, and ceilings have the less propensity to get affected by the mold.
Use a Dehumidifier
If you do not waste your time following routine work to remove indoor moisture, you can invest in a dehumidifier. I would say it could be a necessity if the mold problem is huge in your home.
A dehumidifier can prevent growth and spread of the mold. However, the device does not kill the molds. Therefore, you need to make sure the existing molds are cleaned properly.
Repair Water Leaks
Get a HEPA Air purifier
Mold Spores Do Not Equal New Mold Growth
One of the most intimidating facts you learn about mold is that its basically unstoppable. The spores are everywhere, and at all times there are small, microscopic fungal colonies starting up all over the place.
Its kind of like learning that bacteria are basically everywhere, and theres nothing you can do to truly sterilize your home, your body, or almost any surface.
The upside? Because mold is everywhere, its also not really anywhere. Just because there are spores in the air, landing on surfaces in your home, it doesnt mean that you have to worry about new mold growth popping up all over the place.
You just have to shift your mindset on what causes mold to spring up in your house. Its not necessarily contamination from an outside source. Its that youre providing the ideal environment for mold to grow.
And make no mistake: the conditions that mold needs are quite specific. Consider this study from Dannemiller, et al in the journal Indoor Air. They showed that fungi spores increased with an increase in relative humidity, starting at about the 80% level:
At around 50% relative humidity, the mold spore level was the same as the background tested before the experiment began. As you can see, then, if you are keeping humidity under control, then you wont give the mold a good chance to grow. It really does require some extraordinary moisture to get a mold colony growing!
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How To Get Rid Of Mold In The Basement/crawlspace
Removing mold in these areas follows the same procedure as for walls and ceilings. However, in these areas, the cause of the mold might be especially hard to deal with. An overly humid basement or a poorly ventilated attic could become damp and moldy. Resolving the moisture problem that caused the mold is vital.
Remember that soft, porous surfaces contaminated with mold almost certainly need to be thrown away and replaced. Carpets and rugs are nearly impossible to get completely mold-free.
While mold remediation can be a dirty, time-consuming process, it is not impossible for the average homeowner to deal with. Keep in mind that mold spores are everywhere, so you do not need to eradicate every last spore. Removing all visible mold, thoroughly drying the area and resolving whatever caused the moisture to begin with are the key steps in removing mold. A thorough wipe down with a damp cloth and a HEPA vacuum can accomplish most of your mold removal needs.
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Is There Another Way
There are a variety of other methods you can use to remove moisture from the air besides a dehumidifier. One of the biggest ones is to improve indoor ventilation so moisture does not become concentrated in one room. Again, this is an issue in bathrooms, which tend to be closed off and filled with running water and heat. If there is a window in the bathroom, open it before, during, and after showers to keep the humidity comfortable. You can also add more fans and vents throughout the home to make sure water vapor moves out and doesnt stay in.
Another simple trick is to check the air conditioning. Most units have multiple settings, and one of them will allow you to move a switch to Dry, which helps suck moisture out of the environment and give you fresh, dry air. You can also avoid running the shower, dishwasher, and dryer for long periods of time, and can even make your own DIY dehumidifier.
Boost Your Immune System
These will help to boost your immune system to speed up the detoxification of harmful substances.
You can usually find probiotics in fermented food, like miso, kimchi, cheese, and even pickles! Of course, yoghurt is a go-to for people who need probiotics.
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How To Remove Black Mold From Air Ducts And Vents
Removing mold that has begun growing inside air vents can be a challenge. Some experts recommend using ozone, but the CDC and other agencies have warned that this method of removing mold can be damaging to the respiratory system. Mold can be killed with a mixture of one cup of bleach per gallon of water, but chances are good that you wont be able to reach the mold deep inside the duct work of the home. Instead, you can follow these steps to kill mold in air vents:
Step 1: Have the substance you suspect to be black mold tested to be sure that it is actually this type of fungus. You can avoid a potentially time consuming and costly cleanup with this simple test.
Step 2: Identify the main cause of the mold in your home. Wet wall interiors and damp baseboards can contribute to mold. Identify and treating the main cause of mould will ensure the problem doesnt reoccur.
Step 3: Check the insulation surrounding the ductwork. If the mold in your air vents has extended into the surrounding insulation, you will need to replace this material.
Step 4: Clean the interior of the air vents using a professional cleaner who has been recognized by the NADCA. Since improper removal of mold can be a waste of time, and money, you will want to choose someone who has experience and specialized knowledge in removing fungus.
What Type Of Mold Grows In Air Conditioners
There are thousands of types of mold. Of these, the most common types of mold found in air conditioners and ductwork include:
- Aspergillus: a genus of mold fungus prone to triggering allergic reactions and illness in people with weak immune systems.
- Cladosporium: a very common genus of mold with a green to black appearance, often relatively innocuous though it can still trigger allergic reactions and worsen asthma.
- Stachybotrys chartarum: known as black mold or toxic mold, Stachybotrys chartarum is a particularly dangerous species of mold that produces poisonous mycotoxins.
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How To Get Musty Smells Out Of Towels
Towels arenât really all that different from clothing, so the tips above will serve you well if you have musty smelling towels. With towels, though, the other absolutely critical thing is to really let them dry after each use. Otherwise, youâve got a super damp cloth hanging out in your homeâand by now, you know what that means.
How Can I Remove Mold
Soap and detergents can remove mold stains but do not actually kill mold, and any mold that is left behind can quickly regrow.
Regular cleaning with a bleach-based products when used as directed can effectively kill mold as well as mildew. You should clean visible mold on nonporous surfaces with an EPA-registered bleach-based product.
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How Can You Get Rid Of Mold In Your Home
If you have severe mold in your home, its usually best to contact a mold remediation specialist. Mold can work its way into practically any nook or cranny in a house, sometimes establishing itself in attics, basements or even behind walls. Mold that is spread throughout your home often requires professional treatment.
If you have a more localized mold problem, you may be able to deal with it on your own. There are several DIY treatments for home mold that are both safe and effective. A weak mixture of bleach and water, typically one cup of bleach for each gallon of water, is one of the most commonly used methods for getting rid of mold. Other handy techniques include treating with laundry detergent, borax solution or white vinegar.
So What Is A Mycotoxin
Mycotoxins, literally fungus poison in Latin, are secondary metabolites that can be produced by molds, and are not living organisms. Mycotoxins are a byproduct of mold. Not all mold spores produce mycotoxins, but some do. So the molds that produce mycotoxins are the ones that could be categorized as toxic or poisonous, no matter what color they are.
Mycotoxins are chemical substances that can cause many health problems ranging from mild to severe. Even if you are not allergic to mold, you can be affected by mycotoxins.
To learn more about how mold affects people and pets check out our post: Health Effects of Mold What You Probably Dont Know.
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Techniques For Cleaning Surface Mold
Surface molds grow in just about any damp location, such as the grout lines of a ceramic tiled shower. They’re easy to scrub away with a mold cleaner mixture of 1/2 cup bleach, one quart of water and a little detergent. In mold remediation, the bleach in the cleaning mixture kills the mold. The detergent helps lift it off the surface so you can rinse it away and it won’t return as fast.
- Even for simple cleaning, protect yourself from contact with mold and the bleach solution by wearing a long-sleeve shirt and long pants as well as plastic or rubber gloves and goggles.
- If the mold doesn’t disappear after light scrubbing, reapply the cleaning mix and let it sit for a minute or two. Then lightly scrub again for mold remediation.
- Seal the clean surfaces when they’re thoroughly dry to slow future moisture penetration. Apply a grout sealer to tile joints to help your how to remove mold project
Note: Do not mix ammonia or any detergent containing ammonia with bleach. The combination forms a poisonous gas.