Use A Humidity Monitor
Lastly, put up a humidity monitor in your home. This will let you know if the humidity levels are within a healthy range. By watching over the humidity level, you can prevent your home from being a breeding ground of black molds.
On average, the ideal humidity level for household settings is 30% to 50%. Once it goes beyond 55%, your home becomes an ideal place for mold growth. This is what you need to avoid.
A humidity monitor will keep an eye on the moisture level. This way, you can act fast to fix leaks and remove other sources of dampness.
What To Do If Your Home Is Mold
First, you need to identify the source of water intrusion and fix it. A leaky roof or pipe will only create more issues after mold remediation.
Fixing an extensive mold problem is best left to professionals. When you disturb-mold infested materials, the spores and toxins spread like dandelion seeds in the wind. Attempting to tackle it yourself could make a bad problem much worse.
When looking for a professional mold remediator, some of the questions you should ask are:
- Are you certified in mold remediation? Examples of major certifying groups are the American Council for Accredited Certification and the Institute of Inspection, Cleaning, and Restoration Certification .
- How do you document your work? This should include photos of damaged areas. The company should also provide an itemized cost estimate before starting.
- How do you contain mold-contaminated areas? This generally includes using thick plastic sheeting to seal off the moldy area. Remediators also use indoor air scrubbers with high-efficiency particulate air filters. These should be vented to the outdoors.
- How do you clean your equipment? Besides air scrubbers, remediators also use HEPA vacuums. Ask what measures they take to avoid contaminating your house with their equipment. Do they change HEPA filters between jobs and sanitize their equipment?
- How do you dispose of moldy material? The moldy debris should be double-bagged before removing it from the building.
Signs A Mold Illness Is Making You Sick
When you arent feeling well, you usually assume its an allergy, cold, or the flu. However, thats not always the case. In fact, we will share research that reveals how many times when symptoms dont go away, its because of a mold allergy.
Mold can cause serious health problems when its in your living or workplace. Mold is more likely to occur in climates with a lot of humidity or rain because it is the moisture that makes a great growing environment for mold.
The Environmental Protection Agency recommends drying any wet areas within 24-48 hours to prevent mold growth. In addition to health problems, mold can destroy the surface that it grows on by deteriorating it as it might decompose if it was in a landfill left exposed to the elements. This goes for walls, flooring, ceilings, furniture, etc.
In your body, mold spores are most commonly inhaled. Mold grows by releasing spores. These are too small to be seen by the naked eye, so we, unfortunately, inhale them into our lungs.
We can also come into contact with mold through our skin. For example, you may touch a surface with unseen mold on it and then later touch your face or an open sore where the mold can get inside your body. Mold can also be in our food.
Once inside the body, mold causes health problems and can look like an illness.
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Identifying Mold In Your Home
What Are The Signs Of Mold
Mold starts out as a little spot but expands quickly. Youll usually notice it early on, unless its in an out-of-the-way location.
Mold can be black, white, spotted, or just about any color, and may appear powdery, cottony, or velvety.
If you notice a spot and arent sure if its just an old stain or a splotch of dirt, heres how to tell if it could be a sign of mold:
- It has a musty, earthy smell.
- Theres a nearby source of moisture, but not much light.
- You see warping, cracking, or peeling of whatever material its growing on.
- A drop of bleach lightens its color in a minute or two.
- Unchecked, mold will continue to grow. Dirt and old stains wont.
Having mold in your home wont necessarily make you sick. But it does have the potential to cause certain health issues.
Touching or inhaling mold spores can cause allergy-type symptoms such as:
- runny nose and congestion
- lung irritation
In many cases, you can get rid of household mold yourself. Mold can be removed with:
- commercial products
- a bleach solution of 8 ounces of bleach per 1 gallon of water
Before you begin:
- Wear protective eyewear, nonporous gloves, and a face mask or N-95 respirator.
- Never mix other cleaners or ammonia with bleach, as it can create toxic fumes.
Use a brush to scrub mold off surfaces, making sure you get it all. Porous materials, such as carpeting, furniture, and ceiling tiles, may have to be discarded. Dont paint or caulk until youre sure all the mold is gone.
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How Can I Be Exposed To Mold
People are exposed to molds every day, usually by touching or breathingthem. Because molds naturally exist outdoors and indoors, living in a totallymold-free environment is practically impossible. As molds grow, spores can bereleased into the air where they can be easily inhaled. People who inhale largenumbers of spores may get sick. Possible health concerns are an importantreason to prevent mold growth and to clean up molds in indoor environments.
Natural Ways To Deal With Black Mold Symptoms
If you already see or smell black mold, remove it immediately and thoroughly.
If youre experiencing black mold poisoning, there are thankfully some natural ways to help with your black mold symptoms, including:
1. Raw Garlic
Raw garlic has amazing antifungal abilities, which is just what your body needs when it has been exposed to black mold. Garlic helps to kill off fungi, molds and yeasts. Two to four grams of fresh garlic per day, or 600 milligrams to 900 milligrams of garlic tablets daily, is recommended for toxic mold exposure.
2. Activated Charcoal
Activated charcoal can be taken as a supplement for mold cleansing. Most people dont think about mold living in their bodies, but it can, and activated charcoal is a potent natural treatment. It traps toxins in the body, allowing them to be flushed out so the body doesnt reabsorb them. Activated charcoal is made from a variety of sources, but when used for natural healing, its important to select activated charcoal made from coconut shells or other natural sources.
Its so much more than a green pigment found in plants. Im talking about chlorophyll, which has shown an ability to protect DNA from damage caused by toxic molds like aflatoxin. Chlorophyll also has antibacterial and antifungal properties, making it a highly recommended part of any healthy diet, but especially one that is looking to fight black mold symptoms.
4. Cut Down or Cut Out Sugar
5. Identify the Moisture Source
6. Fix the Source
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How To Remove Black Mold
Protect yourself. You don’t need to worry about having mold tested if you find mold in your house. But you should get rid of it no matter what type of mold it is. Take precautions to protect yourself before you attempt to remove mold.
Use an N-95 face mask to avoid breathing in mold spores. Wear gloves to protect your hands and goggles without ventilation holes to protect your eyes.â
Find and destroy the mold. The most important part of removing mold is finding and removing its water source. Mold can’t grow without moisture. Keep the following tips in mind when you’re cleaning up mold:
- Items that can’t be dried quickly should be discarded if they show signs of mold or water damage. Porous items such as carpet, padding, drywall, and paper soak up moisture.
- Do not paint or caulk over moldy surfaces. Remove the mold and dry the surfaces before you paint. Paint applied over mold will peel.
- Use plastic sheeting to block an area with mold from the rest of your house and keep the spores from spreading.
- Scrub hard surfaces with mold with detergent and water and dry them thoroughly.
- Put any moldy items in a plastic bag before you take them out of the room to prevent mold spores from spreading.
- Use a HEPA filter in your air conditioner and furnace to capture mold spores that may be airborne in your house.
- Consult a specialist if you’re not sure of the best way to clean a valuable or sentimental item.â
What Are Microbial Volatile Organic Compounds
Another source of irritation from mold exposure comes from substances knownas microbial volatile organic compounds . These compounds are producedthrough fungal metabolism and are released directly into the air, often givingoff strong or unpleasant odors. Exposure to mVOCs from molds can irritate theeyes and respiratory system and has been linked to symptoms such as headaches,dizziness, fatigue, nasal irritation and nausea. The effects of mVOCs are notcompletely understood and research is still in the early stages.
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How Can I Check For Mold
Its best to hire a professional to help you identify and remove mold, especially if youre allergic or vulnerable to it.
You should also consider hiring help if the mold covers more than 10 square feet, or if its hidden behind wallpaper, ceiling tiles, or other areas.
Here are some steps for identifying and removing mold.
Dont Give Mold A Chance To Grow My Tips To Prevent Mold:
- Keep indoor humidity between 40-60 percent.
- Use top-load washers. Front loaders are more prone to mold since they collect water which allows mold to grow.Let the washer dry out completely before you close the lid.
- Use an oscillating fan after you shower. Helps to dry all wet areas when youre out of the shower.
- New houses can have mold issues too. People are often surprised to learn that mold issues in new homes is also common. Modern building guidelines do not usually look at mold prevention as their main priority. If you have an opportunity to move to a new building, it is always best to work with reputable professionals who specialize in mold and have them inspect the home.
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How Do Doctors Diagnose Mold Allergy
To diagnose an allergy to mold or fungi, the doctor will take a complete medical history. If they suspect a mold allergy, the doctor often will do skin tests or allergen specific IgE blood tests. Extracts of different types of fungi may be used to scratch or prick the skin. If there is no reaction, then you probably dont have an allergy. The doctor uses the patient’s medical history, the skin testing results and the physical exam to diagnose a mold allergy.
How Do Molds Affect People
Exposure to damp and moldy environments may cause a variety of health effects, or none at all. Some people are sensitive to molds. For these people, exposure to molds can lead to symptoms such as stuffy nose, wheezing, and red or itchy eyes, or skin. Some people, such as those with allergies to molds or with asthma, may have more intense reactions. Severe reactions may occur among workers exposed to large amounts of molds in occupational settings, such as farmers working around moldy hay. Severe reactions may include fever and shortness of breath.
In 2004 the Institute of Medicine found there was sufficient evidence to link indoor exposure to mold with upper respiratory tract symptoms, cough, and wheeze in otherwise healthy people with asthma symptoms in people with asthma and with hypersensitivity pneumonitis in individuals susceptible to that immune-mediated condition.
In 2009, the World Health Organization issued additional guidance, the WHO Guidelines for Indoor Air Quality: Dampness and Mould pdf iconexternal icon pdf icon. Other recent studies have suggested a potential link of early mold exposure to development of asthma in some children, particularly among children who may be genetically susceptible to asthma development, and that selected interventions that improve housing conditions can reduce morbidity from asthma and respiratory allergies.
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Is Your Home Mold Toxic
Mold loves moisture. Flooding poses a significant risk for mold growth. Landscaping that slopes toward a building instead of away from it encourages water intrusion.
Something as common as a leaky roof, faucet, or dishwasher also invites mold growth. Damp basements and window condensation can also be a haven for mold.
But, how do you know for sure if you have a mold problem?
Often, you can see or smell mold but not always. You may also see areas that have visible water damage. This is a red flag for possible mold growth.
If you suspect you have a mold problem, you can start with a few simple tests yourself. Certified mold inspectors are also available but vary in quality. Heres a closer look at these options:
Regardless of how you identify a mold problem, getting rid of it is essential for your health.
Symptoms Of Mold Exposure
Mold spores can easily be brought into your home on your shoes or clothing or through open windows or doors. If these spores can find a warm, damp, humid environment, they can begin to multiply. Soon, your home can be filled with toxic mold. If you think mold has invaded your home, look for various symptoms of mold exposure.
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Home Testing For Mold
A home test for mold called ERMI screens for 36 mold species in dust samples you collect at home. Think about it as a way to test the health of your home in terms of mold.
If the type of molds found on the test overlaps with the ones found on the urine test, then we know you probably have a current mold exposure in your house. If theres no correlation, there may be other sources of exposure , or there could be a problem with mold exposure in the past.
While the ERMI can be very helpful, it doesnt tell you the location in the house where theres a mold problem. For best results, I usually advise my patients to run multiple ERMI tests: one for the basement , another test for the main floor, and another if you have a top floor.
How Do Molds Get In The Indoor Environment And How Do They Grow
Mold is found both indoors and outdoors. Mold can enter your home through open doorways, windows, vents, and heating and air conditioning systems. Mold in the air outside can also attach itself to clothing, shoes, and pets can and be carried indoors. When mold spores drop on places where there is excessive moisture, such as where leakage may have occurred in roofs, pipes, walls, plant pots, or where there has been flooding, they will grow. Many building materials provide suitable nutrients that encourage mold to grow. Wet cellulose materials, including paper and paper products, cardboard, ceiling tiles, wood, and wood products, are particularly conducive for the growth of some molds. Other materials such as dust, paints, wallpaper, insulation materials, drywall, carpet, fabric, and upholstery, commonly support mold growth.
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Different Types Of Mold
Allergenic Molds. Allergenic molds are on the low end of the danger scale. They only cause problems for those with asthma and a predisposed allergy to the specific mold. Children are more likely to have mold allergies than adults.
Pathogenic Molds. Pathogenic molds will cause some infection. This is a big problem for those with a suppressed immune system. An acute response resembling bacterial pneumonia is commonly found with those exposed to these types of mold.
Toxigenic Molds. As the name implies, these molds produce mycotoxins that can cause serious health effects. They have been tied to immunosuppression and cancer. The toxic chemicals found in these types of molds can be absorbed into the body when one inhales them, eats them, or even touches them.
Is There A Test To Determine If I Have Been Exposed To Mold
Some physicians have recommended testing for mold-specific antibodies. Thepresence of antibodies only indicates that you have been exposed to a substanceat some time. It does not tell you when you were exposed, where the exposuretook place, or how much of the mold you were exposed to. Having a positive testfor mold-specific antibodies alone is generally considered insufficient toprove that health effects reported by individuals in moisture-damaged buildingsare caused by exposure to mold.
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According To Dr Mercola The Five Most Common Indoor Molds Are:
- Alternaria: Commonly found in your nose, mouth, and upper respiratory tract can cause allergic responses.
- Aspergillus: Usually found in warm, extremely damp climates, and a common occupant of house dust produces mycotoxins can cause lung infections.
- Cladosporium: This very common outdoor fungus can find its way indoors to grow on textiles, wood, and other damp, porous materials triggers hay fever and asthma symptoms.
- Penicillium: Very common species found on wallpaper, decaying fabrics, carpet, and fiberglass duct insulation known for causing allergies and asthma some species produce mycotoxins, one being the common antibiotic penicillin.
- Stachybotrys: Extremely toxic black mold that produces mycotoxins that can cause serious breathing difficulties and bleeding of the lungs, among other health problems. Thankfully, less common in homes than the other four, but not rare found on wood or paper , but NOT on concrete, linoleum or tile.