By Perry Solice
Molds can be found almost anywhere; they grow on virtually any organic substance, as long as moisture and oxygen are present. If mold is a problem in your home, clean up the mold and get rid of the excess water or moisture. Molds can grow on wood, paper, carpet, foods, and insulation. When excessive moisture accumulates in a building or on building materials mold growth will occur, particularly if the problem remains undiscovered or unaddressed. It is impossible to eliminate all mold spores in the indoor environment. However, mold growth can be controlled indoors by controlling the moisture problem.
Molds are not usually a problem indoors unless the spores land on wet or damp areas and begin growing. They are a part of the natural environment and reproduce by tiny spores. These spores are invisible to the naked eye and float through the outdoor and indoor air. Indoor mold growth can and should be prevented or controlled by the moisture problem. Once detected in your home, you must clean up the mold and fix the water problem. Causes of mold growth includes leaky roof, windows, doors or dampness under the house. Also, other places to find mold growth is the bathroom, where the walls, shower are always damp. This can be controlled by increasing the ventilation and cleaning more frequently. Last, you may also keep a check on your heat/air condition system which at times, can be contaminated with mold growth. These spore can be transmitted through the air causing breathing issues.
Mold is not always visible and sometimes detected by an odor or mildew smell in a house or building. This is called hidden mold and found in places such as the back side of dry walls, paneling, and top side of ceiling tiles, underside of carpets and around pipes. Investigating these problems can be difficult and may require caution with disturbing the sites of mold growth. If you think you have hidden mold you may want to consider hiring an experienced professional for removal.
The key to mold control is moisture signs, therefore fixing any plumbing leaks and other water problems as soon as possible. Dry all items completely. Use detergents (not chlorine bleach) and water to remove mold from most any surface. Absorbent materials such as ceiling tiles, carpet may be thrown out because reoccurrence of mold growth and difficulty of removing mold spores. During the cleanup avoid exposing yourself or others to mold. It is suggested that you wear an N-95 respirator available at many hardware stores. These respirators traps most of the spores and protect your breathing.
Again, if you have mold, smell or been exposed to mold, find the problem and fix it soon. In some cases you may be able to clean the mold yourself and in larger areas you may consult a professional to remove and fix the moisture problems.
The Sampson County Environmental Health Section does not conduct mold inspections but can assist anyone with the cleanup of mold issues via websites and other specialists/contacts. For further information, please feel free to contact our office at 910-592-4675.
(Perry Solice works with the Sampson County Health Department, Environmental Division.)