How to manage mold in your home to prevent health issues
Updated: Sep 22
Wednesday, August 26, 2020 1:30am(by heraldnet.com
August is Air Quality Awareness Month, so in this column I will share some tips about how to protect the air in your home from mold. Mold is a very scary idea to many of my patients. This is understandable, as mold can be this illusive, undetected problem until you and your family are experiencing health repercussions. Mold has been associated with a variety of health problems, including hay fever-like symptoms (sneezing, runny nose, red eyes, skin rashes), asthma and other respiratory issues. Often times, the more out of our control a health problem appears, the more anxiety it can give us. Well, I am here to tell you that there are many ways to decrease the risk of mold in your home that are well within your control.
It’s important to be aware that mold spores are everywhere. We are breathing them in and interacting with them all the time. So, mold management at home is not about eliminating mold altogether, but decreasing environments that cause molds to grow excessively.
Understand that not all molds are associated with serious health consequences. In fact, many molds and fungi are our friends. Your favorite fermented foods are made possible by molds and fungi.
The first step in controlling unwanted mold in your home is to get rid of excessive moisture. If you suspect that you have a leak in your plumbing, do not ignore this. Hire a contractor to assess and correct any leaking pipes as soon as possible. Promptly clean up water spills and do not allow moist objects to sit without sufficient air circulation.
If furnishings or carpets get wet, use a space heater and good ventilation to help them dry as soon as possible. When showering, run the ventilation fan or keep a window open. If possible, it can be a great idea to open all your windows and doors periodically to freshen the air within your home.
Because our state gets so much rain, it also can be a great investment to purchase a home dehumidifier. Ideally, keep indoor air humidity between 30% to 50%.
If you see mold or suspect you are being exposed to mold, try not to panic. The key is to limit your exposure and address the problem quickly. To correct the problem, you need to not only clean the area, but you also need to remove the source of excessive moisture.
It’s important to wear protective equipment when cleaning mold, particularly an N95 face mask, long rubber gloves and goggles. You’ll want to clean mold as soon as possible with soap and water, and then allow the surfaces to fully dry. If the area of mold is larger than 10 square feet, you may benefit from having things cleaned by a professional.
Items that have been damaged by mold are best disposed of. Items with sentimental value may be salvageable by working with a mold cleaning expert. It is possible that there are areas of mold that you cannot see, so if you have any doubts about your ability to clean the surfaces yourself, it is advised to get a contractor to help.
The vast majority of my patients with acute mold exposure have their allergic symptoms resolved after a few weeks to months of getting rid of the mold.
Remember that there are mold spores in your home right now, but if you limit environments that help them grow, these are not an issue. And, even if you find mold in your home, there are proper clean-up techniques that can be utilized to address the problem.
Dr. Lauren Gresham is a naturopathic physician and a community health education specialist. Learn more about her by visiting www.totallylovablenaturopathic.com.