Allergic responses to mold exposure can include neurological reactions. ACN receives frequent requests for ideas on how to avoid mold growth when a sensitivity has been found through allergy testing or by observaton of increased symptoms, particularly hyperactivity, mental fogginess, and/or tics.
This information is compiled from material by the Environmental Protection Agency. If your home has a mold problem, you may need to consult a certified mold remediation expert for advice, and moving may be advisable in some cases.
Ways to Control Moisture in Your Home
- Fix leaks and seepage. If water is entering the house from the outside, your options range from simple landscaping to extensive excavation and waterproofing. (The ground should slope away from the house.) Water in the basement can result from the lack of gutters or a water flow toward the house. Water leaks in pipes or around tubs and sinks can provide a place for mold to grow.
- Put a plastic cover over dirt in crawl spaces to prevent moisture from coming in from the ground. Be sure crawl spaces are well-ventilated.
- Use exhaust fans in bathrooms and kitchens to remove moisture to the outside (not into the attic). Vent your clothes dryer to the outside.
- Turn off certain appliances (such as humidifiers or kerosene heaters) if you notice moisture on windows and other surfaces.
- Use dehumidifiers and air conditioners, especially in hot, humid climates, to reduce moisture in the air, but be sure that the appliances themselves don’t become sources of biological pollutants. Reduce indoor humidity to 30-60% to decrease mold growth.
- Raise the temperature of cold surfaces where moisture condenses. Use insulation or storm windows. (A storm window installed on the inside works better than one installed on the outside.) Open doors between rooms (especially doors to closets which may be colder than the rooms) to increase circulation. Circulation carries heat to the cold surfaces. Increase air circulation by using fans and by moving furniture from wall corners to promote air and heat circulation. Be sure that your house has a source of fresh air and can expel excessive moisture from the home.
- Pay special attention to carpet on concrete floors. Carpet can absorb moisture. Use area rugs that can be taken up and washed often. In certain climates, if carpet is to be installed over a concrete floor, it may be necessary to use a vapor barrier (plastic sheeting) over the concrete and cover that with sub-flooring (insulation covered with plywood) to prevent a moisture problem.
- Evaporative coolers used in the Southwest can encourage the growth of mold. In other hot regions, the use of air conditioners that cool the air too quickly may prevent the air conditioners from running long enough to remove excess moisture from the air. The types of construction and weatherization for different climates can lead to different problems and solutions.
- Clean and dry any damp or wet building materials and furnishings within 24-48 hours to prevent mold growth.
Although a substance may look like mold, a positive determination of whether it is mold or not can be made only by an expert and may require laboratory analysis for final confirmation. For about $50, some microbiology laboratories can tell you whether a sample sent to them on a clear strip of sticky household tape is mold or simply a substance that resembles it. [Editor: Air samples can also be taken.]
If you have insulated air ducts and the insulation gets wet or moldy, it cannot be effectively cleaned and should be removed and replaced.
Do not install carpeting where there is a perpetual moisture problem. Molds can grow on wood, paper, carpet, and foods whenever moisture is present.
Check the epa.gov website for more details.