A lot of people have had terrible experiences with molds. We all find horror when we discover a piece of food item in the fridge rotting with molds.
It is a fact that molds can grow anywhere—in your clothes, in your carpet, and in your furniture, to name a few. The growth of molds has caused problems especially for parents who want to build a home that is safe for their kids and other family members. It is only imperative that we educate ourselves on how molds develop and how we can prevent them from growing.
Mold pollution is common in almost any home, work place, or any indoor areas. While we have all been told that mold development is very high in areas with high moisture content, there are cases wherein it can also take place in other areas such as old papers, old clothes and shoes, and wood.
It is common knowledge that in order to prevent molds from growing, we should see to it the moisture in our areas of focus should be our number one concern. Molds can also cause illnesses like asthma, allergies, and other respiratory problems. This article will discuss the basics on molds and how to save yourself and your family from the danger of mold allergy.
What are molds?
Molds are members of kingdom fungi that frequently proliferate in food or in areas that have high moisture content. Commonly found in the kitchen and comfort rooms, mildew is a form of mold that is usually found in areas that are usually wet and moist. This commonly looks white or grayish in color.
In general, a mold is a living organism that has its own way of supporting its life by thriving in any type of season, environment, or weather condition.
Molds develop into three types: allergenic molds, pathogenic molds, and toxigenic molds.
- Although allergenic molds do not come with life-threatening impacts, they are the most common to thrive in your home.
- Pathogenic molds, on the other hand, are the ones that usually cause infections especially if a person has a very weak immune system. This type of mold has the ability to grow in a person’s lungs and may cause chronic lung diseases when not treated immediately.
- Toxigenic molds are the most dangerous as they are the ones that produce high levels of mycotoxins that can cause serious health problems on any person exposed.
The most common molds that we encounter are Alternaria, Aspergillus, Cladosporium, most of which are usually found indoors. Black mold (Stachybotrys chartarum) is the type that is found in homes, especially in areas that are frequently damp like the kitchen, comfort room, garage, and areas near the garden. You may also find them in areas that do not allow for easy access for air, and those that do not have an exhaust.
Molds may be carried by pets or may be attached to clothing, shoes, and other things we wear outside our homes. They may also freely pass through the windows or vents.
They may appear as spots or a cotton-like material, and may also come in different colors. Molds are identified by the musty odor that they carry.
Other forms of molds that are not easily seen by the naked eye usually develop in carpets, at the small spaces between walls and closets or cabinets, and in walls covered by wallpapers.
Although molds are usually thought of as organisms that bring negative health effects to humans and animals, these organisms play a vital role in the natural decomposition of dried leaves, dead trees, and other organisms.
How and where do molds grow?
Molds grow and develop in a variety of conditions, and that is why they are easily found in almost all places. These organisms have the ability to reproduce in tiny spores which they form, and these spores are not visible to the naked eye.
Mold spores can easily adapt to varying weather conditions, and may grow and develop everywhere at anytime of the day. They can freely travel with air, or attach to any material. When these spores successfully attach to areas or surfaces that have high moisture content, this is where they can proliferate and thrive.
What are the health risks that molds cause?
Molds can cause major health issues, specifically on the respiratory system. Since they can produce substances that are potently allergic, these organisms can cause serious problems especially to people who have respiratory issues and are highly sensitive to allergens.
A mold itself is not poisonous. However, because it has the ability to produce mycotoxins, these substances make molds toxic and poisonous to humans.
The most common health risks of molds include allergies, cough, itchy eyes and throat, skin irritation, asthma attacks, and difficulty breathing.
In severe cases, human exposure to molds may also cause hematologic and immunologic disorders, pulmonary injury, neurotoxicity, gastrointestinal and cardiac illnesses, among others. Molds can be deadly especially for people who have lengthened exposure to it.
Generally, the people who have high risk to mold allergy and the other health issues it may cause are those that have lung diseases, infants and the elderly, and people who have very weak immune systems due to infection, cancer, or those undergoing chemotherapy.
How Can I Test For Molds in a Given Area?
There are available test kits in the market that can be used for your testing procedure needs. It is highly suggested that before you seek a third-party service provider to get rid of your mold problem, make use of these kits first to give you an idea of your home’s environment.
Quick Mold and Allergen Testing Kit for Any Indoor Environment is a testing kit that is very easy to use. It is similar to litmus paper, turning into other colors if molds are found to be positive. This can be used as investigative test or initial evaluation of sample of mold growth. With its 12-month shelf life, you would not think twice if the kit is safe to use because the reagents that it comes with are non-toxic and non-hazardous.
Mold Testing Kit comes with a sterile swab and a sample dust collector. Data gathered by the kit may be analyzed in a specialized laboratory, which can identify what types of molds are present in your home. The level of toxicity may also be identified per mold type. It is recommended that two kits be used to test both outdoors and indoors just to give you an idea of the whole environment around your home.
Envirocheck Indoor Air Quality Home Test Kit is an efficient tool for testing the air quality by specifically tracking the levels of mold, bacteria, yeast and fungus, carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide, and formaldehyde. The kit comes with testing materials such as petri dishes, tubes, and a detailed list of instructions on how to go about the test. This kit is able to provide you with details on the quality of your indoor environment, and will help you decide if your home needs to be tested and investigated by experts.
Tips on Preventing the Growth of Molds in Your Home
The development of molds may not be one of the primary concerns of homeowners. However, molds may cause issues much greater than bad odors or its unwanted presence, and so its proliferation should also be prevented by doing the following:
Control the dampness of your homes
Let the sunlight in by opening windows and keeping your curtains up once in a while. Turning on your fans can also help the air flow indoors to outdoors.
Avoid too much carpets
Homes look good with carpets, especially in cold temperatures. However, areas underneath these beautiful pieces are the favorite dwelling places of molds.
If you really cannot resist putting rugs and carpets in your living room, make sure that you clean them regularly. Also avoid keeping your carpets in humid areas such as in your basement or near your bathroom.
Check your plumbing
Leaks in your plumbing can result to excessive moisture build-up. You know what molds like—too much moisture! Always include in your regular home maintenance the monitoring of your plumbing. Damages should also be fixed immediately to prevent molds from developing.
Monitor indoor humidity
It is recommended that a humidity of 30 to 60 percent be maintained indoors to prevent molds from developing. The easiest way to detect humidity in your home is by buying your own humidity measurement instrument. This way, you will be able to do the necessary actions on certain areas where humidity is an issue.
Dry wet areas immediately
Do not just let windows, tables, and kitchen tiles dry by themselves. Always make it a habit to wipe wet areas off in order to prevent molds from developing. Wet areas eventually turn to damp areas—the best condition for your indoor molds!
Monitor your indoor plants
Sure, your indoor plants help in giving you healthy air to breathe. However, moisture in the soil is also an effective breeding ground for your molds. It is recommended that a small amount of tea be added to the water that you pour onto your indoor plants to prevent molds from growing in the soil.
There is no way to completely eliminate molds, but there are many ways to prevent their massive growth in your home. Since we know that these organisms may result to health risks, we should be more mindful of the conditions where they thrive.
If you suspect that your home is positive for molds and that your family’s quality of life might eventually be compromised, do not think twice in seeking the help of experts to immediately help you resolve your concern.
Most importantly, if you or any of your family members might have caught mold allergy, immediately consult your physician so that the proper medication will be given to you to prevent the case from worsening.