Preventing Mold Hazards In Your Home
Mold is not just unsightly but bears a number of different health risks that range from mild to severe, and in some cases, can be fatal. To avoid mold related health hazards, it is essential to prevent mold from taking hold. If it does appear, there are measures you can take to eliminate it.
Health Hazards Related To Mold
Mold presents health hazards for all humans and animals, but is especially harmful to people who suffer from allergies, have respiratory illnesses such as asthma, are immune-compromised or are elderly, infants or pregnant.
Common conditions related to mold include:
- Upper respiratory tract infections
- Sinus and nasal congestion or infections
- Difficulty breathing or chest tightness
- Sore throat and/or cough
- Skin or eye irritations
These conditions may result quickly or from extended exposure to mold. Different types of mold cause different health conditions, illnesses and disorders. If any of the common symptoms of mold exposure are present, it is important to consult a medical practitioner.
Mold spores are microscopic, which means they are invisible to the naked eye and are present in the air in every environment. This makes it nearly impossible to eliminate mold spores entirely. However, there are steps that can be taken to prevent mold growth in the home.
Air Quality — Clean air is the recommended means to minimize or eliminate mold spores in the air. Opening doors and windows to allow air to circulate will reduce the risk of mold growth and associated health hazards. Air filtration systems are ideal for removing microscopic organisms.
Moisture Control — Moisture is essential for mold spores to take hold and to actively grow. A dry home environment will prevent this from occurring. Dehumidifiers are ideal to control moisture indoors and are especially useful in humid climates.
Hygiene — Clean surfaces are less likely to provide mold with the food that it needs to continue to grow. Mold primarily feeds on dust mites, bacteria and other micro-organisms. A solution of 50/50 white-distilled vinegar and water combined in a spray bottle can be used to clean kitchen counters and bathroom surfaces. To clean grout, make a paste of water and baking soda. Use a small brush or toothbrush to dip into the paste and lightly brush into the grout. You can then spray with your vinegar and water solution. Continue to lightly brush and when finished, rinse with warm water.
Paint — Paint containing mold prevention factors will prevent it from growing. These types of paints are most effective in bathrooms and kitchens where mold growth is more common but can be used throughout the house.
Once mold has taken hold and has begun to accumulate, it can be very difficult to eliminate. It is advisable to simply throw out any items that have become affected by mold.
A few safe and natural solutions for cleaning mold without using toxic chemicals include vinegar, baking soda, tea tree oil or grapefruit seed extract.
Tea tree oil is a fungicide but has a very strong odor. To use tea tree oil, combine 2 teaspoons of tea tree oil with 2 cups of water in a spray bottle. Shake to blend thoroughly and spray onto any problem areas. Do not rinse. Let soak for about an hour until dry. You can use a damp towel to wipe clean.
White-distilled vinegar is inexpensive and is a great anti-bacterial agent. Although is has a strong odor, the smell will go away after only a few hours. You can pour the vinegar straight onto a towel and wipe onto the affected areas. Let it dry for about an hour and then use a damp towel and wipe it again. This is also a great solution to preventing mold by using it to clean surface areas once a week.
Grapefruit seed extract is odorless and can be used if you hate the smell of tea tree oil or vinegar. The acids that are in this extract penetrate the mold and will help to prevent the mold from returning. Combine 20 drops of grapefruit seed extract oil and 2 cups of water in a spray bottle. Shake to blend and spray on mold area. Leave solution on affected area for about 5 to 10 minutes and wipe away any mold residue.
Baking soda can be added with water to form a paste that you can add directly onto the affected area. Just add it and let dry. You can then lightly scrub the area using a small brush. In a spray bottle, add 1 to 2 teaspoons of baking soda to 2 cups of water and shake thoroughly so that all of the baking soda dissolves. Spray onto the area that you just cleaned. No rinsing is required.
Be aware that scrubbing or wiping mold can activate the release of spores which can exacerbate the problem, as well as, increase the health risks. Wear a mask and gloves while cleaning and ensure that clothing or other fabric items in the vicinity are washed and cleaned. Repeated cleaning may be necessary to eliminate the problem entirely. Also, make sure that you are using a well-fitting mask to avoid inhaling particles through any gaps. As for the gloves, use sturdy disposable gloves to prevent injury and irritation and so you can throw away the soiled gloves after cleaning.
It is recommended to call a mold remediation specialist if the problem is extensive or if do-it- yourself mold removal techniques fail. A specialist will be able to help identify the type of mold and use treatments to successfully eliminate the problem, lowering the risks for you and your family.
Prevention is always better than cure and to truly protect your home from mold it is important to employ mold preventative measures regularly.
R.S. Hall is the owner of several successful businesses and the publisher of the website http://www.moldremovalrescue.com, which provides solutions for mold problems.
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