What is mold?
Molds are fungi, a group of very common organisms that also includes mushrooms and yeasts. Molds are generally found in nature and are carried indoors from the outside. More than 270 species of mold have been identified in Canadian homes.
Molds can grow indoors in wet or damp areas, including wallpaper, ceiling tiles, carpets (especially those with jute backing), insulation material, wood and drywall.
What are the health effects of mold?
Most common types of molds are generally not harmful to healthy individuals. However, exposure to mold can cause reactions depending on overall health, age and the amount of time an exposed person spends in the home.
The elderly, pregnant women, infants and young children, people with allergies, chronic respiratory illness and/or chemical sensitivities and those with weakened immune systems are most likely to experience health effects from mold.
The most common health problems associated with exposure to mold are:
Eye, nose and throat irritation.
Runny nose, sinus congestion, frequent cold symptoms.
Increased asthma attacks or other breathing related problems.
Allergic reactions to Skin, etc.
Anyone experiencing any of these symptoms should consult a physician.
How can I prevent mold from growing in my home?
Avoid excessively high and prolonged humidity and dampness in the home.
Limit the use of humidifiers. When using a humidifier, follow the manufacturer’s maintenance instructions. Limit the number of fish tanks and indoor plants as these can raise the humidity level in your home. Administer proper ventilation regimes.
Turn on exhaust fans, particularly when bathing, showering, cooking and doing laundry.
Open windows when weather permits.
Control moisture by repairing all leaks and plumbing problems soon as they appear.
Thoroughly clean and dry water-damaged carpets and building materials. Discard material that cannot be cleaned and properly dried.
What should I do if I have mold?
Small Areas: Small areas of mold can be cleaned using a household cleaner. A small area is fewer than three patches, with each patch less than three feet by three feet in size.
Scrub the area with detergent (preferably an unscented detergent).
Sponge with a clean, wet rag and dry quickly and thoroughly.
Always wear personal protective equipment, including a disposable dust mask (3M 8210 or equivalent) and household rubber gloves, when using any cleaner or chemical.
Larger Areas: Areas of mold larger than three patches (each patch more than 3 feet by 3 feet in size) should be cleaned by professionals. Professional help can be found under Environmental Services in the Yellow Pages.
In all cases, the underlying cause of water accumulation or prolonged high humidity must be corrected or mold will continue to grow or reoccur. Regularly inspect your home for signs of moisture problems or water damage (musty odours, condensation, and discoloration).