Mold And Your Health

Black Mold Removal

By | Black Mold, Mold And Your Health, Mold Remediation, Mold Removal, News

Thanks to increased levels of public awareness, most homeowners now know all about the dangers of black mold. What they are often far less aware of is that unless the proper precautions are taken, undertaking black mold removal on your own can be almost as hazardous as doing nothing at all.

Black mold reproduces and spreads by releasing invisible spores into the atmosphere. Once in the air, these spores can travel throughout your house, from one room to the next, and settle on carpets, walls or other surfaces. If the conditions are favorable, the spores will start to grow and more mold will appear. One small patch left untouched or poorly dealt with can spread and ultimately infest an entire home, often in places you are unable to see.

Spores are released naturally as part of the mold’s life cycle but they can also be stirred up and sent airborne during the process of black mold removal. This is one key reason that the Environmental Protection Agency recommends that patches of mold covering more than 10 square feet should be dealt with by professional mold removal companies rather than the homeowners themselves.

Mold is a living organism and needs food to grow as well as moisture. That food source can be anything organic including wood, paper, fabric and drywall. In the process of growing, the mold can cause major structural damage to your property. It is not uncommon for people who have failed to tackle their mold problem quickly and effectively to find that they end up paying tens of thousands of dollars to repair their homes.

If the patch is small enough for you to tackle on your own, you will save a good deal of money as long as you go about it the right way. The key to effective black mold removal is to ensure you have the proper protective equipment and employ a careful step-by-step approach so that you minimize the chance of any mold being transferred to other parts of your home.

A good respirator mask, preferably with a replaceable filter which is fine enough to stop mold spores, is a good starting point. You should also wear non-porous gloves and goggles without air vents to prevent spores and debris from affecting your skin or your eyes.

When professional mold remediators are called in to deal with black mold removal, one of their first tasks is to seal off the room where the mold is present and use an air scrubber to remove all spores from the area but you don’t need professional equipment to take similar action. Doorways and windows can been sealed off with plastic sheeting while the cleaning is taking place. Pre-soaking the area of mold with a fine water spray will help reduce the number of spores than become airborne. Remember to open any available windows in the room while you are working to keep the air moving.

Once the area has been thoroughly cleaned and allowed to dry, disinfect it with a commercial product or a 1:1 vinegar and water solution to discourage the mold from returning. You should then go over the room with a vacuum cleaner fitted with a HEPA filter. This will ensure most of the remaining spores are removed from the room. Always tightly bag all rags, sponges and filters and dispose of them in an outdoor trashcan.

To ensure your black mold removal plan has been fully effective, try to keep the humidity of the affected room below 55 per cent as it is extremely difficult for mold to grow under such conditions.


Black Mold Inspection

By | Black Mold, Mold And Your Health, Mold Inspection, News

Mold is bad news no matter what color it is.  But for many homeowners, black mold is considered to be the very worst of all.

Officially known as stachybotrys, it is this greenish-black variety of mold that has been most closely associated with the most serious health effects. However, the reality is that not all black molds are toxic, and not all toxic molds are black. And while you’ll probably be headed for a mold removal project of some kind, the only way to be absolutely sure exactly which kind you have is to have it tested.

If members of your household are having persistent health problems that do not seem to be responding to treatment, have them check with their doctor about whether black mold could be a contributing factor. If it is, this will help justify the cost of bringing in a professional to do a black mold inspection, especially if no mold has been seen during a regular visual inspection.

Until the results are known, however, the best strategy is to treat all mold as if it were potentially toxic and to take all necessary precautions to avoid excessive exposure.

Home testing kits are available and are relatively straightforward to use in helping you identify exactly what kind of mold is present. The kits cost between $10 and $15 and can provide much needed assurance about just how dangerous a particular patch of mold is. Where home testing kits fail, however, is that they cannot tell you exactly how big a mold problem you are dealing with.

All mold needs moisture in order to survive which is why it is particularly common in humid areas like kitchens and bathrooms or areas that can be susceptible to damp like basements and crawl spaces.

Mold also requires a food source. This can be dirt, wood, paper or even the detritus of everyday life like pet dander, dead skin cells and deceased insects parts. This means that mold that appears on floorboards may well have penetrated down to the subfloor and joists. It means that patches that appear close to window sills could also be eating away at the nearby wallpaper. A professional mold inspection will allow you to identify such problems as early as possible and allow them to be dealt with long before the remediation costs spiral out of control.

Black Mold Inspection

If you’re intent on doing the black mold inspection yourself, ensure you are as thorough as possible. Move pieces of furniture, peel back the edges of carpets and examine ventilation ducts and wall cavities as carefully as you can. Even if you can’t see any mold, it may be worth taking samples to send off so that your findings can be confirmed.

If black mold is present, there is no need to panic. Provided you wear the proper safety gear – gloves, goggles, a respirator and ideally a disposable pair of paper overalls – you can tackle the removal of small patches of black mold yourself. But this should only be done if you are completely confident that the mold is confined to this one small area.

The biggest danger during the clean-up operations is that you may spread spores elsewhere in the house so that eventually mold will begin growing in other rooms. And even if you do manage to kill all the mold, inert spores can continue to cause health problems for all those who are allergic to them.

If possible seal off the room where you are working and once you have cleaned away the mold, go over the area with a vacuum cleaner fitted with a HEPA filter which will trap any airborne spores before they can spread.

A thorough black mold inspection followed by an equally thorough clean up can ensure the problem quickly becomes a thing of the past.


Mold Allergy Symptoms

By | Mold And Your Health, News, Videos

If you live on the planet called Earth, you are breathing in more mold spores than pollen on a daily basis.  And that means that if you have a mold allergy – even a mild one – your mold allergy symptoms can flare up at any time and make you miserable.

Mold spores are the reproductive bit of the mold cluster itself and they float all around us, looking only for a hospitable place to land where they can do what they were designed to do – break down plant and animal material and essentially compost the entire earth.  Unfortunately, now that we live in nice, toasty, airtight homes, the parts of our indoor environment that are darkest, warmest and most damp have become irresistible to mold.  And where mold grows, volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and more mold spores are released, making those of us with mold allergies quite sick.

Mold can be identified by the musty odor caused by those VOCs which also irritates your eyes, nose, and throat.  Initial signs of an allergic reaction to VOCs and spores can be sinus drainage, upper respiratory problems and coughing that lasts for weeks if not months.  In fact, when a mold allergy is severe, it can be a year round problem and can truly alter your enjoyment of life.

Serious, on-going mold infestations can cause breathing problems in people with mold allergies (especially children and the elderly) including chest tightness, shortness of breath and asthma.  Over time, these problems can lead to a scarring of the lungs from which some people may never recover.

Mold removal at its source is critical for those who suffer from a mold allergy – and the good news is that when you do remove it, most people recover quickly.  So, what should you look for and what should you do about it?

Mold Allergy Symptoms

Common mold allergy symptoms include:

  • Itching, watery eyes
  • Sneezing
  • Coughing, wheezing
  • Sinus congestion and sinus headache
  • Runny nose
  • Sore throat
  • Skin irritation including rashes and hives

More severe symptoms include:

  • Reduced lung capacity and other asthma symptoms
  • Nose bleeds
  • Chest congestion
  • Dizziness and mental confusion

A skin or blood test administered by an allergist can positively identify the presence of a mold allergy.

What to Do If You Have a Mold Allergy

Mold allergy symptoms flare up when your immune system decides that the mold spores in your environment are a threat to your survival and reacts by fighting the only way it knows how.  OTC antihistamines and decongestants can help calm your allergic response but more severe responses may require allergy shots.

In the meantime, reduce your exposure to mold by removing it and preventing its reoccurrence.

  • Remove the mold and the moisture that is feeding it, increase airflow and eliminate clutter.
  • Use exhaust fans in bathrooms and dehumidifiers in suspect areas.
  • Keep the humidity level in your home below 50%.
  • Regularly use non-toxic mold cleaning products in bathrooms and kitchens including water-dependent appliances like refrigerators and water purification systems.
  • Try to live without carpet – it’s a true safe haven for mold.
  • Use moisture absorbing chemicals under beds, in closets and under sinks.
  • Keep the place dry; clean up moisture problems like spills, overflows and floods immediately and well.

And remember that mold can grow in the craziest places so inspect everything … and don’t forget your HVAC system, washer and dryer, mattresses and pillows.