September 8, 2009

Mold hurts both health and house

The only way to control indoor mold that can hurt people's health and damage a home is to control moisture levels in a home, U.S. officials say.

Mold or fungi are microscopic organisms that play a key role in the decomposition of leaves, wood and other plant debris, officials at the Environmental Protection Agency say. When excess moisture accumulates indoors mold problem areas will develop.

Depending on the sensitivity of the occupants, mold exposure can cause symptoms ranging from eye irritation, wheezing and nasal congestion to more serious respiratory ailments, EPA officials say.

Officials at CertainTeed Corporation, a developer of sustainable building products that are mold- and moisture-resistant, say the interior walls of a home, specifically the insulation and gypsum board is a good place to look for mold.

In addition, homeowners can minimize mold risk by:

-- Fixing any water leaks.

-- Cleaning hard surfaces with water and detergent and drying thoroughly.

-- Preventing condensation on cold surfaces (i.e. walls, pipes, roof, floors) by adding fiberglass insulation.

-- Avoiding carpeting where there may be a perpetual moisture problem.

-- Using dehumidifiers and air conditioners.

-- Using exhaust fans in bathroom and kitchens to remove moisture to the outside.