Molds have the potential to cause health problems. They produce allergens (substances that can cause allergic reactions), irritants, and in some cases, potentially toxic substances (mycotoxins). Inhaling or touching mold or mold spores may cause allergic reactions in sensitive individuals. These may include hay fever-type symptoms, such as sneezing, runny nose, red eyes, and skin rash (dermatitis). Allergic reactions to mold can be immediate or delayed and will often happen more readily with repeated exposure. They are known to be asthma triggers in sensitive individuals. Research into the public health effects of mold is ongoing and you are advised to consult a physician if exposure to mold has adverse effects on your health.
Identifying Mold in your Home
How do I tell if I have a mold problem in my home? Investigate. The most practical way to find a mold problem is by using your eyes and nose to locate mold growth. If you see mold or if there is an earthy or musty smell, you should assume a mold problem exists. Other clues are signs of excess moisture or the worsening of allergy-like symptoms. While investigating your home:
Look for visible mold growth, which may appear cottony, velvety, granular or leathery, and have varied colors of white, gray, brown, black, yellow or green. Mold often appears as a discoloration, staining, or fuzzy growth on the surface of building materials or furnishings. Search areas with noticeable mold odors.
Look for signs of excess moisture or water damage. Look for water leaks, standing water, water stains, and condensation problems. For example, do you see watermarks or discoloration on walls, ceilings, carpeting, woodwork or other surfaces.
Search behind and underneath materials (carpets and pads, wallpaper, vinyl flooring, sink cabinets), furniture, or stored items, especially things placed near outside walls or on cold floors. Sometimes destructive techniques may be needed to inspect and clean enclosed spaces where mold and moisture are hidden; for example, opening up a wall cavity.
What can PCPH do about Mold?
At present, there are no federal or local regulatory methods or exposure limits for airborne fungal spores for indoor air quality in Ohio or the United States. Mold growth is always associated with wet or damp locations. The presence of mold indicates water is entering the structure through excessive condensation, a plumbing or structural leak or improper drainage.