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Molds produce tiny spores that travel through the air and either settle on surfaces to create new mold colonies or are inhaled creating allergic reactions or asthma in certain people. Molds can grow almost anywhere as long as moisture is present (including wood, paper, carpet and food). In your home, the key to controlling mold growth is controlling moisture. Walls or ceilings that are moldy may be discolored, show signs of water damage and/or have black or green spots. A musty, earthy odor or foul stench may also be noticed in an area with mold.
To prevent mold growth:
Dry areas or items that are water damaged within 24-48 hours.
Reduce indoor humidity to 30-60 percent.
Vent bathrooms, dryers and other sources or areas of your home that generate moisture to the outside.
Use air conditioners and dehumidifiers.
Use exhaust fans when cooking and cleaning.
Reduce condensation on surfaces, such as windows, piping, exterior walls, roofs and floors that get cold by installing or adding insulation.
Do not install carpet in areas of your home where moisture will likely be present, such as around sinks and bathtubs.
If you currently have a mold problem in your home measure the size of the area that is moldy. If the area is less than 10 square feet (roughly 3 feet by 3 feet) then you may be able to clean the area yourself. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has a set of guidelines to walk you through cleaning up the area safely. Those guidelines are available online at http://www.epa.gov/mold/pdfs/moldguide.pdf. Note if you or a family member has a health concern consult a health professional before beginning cleanup. Areas larger than 10 square feet, areas with significant water damage, mold problems in the heating/ventilation/air conditioning (HVAC) system or damage caused by sewage or contaminated water may require additional remediation steps. Information about mold cleanup is available online at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s website http://www.epa.gov/mold/. In addition the Kentucky Department for Public Health can provide information related to mold cleanup, questions can be directed to (502) 564-4856.
Mold. 2013. Kentucky Department for Public Health. Accessed on August 15, 2013 at http://chfs.ky.gov/dph/info/phps/mold.htm.
Mold Resources. 2012. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Accessed on August 15, 2013 at http://www.epa.gov/mold/moldresources.html.
Source: Ashley Osborne, Extension Associate for Environmental and Natural Resource Issues, University of Kentucky; College of Agriculture, Food and Environment
Educational programs of the Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service serve all people regardless of race, color, age, sex, religion, disability, or national origin.
Jane Proctor is Trimble County’s Cooperative Extension agent for family and consumer services.