Molds don’t need much to grow – a bit of moisture, warmness and organic substances (dust is enough). What is more concerning, its spores (which are capable to turn into huge mold colonies, seen with the naked eye, in friendly environment) are floating in air everywhere around us, waiting for an opportunity to start growing, causing even bigger threat for our health or even lives. Therefore it is worth knowing about hazards connected to its existence, how to recognize and prevent it.
Are there ugly orange, brown or black spots on your walls? You can call yourself lucky, because now you are aware of the problem. But mold is often hiding under wallpapers or floors. The mold we can’t see is often recognized because of its odor, but we can also suspect it if our wallpaper, carpet or wood is changing its color or facture and our flat is not very dry. In this case it is worth to destroy a part of wallpaper or carpet and see if there is no mold under it.
Hidden mold, same as the one we can see, can slowly destroy our health. This is most important information for children, elderly people and the ones with immunodeficiency. Molds can present a health hazard to humans, of which most popular are allergic reactions and respiratory problems, also worsening asthma. They can also produce characteristic mycotoxins which can pose serious health risks to humans and animals, high levels of mycotoxins might lead to neurological problems and in some cases even death.
Clean, dry air
First of all we need to remember about fresh air (opening windows even in winter) and proper moisture level at our homes (under 60%). We should also avoid drying our laundry at home and, opening window or ventilation during cooking, so the steam won’t liquefy indoors. It is worth checking ventilation system and taking care about good, breathing insulation if it is possible – if not, maybe investing in air-dryer or dehumidifier.
Additionally, areas of leakage (both originating from inside and outside) and water damage in the home should be cleaned and dried within 24-48 hours – remember drying bathroom after every shower. All rooms (also bathroom) should be opened if it is possible, so the humidity level in one of them won’t be too high. Air circulation is most important.
Remove the cause
If it is too late, and mold domesticated in your wall, you need to get rid of it as soon as possible. Usually it is done by mechanical scrubbing off, and later spraying or painting with fungicide. But it is not everything, because we often forget to remove the cause, and mold keeps coming back. Do not paint or caulk moldy surfaces. Clean up the mold and dry (really dry!) the surfaces before painting. Paint applied over moldy surfaces is likely to peel. Porous materials, such as carpets, may have to be thrown away, because mold is capable of filling in the empty spaces and crevices of porous materials, making it impossible to remove mold completely.
Did you know, that mold will eat almost anything including wood, fabrics, plastics and even metal, but will not touch your happy meal?
Chemistry student at the University of Gdańsk, fascinated with molecular modeling. Nature enthusiast.