To Keep Mold at Bay, Maintain a Clean and Dry Home

(ARA) - The issue of mold and mildew has taken a spotlight on the national stage recently with lawsuits and media headlines popping up almost daily. The fact of the matter is mold has been around practically since the beginning of time.

During the past several years, however, increasing public attention has focused on a potential or suspected role in human illness from certain strains of mold. Indoor air quality issues and health risks have become hot button topics in regards to mold in homes and businesses.

A recent report from a medical group in Texas (one of the states hit hardest by moldaphobia) concluded this attention has been manifest not in scientific or medical publications, but rather in the press and in an increasing number of insurance claims filed for mold remediation of homes and workplaces. The Texas Medical Association, in fact, has concluded that public concern for adverse health effects from inhalation of mold spores is generally not supported in any available data to this point.

Nonetheless, lawsuits and finger pointing continue to drag mold and places where mold takes root into the spotlight without very much regard for facts at all.

Carpet, along with many other household building materials, have unwittingly become some sort of evil contributors to the rise of so-called toxic mold. People who tell you to rip up carpet and replace it with some other kind of flooring because of mold problems are not doing you any favors. The problem isn t the carpet; it s the source of the moisture.

Carpet is not the source of air quality problems in homes, businesses and schools, and in fact, has been confirmed to be a valuable asset in the battle for better indoor air quality.

Here are some facts you may want to know.

* Mold has five growth requirements:

-- Something to feed on -- paper, wood, natural fibers, even soil.

-- Moisture, which can include high humidity in the air.

-- Moderate temperatures, especially between 68 to 86 degrees.

-- Stagnant air, especially unfresh or non-circulating air.

-- Time -- typically there isn t much growth for the first 24 to 48 hours. After that, it s strictly dependent on the other four conditions above.

* Prevention and identifying the source of an indoor air quality problem is essential.

-- Mold is a direct result of moisture within a building. Find the water source and fix it immediately.

* Keep humidity levels down.

-- Make sure the HVAC system is properly maintained and working.

-- Keep fresh air circulating.

* Mold has always been around. Most of it, though unattractive, is harmless, like the kind you might find growing in the shower stall. Certain types of mold can aggravate allergies.

* Carpet is recommended for its filter-like qualities.

-- Yes, carpet has an innate ability to hold dust and other allergens, a very unique and positive feature no other floor covering can claim. It keeps allergens from being circulated into the breathing zone whereas other surfacing does not.

-- Proper maintenance, such as vacuuming, actually improves indoor air quality (CRI Green Label Vacuum Testing Program).

-- Carpet is easier and less costly to clean from a time and labor standpoint.

Mold can be a real problem for allergy and asthma sufferers and for small children and elderly adults. It reproduces by releasing huge quantities of spores -- microscopic, seed-like structures that produce even more mold. Some of those spores are small enough to remain airborne for extended periods, unless you trap them with high-efficiency vacuum filter bags or air conditioning filters.

So what should be done about mold?

The answer in three simple words is: Clean and dry. Keep things clean, keep them dry, and mold can t grow in the first place. Keeping your house clean and free of mold usually requires only normal maintenance and regular cleaning. Clean and dry are today s healthy home catchwords.

Mold can be prevented by preventing conditions needed for an ideal growing environment. Always remember: no moisture, no mold. Roof leaks or plumbing mishaps can turn small drips into big problems over time, so find the source of your moisture and get it fixed immediately.

Keeping your house clean and free of mold usually requires only normal maintenance and regular cleaning.

Courtesy of ARA