MOLD IN RENTAL HOUSING
HOW DOES MOLD GROW IN THE HOME
Molds are part of the environment. Outdoors, molds play a part in nature by breaking down dead organic matter such as fallen leaves and dead trees, but indoors, mold growth should be avoided. Molds reproduce by means of tiny spores. The spores are invisible to the naked eye and float through outdoor and indoor air. Mold may begin growing indoors when mold spores land on surfaces that are wet. There are many types of mold, and none of them will grow without water or moisture.
HOW TO GET RID OF MOLD
It is impossible to get rid of all mold and mold spores indoors. Some mold spores will be found floating through the air and in house dust. The mold spores will not grow if moisture is not present. Indoor mold growth can and should be prevented or controlled by controlling moisture indoors. If there is mold growth in your home, you must clean up the mold and fix the water problem.
If you clean up the mold and don’t bother to fix the water problem most likely the mold problem will come back. Stop the water ASAP.
If you are in a rented unit, contact your landlord and DOCUMENT it. We suggest you send your landlord a certified letter if they do not have an onsite manager. Either way, document your mold issues.
• Mold Remediation Companies
• California Mold Guide
• Florida Mold Guide
• New York City Mold Guide
MOLD and YOUR HEALTH
Molds are usually not a problem indoors, unless mold spores land on a wet or damp spot and begin growing. Molds have the potential to cause health problems. Molds 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. Allergic responses include hay fever-type symptoms, such as sneezing, runny nose, red eyes, and skin rash (dermatitis). Allergic reactions to mold are common. They can be immediate or delayed. Molds can also cause asthma attacks in people with asthma who are allergic to mold. In addition, mold exposure can irritate the eyes, skin, nose, throat, and lungs of both mold-allergic and non-allergic people. Symptoms other than the allergic and irritant types are not commonly reported as a result of inhaling mold. Research on mold and health effects is ongoing. This brochure provides a brief overview; it does not describe all potential health effects related to mold exposure. For more detailed information consult a health professional. You may also wish to consult your state or local health department.
Who should do the cleanup depends. Consider the size of the mold problem. If the moldy area is less than about 10 square feet (less than a 3 ft. by 3 ft. patch) you may be able to handle the job, following some guidelines below.
1) If there has been a lot of water damage, and/or mold growth covers more than 10 square feet, consult EPA’s Mold Remediation in Schools and Commercial Buildings. Although focused on schools and commercial buildings, this document is applicable to other building types.
2) If you decide to hire a contractor to do the cleanup, see if the contractor has experience cleaning up mold. Check references and ask the contractor to follow the recommendations in EPA’s Mold Remediation in Schools and Commercial Buildings, the guidelines of the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygenists (ACGIH), or other guidelines from professional or government organizations. There are many companies that advertise services.
Your Heating and Air Conditioning Vents and Mold
– If you suspect that the heating/ventilation/air conditioning (HVAC) system may be contaminated with mold (it is part of an identified moisture problem, for instance, or there is mold near the intake to the system), consult EPA’s guide Should You Have the Air Ducts in Your Home Cleaned? before taking further action.
Do not run the HVAC system if you know or suspect that it is contaminated with mold – it could spread mold throughout the building. NOT ALL COMPANIES WILL DO ALL THE WORK.
– If the water and/or mold damage was caused by sewage or other contaminated water, then call in a professional who has experience cleaning and fixing buildings damaged by contaminated water.
– If you have health concerns, consult a health professional before starting cleanup.
HOW TO CLEAN UP MOLD?
• Fix plumbing leaks and other water problems as soon as possible. Dry all items completely.
• Scrub mold off hard surfaces with detergent and water, and dry completely.
• Absorbent or porous materials, such as ceiling tiles and carpet, may have to be thrown away if they become moldy. Mold can grow on or fill in the empty spaces and crevices of porous materials, so the mold may be difficult or impossible to remove completely.
• Avoid exposing yourself or others to mold : What to Wear When Cleaning Moldy Areas and Hidden Mold are both EPA LINKS..
• Do not paint or caulk moldy surfaces. Clean up the mold and dry the surfaces before painting. Paint applied over moldy surfaces is likely to peel. Mold will still exist and grow. Remove old caulk.
• If you are unsure about how to clean an item, or if the item is expensive or of sentimental value, you may wish to consult a specialist. Specialists in furniture repair, restoration, painting, art restoration and conservation, carpet and rug cleaning, water damage, and fire or water restoration may be found on the Internet. Phone Book or use our Mold Search Tool.
Be sure to ask for and check references. Look for specialists who are affiliated with professional organizations as a guide.
TEN THINGS TO KNOW ABOUT MOLD
1. Potential health effects and symptoms associated with mold exposures include allergic reactions, asthma, and other respiratory complaints.
2. There is no practical way to eliminate all mold and mold spores in the indoor environment; the way to control indoor mold growth is to control moisture.
3. If mold is a problem in your home or school, you must clean up the mold and eliminate sources of moisture.
4. Fix the source of the water problem or leak to prevent mold growth.
5. Reduce indoor humidity (to 30-60% ) to decrease mold growth by: venting bathrooms, dryers, and other moisture-generating sources to the outside; using air conditioners and de-humidifiers; increasing ventilation; and using exhaust fans whenever cooking, dishwashing, and cleaning.
6. Clean and dry any damp or wet building materials and furnishings within 24-48 hours to prevent mold growth.
7. Clean mold off hard surfaces with water and detergent, and dry completely. Absorbent materials such as ceiling tiles, that are moldy, may need to be replaced.
8. Prevent condensation: Reduce the potential for condensation on cold surfaces (i.e., windows, piping, exterior walls, roof, or floors) by adding insulation.
9. In areas where there is a perpetual moisture problem, do not install carpeting (i.e., by drinking fountains, by classroom sinks, or on concrete floors with leaks or frequent condensation).
10. Molds can be found almost anywhere; they can grow on virtually any substance, providing moisture is present. There are molds that can grow on wood, paper, carpet, and foods.