Poor indoor air quality due to mold can impact the health of everyone in the home. Symptoms are wide spread and can be serious, ranging from allergies to seizures. We’ve all heard the terms “toxic mold” thrown around in the media, but it’s important to know that every type of mold has the potential to cause adverse health effects, whether you are allergic to it or not.
Preventing mold can be a relatively simple task once you understand what mold needs to live and thrive. Mold loves dark, damp, untroubled places with a food source. It loves wet wallpaper, carpet (particularly when installed on concrete), and soap scum. Mold can grow after just 24 hours of continuous moisture, so it is especially important to be diligent in areas prone to being wet, like in kitchens, basements and bathrooms.
Here are few tips to keep mold out of the picture:
- Indoor humidity below 40% will discourage mold growth (a digital hygrometer, available at any home supply store, can take this measurement for you.)
- Indoor plants can drastically improve air quality, but, if over-watered, they can also serve as launch pads for mold growth. Make sure to water plants only until damp and remove any standing water from drainage trays.
- Save those silica packets! Those free pouches of “DO NOT EAT” silica pellets that came with your new shoes can be reused again and again to remove excess moisture from the air. Collect and keep in an open container (and out of the reach of children) in closets, sink cupboards and bathroom drawers.
- Inspect and clean gutters and downspouts and make sure storm water is safely directed away from a home’s foundation. This will help prevent unwanted moisture and water in basements and crawlspaces.
- Make sure to run the bathroom exhaust fan while showering and for 20 minutes afterward. The fan should vent to the outside (not into the wall or attic space.)
- Increase the airflow in your home by keeping furniture away from the walls. Make sure stored items, like books, canisters and boxes aren’t pushed all the way back on their shelves. Give hanging clothes plenty of room to breathe in closets.
- Lightly crumble a newspaper page and use it to line your kitchen garbage can. It will absorb any leaks and prevent mold from camping out.
- Change your air filters regularly. Dirty air filters bog down an HVAC unit, reducing airflow and causing mold spores to stagnate or circulate. Every time you install a new filter, write the date on its exposed side so you never have to guess how long it’s been.
- Regularly disinfect garbage disposals and drain traps using vinegar and baking soda. This combination not only prevents mold, but it also keeps pipes clean and clog-free.
- Make a weekly habit of inspecting your home for potential leaks or moisture issues, particularly in trouble spots. If something smells off, it probably is.
Has mold already moved in? Whatever you do, don’t reach for bleach. There are several safe, non-toxic methods for removing mold that are easier to use and more effective in killing and removing mold spores.
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