The key to mold control is moisture control.
If mold is a problem in your home, you should clean up the mold promptly and fix the water problem.
It is important to dry water-damaged areas and items within 24-48 hours to prevent mold growth.
Molds gradually destroy the things they grow on. You can prevent damage to your home and furnishings, save money, and avoid potential health problems by controlling moisture and eliminating mold growth.
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.
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.
Inhaling or touching mold or mold spores may cause allergic reactions in sensitive individuals.
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.
For health concerns, consult a health professional or your state or local health department.
It is impossible to get rid of all mold and mold spores indoors. 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, but don't fix the water problem, then, most likely, the mold problem will come back.
Who should do the cleanup depends on a number of things.
One consideration is the size of the mold problem.
If the moldy area is less than about 10 square feet (less than roughly a 3 ft. by 3 ft. patch), in most cases, you can handle the job yourself following EPA's mold guidelines. If you have health concerns, consult a health professional before starting cleanup.
If there has been a lot of water damage and/or mold growth covers more than 10 square feet, you may choose to hire a contractor (or other professional service provider) to do the cleanup.
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.
Moisture Control is the Key to Mold Control.
You must have completely fixed the water or moisture problem before the cleanup or remediation can be considered finished.
Is sampling for mold needed?
In most cases, if visible mold growth is present, sampling is unnecessary.
Since no EPA or other federal limits have been set for mold or mold spores, sampling cannot be used to check a building's compliance with federal mold standards.
Surface sampling may be useful to determine if an area has been adequately cleaned or remediated.
Sampling for mold should be conducted by professionals who have specific experience in designing mold sampling protocols, sampling methods and interpreting results. Sample analysis should follow analytical methods recommended by the American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA), the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH) or other professional organizations.
You may suspect hidden mold if a building smells moldy, but you cannot see the source, or if you know there has been water damage and residents are reporting health problems.
Mold may be hidden in places such as:
If you believe that you may have a hidden mold problem, consider hiring an experienced professional.
Biocides are substances that can destroy living organisms.
The use of a chemical or biocide that kills organisms such as mold (chlorine bleach, for example) is not recommended as a routine practice during mold cleanup. If you choose to use disinfectants or biocides, always ventilate the area and exhaust the air to the outdoors.
In most cases, it is not possible or desirable to sterilize an area; a background level of mold spores will remain — these spores will not grow if the moisture problem has been resolved.
There may be instances, however, when professional judgment may indicate use of a chemical or biocide (for example, when immune-compromised individuals are present).
Never mix chlorine bleach solution with other cleaning solutions or detergents that contain ammonia because toxic fumes could be produced.
This Guide provides information and guidance for homeowners and renters on how to clean up residential mold problems and how to prevent mold growth.
To view or download EPA's complete guidance please go to A Brief Guide to Mold, Moisture and Your Home