Sunday, April 15, 2001

Mold is everywhere, but can be danger when found indoors

        Microscopic mold can feed on almost any substance so the introduction of moisture into an environment is the primary predictor of mold. Keeping surfaces and materials dry is the best defense in battling mold.

        Officials at the National Center for Environmental Health (NCEH), part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), provide the following mold facts:

        Mold is everywhere. The most common indoor molds are cladosporium, penicillium, aspergillus and alternaria. Usually routine prevention and cleaning methods can prevent mold infestation.

        Most at risk from being sickened by mold are those with allergies or asthma, or otherwised compromised immune systems.

        Mold infestations can usually be seen or smelled. In most cases cleaning with diluted bleach is adequate for removal. Large mold infestations may require professional attention and caution should be taken because attempts to clean manually — without proper equipment or protection — could mean a hazardous spread of mold spores.

        • Mold prevention should include keeping humidity in the building below 50 percent, using an air conditioner or dehumidifier during humid months. Be sure the home has adequate ventilation. Clean the bathroom with mold-killing products and do not carpet areas prone to moisture or water spillage. Quickly deep-clean or replace water-damaged carpet.

        Mold experts suggest that if you suspect you are sick because of mold to contact your physician.

For help

        If you have concerns about workplace mold, contact the National Institute for Occupational Health and Safety (NIOSH) at (800) 35NIOSH.

        For concerns over mold in the home contact your local board of health or the indoor air quality office of the state's health department.

        The NCEH provides mold information on its Web site.

        The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's mold site.


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