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Facts about Molds

Mold and other indoor air pollutants affect everyone differently. This site is not intended to offer any medical advice concerning mold or any other indoor air pollutant. Contact your healthcare provider for all health concerns.

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Things You Should Know About Mold

Mold spores are present both indoors and outdoors. When these spores land in moisture-rich environments, they begin growing and digesting the material they land on. Given the right conditions, mold can grow just about anywhere, including on wood, paper, carpet, and even plastic. If your home is too damp or if water accumulates indoors, mold will become a serious problem if left untreated or undiscovered.

Some molds are more harmful than others and should be tested by professionals immediately. Regardless of the type of mold growing in your surroundings, common health concerns and symptoms associated with mold exposure include:

  • sinus infection
  • asthma and other respiratory symptoms
  • headaches
  • congestion
  • fatigue
  • fibromyalgia

Before you attempt to remove any mold yourself, please consult with an expert. Some mold types, such as black mold, are highly toxic and should be remediated only by professionals.

The most effective way to eliminate mold and mold spores inside your home, office, or school is to control moisture. Identify and repair any source of leaks or ponding water indoors, and remove excess moisture from the air with a dehumidifier.

Reduce indoor humidity to decrease mold growth

The ideal humidity level is between 30 and 60 percent to curb mold growth in your home. You can reduce indoor humidity by:

  • Venting bathrooms, clothes dryers, and other moisture-generating sources to the outside
  • Using air conditioners and dehumidifiers
  • Increasing ventilation throughout the property
  • Using exhaust fans whenever you cook, wash dishes, or clean

How to minimize moisture in your home

  • Clean and dry any damp or wet building materials and furnishings within one or two days to prevent mold growth.
  • Clean mold off hard surfaces with water and detergent and dry them completely. Replace any absorbent materials that are moldy, such as ceiling tiles.
  • Reduce the potential for condensation on cold surfaces (windows, piping, exterior walls, roof, or floors) by adding insulation.
  • Avoid installing carpet in areas where moisture is perpetually present (drinking fountains, classroom sinks, or concrete floors with leaks or frequent condensation).

Do You Have Mold in Your Air Ducts?

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The merits of cleaning your air ducts have been met with mixed reactions. If mold is growing in your air ducts, it needs to be addressed immediately and may even require the insulation to be replaced. The source of the mold must be found and treated to prevent recurring mold growth. While it is still unclear whether or not cleaning the air ducts regularly will have a substantial impact on your health and home environment, it’s a good idea to, at the very least, have your ducts inspected if you or your family suffer from allergies or other health problems.

Call a professional

After a quick visual inspection, if you think you may have large deposits of dust or mold in your air ducts, or if you smell a musty odor coming from the ducts, call a professional to have your air ducts inspected and tested for potential mold growth. While a substance may appear to be mold, only an expert can confirm it with lab testing. If you decide to have your air ducts cleaned, make sure you hire a professional who will complete the job properly. Improper cleaning could lead to more serious problems.

Use your best judgment

Remember that it is normal for the return registers to get dusty, since dust-filled air passes through the grate. This amount of dust does not necessarily indicate your air ducts are contaminated with large amounts of dust or debris. Registers can be vacuumed or removed and cleaned. If no one in your household experiences severe allergies or unexplained symptoms of illness, you most likely do not need to have your ducts cleaned. If you are concerned about your health, talk to your doctor to determine if your symptoms may be related to your home environment.

Mold in Iowa can pose a number of hazards as well as health issues. The only way to know for sure if your home, office, or school has a mold problem is to schedule an assessment.