Starting in the 1940s, gypsum drywall began replacing plaster and lathe in the U.S. home construction industry. Our goal was to evaluate whether some mold populations differ in water- damaged homes primarily constructed with gypsum drywall compared to plaster. The dust samples from the 2006 Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) American Health Homes Survey (AHHS) were the subject of this analysis. The concentrations of the 36 Environmental Relative Moldiness Index (ERMI) molds were compared in homes of different ages. The homes (n = 301) were built between 1878 and 2005. Homes with ERMI values > 5 (n = 126) were defined as water-damaged. Homes with ERMI values > 5 were divided in the years 1976 to 1977 into two groups, i.e., older (n = 61) and newer (n = 65). Newer water-damaged homes had significantly (p = 0.002) higher mean ERMI values than older water-damaged homes, 11.18 and 8.86, respectively. The Group 1 molds Aspergillus flavus, Ammophilus fumigatus, Aspergillus ochraceus, Cladosporium sphaerospermum and Trichoderma viride were found in significantly higher concentrations in newer compared to older high-ERMI homes. Some mold populations in water-damaged homes may have changed after the introduction of gypsum drywall.
Have you ever wondered “how does mold affect people?”
Some people are sensitive to molds. For these people, exposure to molds can lead to symptoms such as stuffy nose, wheezing, and red or itchy eyes, or skin. Some people, such as those with allergies to molds or with asthma, may have more intense reactions. Severe reactions may occur among workers exposed to large amounts of molds in occupational settings, such as farmers working around moldy hay. Severe reactions may include fever and shortness of breath.
People with a weakened immune system, such as people receiving treatment for cancer, people who have had an organ or stem cell transplant, and people taking medicines that suppress the immune system, are more likely to get mold infections.
Exposure to mold or dampness may also lead to development of asthma in some individuals. Interventions that improve housing conditions can reduce morbidity from asthma and respiratory allergies.
Mold only needs the right amount of moisture and time to grow. Mold can grow in as little as 24 hours. If you have a moisture intrusion or leak in your home it is very important to handle the matter as soon as possible.
If you feel that you may have been exposed to mold in your home call Guaranteed Property and Mold inspections to have an ACAC board certified mold inspector evaluate your home.
Sleep and mold
The World Health Organization estimates that 10% to 50% of residential homes and commercial buildings have damp conditions. That means up to 50% of buildings worldwide could provide ripe environments for mold to grow and thrive.
Mold can slowly destroy your home and your belongings. If you have a mold allergy, you can expect uncomfortable symptoms like nasal congestion, watery eyes, and more. Plus, it’s just plain gross to look at.
Of all the rooms in your home, having mold in your bedroom is one of the most high-risk, simply due to the significant amount of time you spend in there asleep, exposing yourself to mold.
Whether you own or rent your home, it’s up to you to protect yourself from mold exposure by preventing mold growth and removing it promptly whenever you find it. Keep reading to learn more about mold, how to prevent and remove it from your bedroom, and how to recognize the symptoms of mold exposure so you can enjoy mold-free sleep.
What is mold?
DEFINITIONMold is a type of fungus. It can live outdoors or indoors, any time of year, as long as it has a damp, warm environment. All it needs to thrive is humidity.
Due to their high levels of moisture, bathrooms and basements are the most likely rooms in a home to harbor mold, but mold can grow anywhere – including your bedroom.
When mold reproduces, it forms spores that travel through the air, enabling mold to spread throughout the area. These spores can survive even when they’re in a dry area not conducive to growing mold. Once the area develops moisture, the mold will grow.
There are different kinds of mold, but the ones you’re most likely to encounter at homeinclude cladosporium, penicillium, aspergillus, alternaria, and stachybotrys chartarum.
Molds vary in appearance as well as where you’re most likely to find them. For instance, stachybotrys chartarum is colloquially known as “black mold” based on its appearance. You’re most likely to spot it on paper or household surfaces that have collected dust or lint, or within the building materials, such as wood, gypsum board, or fiberboard.
|PLACES WHERE MOLD CAN GROW IN YOUR HOME|
Under sinks or around plumbing
Any area with high humidity, moisture, or water damage
In the natural world, mold serves a purpose, facilitating the decomposition of plant life like leaves and compost. When it enters our artificial world through our homes, it poses an issue. Mold exposure can be dangerous for humans and it can damage the areas or objects in your home where it grows.
Can you get sick from mold in your house?
Mold itself is not dangerous or toxic, although there are some types of mold that produce toxic mycotoxins, such as black mold. For most people, however, it is the mold allergy or sensitivity that leads to uncomfortable symptoms. Fortunately, these go away once the mold is removed.
It’s common for people to be allergic to mold, although reactions vary from mold to mold and person to person. If you have a mold allergy, you will start reacting as soon as you are exposed to the mold. People experiencing an allergic reaction may display any of the following symptoms:
|WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF MOLD EXPOSURE?|
|Watery, itchy, or red eyes
Wheezing, sneezing or coughing
In some cases, the symptoms may be more severe. According to the Institute of Medicine, indoor mold exposure has been linked with:
- Upper respiratory tract issues, coughing, and wheezing in otherwise healthy people
- Asthma attacks in people with asthma
- Hypersensitivity pneumonitis in people with compromised immune systems
A mold allergy can go from uncomfortable to dangerous for people with an already compromised immune system, such as infants and children, the elderly, and those with chronic lung disease, HIV, cancer, or liver disease.
Currently, the CDC acknowledges that indoor mold exposure may be a risk factor for asthma in young children, but more research needs to be conducted for confirmation. Likewise, research is still inconclusive as to a possible link between black mold and acute idiopathic pulmonary hemorrhage among infants and memory loss.
Because reactions can vary, and there’s no way to predict your reaction, it’s best to avoid mold growth in your bedroom and to treat it as soon as it is found.
Signs of mold in your bedroom
Unfortunately, while everyone agrees that mold poses a health risk, there are as yet no governmental guidelines for residential buildings to follow regarding acceptable levels of mold. That means it is up to you, as a homeowner or renter, to know the warning signs of mold growth in your bedroom so you can keep yourself safe.
|WARNING SIGNS OF MOLD IN BEDROOM|
|You can see visible mold (fuzzy or slick black, grey, white, or brown spots)
A musty odor is present
You and/or your sleeping partner are displaying the allergic symptoms we listed above
Recent flooding or water damage
Mold is fairly easy to spot, pun intended. You may notice spots, perhaps with a fuzzy appearance, that have a brown, gray, green or black appearance. There may be a slight musky odor, too.
If you are experiencing allergy symptoms or smell mold, but you can’t see it, look for it in harder-to-find areas, such as on or underneath your carpet, floor, or ceiling; inside your walls; around the window sills; on any upholstered furniture or your mattress; or in your air ducts.
Since mold can develop in areas you can’t see, such as inside your walls or under the carpet, it’s important to maintain mold prevention best practices in your home.
How does mold get in your bedroom?
Mold can develop anywhere that is a moist or humid environment. Depending on the climate where you live, the quality of insulation in your home, and even the location of your bedroom within your home (basement-level bedrooms are most at risk), your bedroom may be more or less likely to develop mold.
Mold spores can also enter from outside your home, through an open window, or by traveling inside on your clothing or your pets.
Mold can also develop on your mattress, due to moisture from your sweat. Mattressesinclude soft, porous materials in their construction, such as cotton covers or foam comfort layers. Any of these can absorb moisture and cause your mattress to develop mold.
If you have found mold in one area of your bedroom, do a thorough sweep to ensure it’s not anywhere else in your home, as mold can spread easily.
Is it safe to sleep in a room with mold?
No, it is not safe to sleep in a bedroom with mold. Indoor mold of any exposure is worrisome, but mold in the bedroom is especially so, simply due to the number of hours you spend in your bedroom breathing it in while you sleep.
Beyond the immediate allergy symptoms, mold exposure often cause sleep issues, too.
Can mold cause sleep problems?
Several studies have documented a link between mold exposure and sleep problems among different age groups:
- In otherwise healthy adults: A 1994 study of over 5,000 adults found that those who lived in damp housing were nearly three times more likely to report sleep problems than those in dry housing. They were also more likely to report poorer health overall, which increased according to the level of dampness in their home. Similarly, a 2005 study of over 16,000 adults found that those who lived in damp homes were significantly more likely to report insomnia.
- In children: A 2015 study of over 1,700 children compared the sleep quality of children living in damp bedrooms against those in dry bedrooms. Unsurprisingly, the children of parents who had spotted visible mold in their bedroom, as opposed to just dampness, tended to have a higher risk of sleep problems. These children were more than twice as likely to have difficulty sleeping through the night and to not get enough sleep overall (defined as 9 hours or more for children).
- In older adults: A 2015 study examined the effects of the mold odor alone on senior adults. Those who lived in buildings with a musty smell or mildew odor were more likely to have poorer overall health, including asthma attacks, skin rash, chronic bronchitis, sneezing, and sleep problems.
As the studies above make clear, the symptoms associated with mold exposure are not only uncomfortable, but, if the mold is not addressed, they can significantly lower both the quality of your sleep and your overall health.
Common sleep issues associated with mold
|MOLD-RELATED SLEEP PROBLEMS|
|Snoring or sleep apnea
When you sleep, it is essential for your body to breathe as easily as possible. Otherwise, your brain has to focus harder on keeping you breathing, lowering the quality of your sleep. As a result, people who sleep in bedrooms with mold may suffer from the following sleep problems:
- Snoring refers to any sort of noisy breathing during the night. Snoring may not wake you up, but it can cause insomnia for your sleeping partner, and it is an indication that something is disrupting the quality of your sleep. Snoring can also cause dry mouth.
- Sleep apnea is a serious form of sleep-disordered breathing where the individual literally stops breathing momentarily during sleep, resulting in a loud gasping or snoring sound while their brain catches their breath. Obstructive sleep apnea occurs from a blockage or narrowing of the airways, as can happen from the nasal congestion associated with mold exposure.
- Insomnia describes a difficulty falling or staying asleep. If you are dealing with wheezing, watery eyes, or a runny nose from mold, you may have trouble falling asleep. Meanwhile, the congestion you experience may make it difficult to stay asleep. Either way, being exposed to mold in your bedroom can result in insomnia, and prevent you from getting a full night of restful sleep.
- Sleep deprivation refers to the physical, mental, and emotional state a person is in when they have missed out on a night of full sleep (defined as 7 hours or more for adults) on a temporary or chronic basis. When we’re sleep-deprived, we’re moodier, less focused, and at increased risk of social isolation and health conditions like diabetes, obesity, and cardiovascular disease. Sleep deprivation can also occur if you are ostensibly getting enough sleep, but the sleep is not high-quality, as can be the case when you’re snoring or experiencing apneas due to mold exposure.
- Daytime fatigue is one of the most recognizable signs of sleep deprivation. When a person is fatigued, they have lower energy and motivation, and their productivity and emotional well-being suffer.
People with allergies of any kind report poorer sleep than people without allergies, and the more severe their allergic reaction, the more their sleep suffers as a result. If you are experiencing a mold allergy, you may experience more, or more extreme, instances of these sleep issues.
How do I stop mold growing in my bedroom?
The best defense against mold in your bedroom is a preventative defense. Mold spores can survive even in dry environments, so you should focus on preventing moisture from developing in your bedroom in the first place.
Follow these tips to prevent mold in your bedroom. Some of these tips you’ll want to follow on a daily basis; others can be done annually or less frequently to maintain your home and prevent mold.
Daily mold prevention tips
- Whenever water spills in your bedroom, clean and dry the area immediately.
- Keep your carpet clean with regular vacuuming and cleaning. Use a HEPA vacuum cleaner to remove spores while you clean.
- If you live in an area that’s prone to humidity, regularly run your air conditioner and ceiling fans, or use a dehumidifier to keep the inside air dry. Ideally, your indoor humidity level should be below 50%. Purchase a hygrometer so you can monitor your indoor humidity levels throughout the day.
- Keep your bedroom door open to ensure air flow circulation.
- If your bedroom is connected to a bathroom, open the window or run the exhaust fan for 30 minutes after you shower. Hang your towel afterward to allow it to dry, instead of letting it clump up on the floor or in a hamper in your closet, where mold can grow. Don’t store body wash and shampoo bottles in the shower as they can develop mold. Keep your bathroom clean, paying particular attention to the corners of your shower, under your sink, and the shower curtain.
- Your bedroom closet can be another danger spot for mold, since many clothes, like outwear, are not cleaned regularly and can bring in mold spores from the outdoors. Ensure all clothes are fully dry after cleaning them, and do not fold them or put them away until they are. If you store clothes for the winter, ensure they are dry before you seal them in a box with can trap in any moisture.
- Place bedroom furniture slightly away from the walls, to enable air flow and prevent mold growth. Wipe down all furniture regularly to remove dust.
- If you have plants in your bedroom, regularly check them for mold, particularly the soil. If you see any gray, there is mold. Scoop out the offending soil and repot the plant with new soil. To avoid mold, add anti-fungal to the soil.
Annual mold prevention tips
- Have your home inspected for water damage or faulty plumbing. Check the walls, windows, and ceilings for mold.
- Regularly maintain your air vents and clean drip pans to keep air circulating properly.
- Ensure your windows, roof, and floor are properly insulated and check them regularly. This will minimize condensation as well as prevent mold spores from entering your home.
- During colder months, keep your house warm to prevent moisture or condensation from forming.
- If your bedroom is located on a lower floor or in a basement, avoid using carpets. Use area rugs instead that you can regularly clean. Also regularly inspect outdoor areas to ensure water can’t enter your home from the outside.
- If you repaint your bedroom, add mold inhibitor to the paint or purchase anti-mildew paint.
Due to body sweat and other moisture, mattresses are one of the top spots mold can grow in your bedroom. Worse, since it’s covered with your bedding, you may not realize the mold is there.
Follow these tips to prevent mold growing in your mattress.
- Use a waterproof mattress cover. This not only prevents your mattress from the moisture of body sweat, but also from stains and other damage, helping you extend the longevity of your mattress.
- Purchase a hypoallergenic mattress. While any mattress could potentially develop mold, some mattress types are more allergy-resistant than others. All-latex beds or organic mattresses are your best options.
- Clean your mattress regularly. This is one of the best ways you can prevent mold growth, and it’s easier than you think. Read our guide for tips on how to keep your mattress fresh.
- Finally, try to sleep in a way that minimizes how much you sweat during the night. Some of us are hot sleepers, but many of us also keep our bedrooms hotter than they should be. Set your bedroom temperature to 60 to 67 degrees Fahrenheit. Sleep naked, or wear pajamas made from breathable materials. Likewise, invest in breathable bedding, and use multiple layers so you can remove any if it gets too hot.
How to remove mold from your bedroom
If you’ve found mold in your bedroom, take action to remove it immediately. It doesn’t matter what type of mold it is; it’s all bad.The action you take depends on the scope of the problem.
In cases of small mold:
- If it’s on a hard surface, such as your floor or wall, scrub vigorously with a stiff-bristled brush and cleaning product, soap and water, or a mix of 1 cup laundry bleach and 1 gallon of water. (If you use bleach, don’t mix it with any other household cleaning products, open your windows and doors, and wear protective gloves and eyewear). Ensure the area dries completely.
- If it’s on a soft surface, such as your carpet, clothes, mattress, bedding, drywall, or furniture, throw it away.
- Never handle mold with your bare hands, even when cleaning. Always use gloves.
In cases of large mold (the CDC defines this as an area of 10 square feet or larger):
- Call a mold removal professional. If the mold has spread significantly, these people are experts in identifying all areas that have been infected, and removing the mold entirely from your home. Many offer free in-home consultations, as well.
If you find mold in your mattress:
- Don’t just clean it off. Get rid of it, as per our advice for any soft-surface items with mold in your home. Here’s how to safely and responsibly dispose of an old mattress.
After you’ve removed the mold and cleaned the area, follow the mold prevention tips we outlined above to keep the area as dry as possible moving forward.
Sleep resources from Tuck
- How To Allergy-Proof Your Bedroom: Read more tips for reducing allergens in your bedroom, so you can enjoy more restful sleep.
- How to Clean a Mattress: Learn how to regularly clean your mattress, preventing mold, bed bugs, stains and more.
- The Best Natural Organic Mattress: Mattresses made from organic materials are naturally more mold-resistant. Read this buyer’s guide of the best-rated organic mattresses.
Fact sheets on mold
- The CDC Fact Sheet on Mold summarizes the latest study findings from the Institute of Medicine and provides mold prevention tips.
- The 2009 WHO Guidelines for Indoor Air Quality: Dampness and Mold were compiled by the World Health Organization, to provide governments, regulatory agencies, and building professionals and homeowners with education on the symptoms of mold exposure and how to prevent mold growth.
Study findings on mold and sleep
- “Insomnia is more common among subjects living in damp buildings” and “Damp housing and adult health” are two large-scale studies which both found a correlation between damp housing and insomnia in adults.
- “Exposure to visible mould or dampness at home and sleep problems in children”focused on children specifically, finding that children exposed to mold in their bedrooms are also more likely to have sleep problems.
- “Indoor mildew odour in old housing was associated with adult allergic symptoms, asthma, chronic bronchitis, vision, sleep and self-rated health” found that the presence of a mildew odor in senior housing correlated with poorer health and sleep outcomes.
Cleaning Up Rodent Allergens
Take precautions before and during clean up of rodent-infested areas. Before cleaning, trap the rodents and seal up any entryways to ensure that no rodents can get in. Continue trapping for a week. If no rodents are captured, the active infestation has been eliminated and enough time has passed so that any infectious virus in the rodent’s urine/droppings or nesting material is no longer infectious.
Before starting clean up of the space, ventilate the space by opening the doors and windows for at least 30 minutes to allow fresh air to enter the area. Use cross-ventilation and leave the area during the airing-out period.
On This Page
- Urine and Droppings
- Dead Rodents or Nests
- Cabins, Sheds, Barns, or Other Outbuildings
- Attics, Basements, Crawlspaces, and Other Storage Areas
- Cleaning and Disinfection of Vehicles with Rodent Infestations
- Heavy Rodent Infestation
- Air Ducts
First, clean up any urine and droppings
When you begin cleaning, it is important that you do not stir up dust by sweeping or vacuuming up droppings, urine, or nesting materials.
- Wear rubber, latex, or vinyl gloves when cleaning urine and droppings.
- Spray the urine and droppings with a disinfectant or a mixture of bleach and water and let soak 5 minutes. The recommended concentration of bleach solution is 1 part bleach to 10 parts water. When using a commercial disinfectant, following the manufacturer’s instructions on the label for dilution and disinfection time.
- Use a paper towel to pick up the urine and droppings, and dispose of the waste in the garbage.
- After the rodent droppings and urine have been removed, disinfect items that might have been contaminated by rodents or their urine and droppings.
Next, clean and disinfect the whole area
- Mop floors and clean countertops with disinfectant or bleach solution.
- Steam clean or shampoo upholstered furniture and carpets with evidence of rodent exposure.
- Wash any bedding and clothing with laundry detergent in hot water if exposed to rodent urine or droppings.
Lastly, remove gloves, and thoroughly wash hands with soap and water (or use a waterless alcohol-based hand rub when soap is not available and hands are not visibly soiled).
Wear rubber, latex, or vinyl gloves when cleaning up dead rodents or nests.
- Spray the dead rodent or nest and the surrounding area with a disinfectant or a mixture of bleach and water.
- Soak rodent, nesting materials or droppings in solution for 5 minutes before wiping up with a paper towel or rag.
- Place the dead rodent or nesting materials in a plastic bag and seal tightly. Place the full bag in a second plastic bag and seal.
- Throw the bag into a covered trash can that is regularly emptied.
Remove gloves, and thoroughly wash hands with soap and water (or use a waterless alcohol-based hand rub when soap is not available and hands are not visibly soiled).
Before attempting to clean cabins, sheds, barns, or other outbuildings, open all doors and windows for 30 minutes. This will allow fresh air to enter the work area.
- Wear rubber, latex, or vinyl gloves and clean up all rodent urine, droppings, nests, and dead rodents using disinfectant or mixture of bleach and water.
- Mop floors or spray dirt floors with a disinfectant or mixture of bleach and water.
- Clean countertops, cabinets, and drawers with a disinfectant or a mixture of bleach and water.
Before cleaning attics, basements, crawlspaces and other storage areas, it is necessary to completely remove the existing rodent infestation by trapping. When there is no evidence of infestation, wait about 5 days before beginning to clean these areas. Before cleaning the space, ventilate the area by opening the doors and windows for at least 30 minutes to allow fresh air to enter the area and to remove potentially contaminated air from the area. Use cross-ventilation and leave the area during the airing-out period.
When cleaning attics, basements, crawlspaces and other storage areas:
- Wear rubber, latex, or vinyl gloves when cleaning up urine, droppings, or nesting materials. Note that a dust mask may provide some protection against dust, molds, and insulation fibers, but does not protect against viruses.
- Spray any urine, droppings, and nesting materials with either a bleach and water solution (1 parts bleach to 9 parts water) or a household disinfectant prepared according to the label instructions for dilution and disinfection time. Soak well. This will inactivate any virus. Use a paper towel or rag to pick up the materials and dispose of them.
- Mop floors after spraying them using bleach/water solution or a disinfectant. Dirt floors can be sprayed with either bleach and water solution or a disinfectant.
- If exposed insulation has become contaminated with urine and droppings, it should be placed into plastic bags for removal.
- To remove any potentially contaminated materials from storage vessels/boxes:
- First, move the storage vessels/boxes outside and place them in an area that is well-ventilated and exposed to direct sunlight. The outside of the storage vessels/boxes can be disinfected using bleach and water solution or disinfectant solution;
- Next, remove the potentially contaminated materials while in the sunlit, ventilated area. Remain upwind so that any dust or debris is not blown toward your face. Some contaminated stored materials, such as clothing, books, etc. can be decontaminated by following the recommended methods of disinfection provided in the table below; items that are no longer needed can be discarded.
- Dispose of any cardboard boxes contaminated with urine or droppings. Plastic, glass, or metal containers can be disinfected by spraying with the bleach and water solution or disinfectant. Then, using a rag or paper towel, wipe up the urine or droppings and dispose of the waste.
- Clean countertops, cabinets, and drawers with disinfectant or bleach and water solution.
- Decontaminate gloves with disinfectant or bleach and water solution. Wash hands well with soap and warm water.
Rodents, including squirrels, mice, and rats, may construct their nests in cars, trucks, campers, and other vehicles, especially if such vehicles are used infrequently. Rodent nesting materials can be found in many areas of a vehicle. For more information read Interim Guidance for Cleaning and Disinfection of Vehicles with Rodent Infestations.
Special precautions should be used for cleaning homes or buildings with heavy rodent infestation. The special precautions may also apply to vacant dwellings that have attracted large numbers of rodents and to dwellings and other structures where hantavirus has been confirmed in the rodent population.
Workers who are either hired specifically to perform a clean-up or are asked to do so as part of their work activities should contact their local or state health department, local or state occupational health and safety authority (OSHA) or CDC for information about preventing rodent-borne diseases.
Persons involved in the clean-up of heavy rodent infestations should wear the protective equipment listed here:
- coveralls (disposable, if possible);
- rubber boots or disposable shoe covers;
- rubber, latex, or vinyl gloves;
- protective goggles;
- and an appropriate respiratory protection device, such as a half-mask air-purifying (or negative-pressure) respirator with a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter or a powered air-purifying respirator (PAPR) with HEPA filters. Follow local and state requirement regarding pulmonary function and fit testing before beginning any work requiring the use of a respirator.
- Personal protective gear should be decontaminated upon removal at the end of the day. All potentially infective waste material (including respirator filters) from clean-up operations that cannot be burned or deep-buried on site should be double-bagged in appropriate plastic bags. The bagged material should then be labeled as infectious (if it is to be transported) and disposed of in accordance with local requirements for infectious waste.
When there is evidence that rodents have access to heating and cooling ventilation systems, it is best to contact a professional rodent exterminating service to remove them. Companies specializing in duct cleaning are familiar with the particular problems and risks associated with rodent infestation in ventilation systems.
For more specific information on eliminating rodent infestations in heating and cooling ventilation systems and the companies that perform this service, refer to the Environmental Protection Agency’s website.
High levels of airborne allergens in inner-city homes could trigger asthma attacks!
The amount of mouse allergens found in the air in many inner-city homes could be high enough to trigger asthma symptoms in the children who live there, say researchers at the Johns Hopkins Children’s Center. Their study, published in the February issue of the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, found more than a quarter of inner-city homes sampled had airborne allergen levels already known to aggravate asthma symptoms in animal research lab workers with mouse allergy.
Other common household allergens known to affect asthma include proteins shed by cockroaches, dust mites, furry pets, mold, tobacco smoke and many other chemicals. While previous studies have examined exposure to settled dust mouse allergen in inner-city homes, this is believed to be the first to describe airborne mouse allergen levels.
Children exposed to airborne mouse allergen at the high levels found in the study may be more likely to experience asthma symptoms, including wheezing or difficulty breathing, which could lead to a full-blown asthma attack or other asthma-related illnesses, States Elizabeth Matsui, M.D., a pediatric allergist at the Johns Hopkins Children’s Center.
Rodent allergens are most likely to occur in home with cracks, openings in walls, doors and attics. Another entry way for rodents is openings to the crawlspace. Sealing all openings to the home and cleaning open food in the kitchen is a good way to reduce rodent activity.
How reducing humidity levels can prevent mold growth!
High humidity levels can contribute to the growth of mold in your home. High humidity in a home can lead to mold and mildew contamination, especially during wet seasons. It is important to monitor these humidity levels and take steps to reduce them if they become too high. Prevention is the most important aspect in keeping mold at bay. Outlined below are some suggestions to help monitor and decrease humidity in your home.
- Determine if your humidity levels are high
An indoor humidity monitor can help distinguish if you need to reduce your levels. The EPA suggests reducing humidity levels to 30-60% indoors (ideally 30-50%) to decrease and prevent mold growth. Condensation on or around windows is a good indication that moisture levels are too high. Act quickly to remedy the situation before mold begins to take root and becomes a much larger issue.
2. Increase ventilation
Be sure to use properly vented exhaust fans while cooking and dish washing, etc, to reduce the moisture in the air. Ensure that ventilation throughout the home is adequate and used, especially in the bathroom.
3.Buy a dehumidifier
If you live an an area with high humidity, or you just can’t seem to get the levels under control in your home, an adequate dehumidifier may be needed to prevent mold and mildew growth in your home. Make sure you purchase one that will cover the square footage necessary.
Elevated humidity levels are not the only measures that should be taken when trying to reduce the chances of mold growth in your home! Common areas like bathrooms, kitchen sink cabinetry, interior walls that share common walls with the exterior, attics and basements should be checked periodically for mold growth since mold likes to hide in dark damp places.
Spring cleaning is a time-tested tradition to welcome the warm weather by doing a thorough cleaning of your home or business and with the proper methods in place you to can prevent mold illnesses in your home. Many may not realize that this annual ritual is also critical in maintaining a healthy environment and prevent illness.
Mold is both an allergen and a pathogen, which means you can be allergic to molds and become seriously ill from a moldy indoor environment.
- 16% in U.S. experience chronic sinusitis – Approximately 50 million suffer from this debilitating illness that is one of several conditions that can be caused by mold in your home or work environment.
- 24% in U.S. have genetic predisposition to be sensitive to mold – For these approximately 80 million people, mold can trigger an immune response that causes inflammation and troublesome allergy symptoms. Mold exposure in these cases can be mistaken for many other chronic illnesses, where severe conditions can be undiagnosed or misdiagnosed for lengthy periods while people suffer.
There are also many toxigenic molds that are common in water-damaged homes. These molds produce secondary substances that are potent toxin and cause debilitating disease.
The following tips are highly recommended in preventing mold illnesses in your home during a thorough spring cleaning (use a professional, if you are not handy for some of these tasks):
- Identify Indoor Water Leaks – Search for water damage from plumbing, appliances, or roof. Have these water issues fixed immediately.
- Clean Every Room – Wipe or mop all surfaces from floor to ceilings (rather than just dusting), which can disrupt mold spores and disperse them into the air and HVAC system.
- Service HVAC System – An optimally running air conditioner with HEPA filters can have a tremendous impact on comfort and indoor air quality.
- Windows and Curtains – Wash your windows at least once a year and make sure to wipe down window ledges. Use a HEPA vacuum with an upholstery tool to vacuum your curtains, as mold can accumulate over time and are easily dispersed into the air.
- Carpets – Again, use a HEPA vacuum to remove mold and all other allergens and germs. Your carpet can harbor significant amounts of mold as the cellulose adhesive is food for mold and moisture is easily trapped.
- Clean Toys – If you have younger kids, thoroughly clean all of them and remove those that are unused. Stuffed animals can be cleaned in the washing machine when placed in a bag or pillowcase.
- Declutter and Make Sure Air Circulates – When it comes to decluttering, people tend to pile up collections of boxes in one place (usually in the basement) and leave them. It is important to note that unfinished basements do not have conditioned air and harbor moisture during a humid summer. Cardboard is an ideal mold food source.
- Kitchen – Mold and other ”critters” are attracted to the kitchen because they can often find crumbs of food there. Check behind your refrigerator and under your sink for dampness or leaks. Allow your mats and towels to air dry completely after every use. A thorough cleaning of any mold or mildew from showers, bathtubs and shower curtains is a must. Make sure fans are working and use them after showering to remove moisture.
Please watch this short video on mold facts, if you feel that you have a mold issue or are suffering symptoms related to mold exposure please contact Guaranteed Property and Mold Inspections for proper mold inspection by a ACAC certified mold inspector at 949-230-6800.
Indoor air cleaning systems is one of the most commonly used methods for controlling indoor air pollution and the spread of mold. The other two methods are source control (eliminating or minimizing the source of the pollution) and ventilation. Both portable air cleaning units for room-size applications and in-duct devices/filters that are installed in the HVAC system are readily available in the marketplace. Typically, these air cleaning units have filters that need to be replaced periodically, and it is important to note the age of filters in your system and replace as needed. For in-duct devices/filters, they could be implemented primarily for removing pollutants from outdoor air, in which they would be installed at the outdoor air intake, or for removing pollutants and mold spores from recirculated indoor air. These air cleaners use various air cleaning technologies, such as filtration, adsorption by activated carbon, photocatalytic oxidation, or a combination of them.
Air cleaning technologies are designed to remove either particulate pollutants or gaseous pollutants (i.e., VOCs). Therefore, it is important to know the target pollutants to be removed and identify the appropriate air cleaning devices.
Note: that these air filters should be changed as needed and not on a timely basis. We always recommend that air return filters be changed with and allergy rated disposable filter to help improve indoor air quality.
The EPA is continuing research on DNA mold test that will be suited to screen homes for mold. Based on published data from Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) researchers, the Environmental Relative Mold Index (ERMI) test has been developed as a research tool to evaluate the potential risk of indoor mold growth and associated health effects. Mold and its health effects present a growing concern for home owners, physicians, real estate professionals and home buyers.
Because the ERMI was developed using a nationally representative sampling of homes, the EPA and HUD researchers believe that one can compare any newly sampled home in the United States to ERMI, and assess the home’s mold burden relative to the national sampling of 1,096 homes (i.e., lowest 25 percent, highest 25 percent, etc.).
Using ERMI protocols, targeted mold species are to be quantified bio-chemically. Mold species are divided into two groups by the ERMI. The first group of 26 indicator species represents molds associated with water damage, while the second group represents common indoor molds. The ERMI report includes the detection and concentrations of 36 specific mold species along with the combined ERMI value itself. The overall ERMI measurement provides a rank of the “moldiness” to compare the results to a national scale. An ERMI score is also used in conjunction with individual mold species quantification’s to determine mold conditions.
EPA researchers have applied ERMI in childhood asthma studies in cities across the United States, including Cincinnati, Chapel Hill, Detroit, Boston, Kansas City and San Diego. The studies have found higher ERMI values in homes of asthmatic children compared to controls. The EPA readily acknowledges that MSQPCR and ERMI are research protocols and have not been validated or peer reviewed by EPA for public use. Ongoing research by Dr. Richie Shoemaker M.D. and others show promising mold illness patient outcomes utilizing ERMI testing data.
The importance of a proper drainage system for your home is crucial. A proper drainage system will help keep water from soaking into the building and potentially damaging the interior and structural components.
Having a proper drainage system will help in reducing the risk of mold growth inside the structure. If a proper drainage system is not installed water can deteriorate the roof surface allowing moisture into the interior which can impact the structures ceiling causing mold growth. Microbial growth damages standard building materials and can also threaten the health and well being of individuals inside.
Proper roof drainage is especially important for flat roofs.
Flat roofs do not have the pitched sections of a traditional roof, so it is harder to direct the water off the roof. Despite the relative difficulty of guiding water from a flat roof, a well-engineered one is able to drain the water efficiently. Even though a flat roof does not appear to have a slope to it, a properly constructed flat roof surface will have a slight angle built in to direct the water pooling on it towards the drain and gutter system.
Not only it is important for your home to have a proper drainage system, it is also crucial that you have your gutters and drains cleaned as needed!
Last week while conducting a comprehensive mold inspection, we were on top of the flat roof where we observed a well complete roof drainage system which was constructed to direct water off the roof and away from the structure. The issue was that the clients drains were completely clogged allowing water to pond on the roof and eventually resulted in water deteriorating and penetrating the roof which caused moisture damage and mold growth at their homes ceiling.
Water is can penetrate your home through the smallest of openings. Taking the time to ensure your home is protected should be a priority. It is important to maintain and correct the your homes drainage system to avoid water damage.