Indoor Air Quality Testing
Completing Thorough Air Quality Tests Within Your Home
Mold... literally, a growing concern. National media attention has alerted the public to the destructive and possibly toxic dangers of hidden mold spores that could affect their family’s health and their homes. EPA studies indicate that air levels of indoor pollutants may be two to three times higher than outdoor levels.
Mold, the most dangerous offender of all, often goes undetected because of its invisibility. Most people spend as much as 90% of their time indoors and are not aware of the health hazards created by this pollutant. You owe it to yourself to minimize your exposure to mold spores in the indoor environment.
WHY IS MOLD GROWING IN MY HOME?
Molds are part of the natural environment. 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.
- 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 to 48 hours to prevent mold growth.
WHERE IS MOLD FOUND IN THE HOME?
Mold can be found in several areas in the home environment. It appears most often in moist areas as little black circles or thread-like white objects. It is usually accompanied with a musty-type odor. Outdoors, mold plays a natural part in the environment by breaking down dead organic matter such as dead trees or fallen leaves. Mold reproduces by means of microscopic spores; the spores are invisible to the naked eye and float through the indoor and outdoor air. Mold begins to grow indoors when mold spores land on surfaces that are wet or damp. Mold will not grow without water or moisture. Therefore, it is important to dry water-damaged areas and items within 24-48 hours to prevent mold growth.
Some examples of places where mold can be found inside the home include:
- Basements, kitchens (bottom of fridge), around bathroom vanities, washer/dryer area.
- The underside of carpets and pads
- The surface of walls behind furniture (where condensation forms)
- Ceilings and the top side of ceiling tiles
- Front and back side of dry wall, wall paper or paneling
- Inside HVAC systems and duct work
HOW CAN I REDUCE OR ELIMINATE MOLD INSIDE MY HOME?
It is impossible to completely eliminate all mold and mold spores indoors. Mold will always be found floating in the air and in house dust. Indoor mold growth can be prevented by controlling water and moisture indoors. The following may prevent or reduce. indoor mold growth:
- Repair any water leaks
- Provide good air circulation
- All HVAC systems should have a good electrostatic filter on the return
- Use bathroom, kitchen and laundry room exhaust fans
- Insulate and ventilate attic and crawl space areas
- Clean, dry or remove items that are damaged by water immediately.
MOISTURE AND MOLD PREVENTION AND CONTROL TIPS
- Moisture control is the key to mold control, so when water leaks or spills occur indoors, ACT QUICKLY. If wet or damp materials or areas are dried within 24 to 48 hours after a leak or spill happens, in most cases, mold will not grow.
- Clean and repair roof gutters regularly.
- Make sure the ground slopes away from the building's foundation so that water does not enter or collect around the foundation.
- Keep air-conditioning drip pans clean and the drain lines unobstructed and flowing properly.
- Keep indoor humidity low. If possible, keep indoor humidity below 60% relative humidity (ideally, between 30% to 50%). Relative humidity can be measured with a moisture or humidity meter, which is a small, inexpensive instrument (from $10 to $50) that is available at many hardware stores.
- If you see condensation or moisture collecting on windows, walls or pipes, ACT QUICKLY to dry the wet surface and reduce the moisture/water source. Condensation can be a sign of high humidity.
Actions that will help to reduce humidity:
- Vent appliances that produce moisture, such as clothes dryers, stoves, and kerosene heaters, to the outdoors, where possible. (Combustion appliances, such as stoves and kerosene heaters, produce water vapor and will increase the humidity unless vented to the outside.)
- Use air conditioners and/or de-humidifiers when needed.
- Run the bathroom fan or open the window when showering. Use exhaust fans or open windows whenever cooking, running the dishwasher or dishwashing, etc.
Actions that will help prevent condensation:
- Reduce the humidity (see above).
- Increase ventilation and air movement by opening doors and/or windows, when practical. Use fans as needed.
- Cover cold surfaces, such as cold water pipes, with insulation.
- Increase air temperature.
CAN MOLD CAUSE HEALTH PROBLEMS?
Mold has the potential to cause health problems and even make a home uninhabitable. However, everyone is affected differently when in contact with mold. The mold that may not bother the seller may severely affect the buyer. Some mold can produce allergens, irritants and, in some cases, potentially toxic chemical substances known as mycotoxins. People who are sensitive and exposed to mycotoxins can become ill. Allergic reactions to mold are common. They can be immediate or delayed. People diagnosed with allergies and asthma may be very sensitive to mold. Mold can cause asthma attacks. Others at risk may include: infants, children, the elderly, immune compromised patients, pregnant women and individuals with existing respiratory conditions.
With exposure, even in small amounts, mold may cause:
- Itching or irritation of the nose, eyes, throat or skin
- Mysterious skin rashes
- Sinus infections or congestion / sinusitis (runny nose)
- Respiratory problems (sneezing and coughing)
- Upper or lower respiratory infections
- Frequent headaches
- Trouble concentrating, memory lapses, confusion
- Mood swings, anxiety, depression
- Chronic aches and pains
- Digestive problems