Home Improvement Web logo

Sick Building Syndrome:Is Mold a Menace in Your Home?

"Sick building syndrome is defined as an illness characterized by skin irritations, headache, and respiratory problems that is caused by indoor pollutants, inadequate ventilation, and microorganisms, which include mold."

Is Mold a Menace in Your Home?

Website: http://www.aracontent.com/

(ARA) - Sick building syndrome has become such a big problem in the United States in recent years, it's a phrase you can now find in the dictionary. It is defined as an illness characterized by skin irritations, headache, and respiratory problems that is caused by indoor pollutants, inadequate ventilation, and microorganisms, which include mold.

Toxic molds have been making people sick since biblical times, but the scope of the problem really came to the forefront in 1996 when tests by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) revealed the probable cause of the mysterious illness that killed one infant and sickened nine others at a Cleveland, Ohio, housing project. The babies, who lived within close proximity to one another, all suffered from the same rare lung disorder characterized by pulmonary hemorrhaging. The likely cause: Stachybotrys chartarum, a greenish-black mold. It was found in every one of their homes.

In recent years, the same toxic mold has been responsible for countless other incidents of sick building syndrome at schools, public offices and even single family homes. "Part of the problem is our current construction practices," says Seth Norman, CEO of Walled Lake, Mich.-based Mold Free, a nationwide mold inspection and remediation service. "We close our buildings tight to make them energy efficient, and as a result, building materials exposed to moisture never get a chance to dry out."

Burst or leaking plumbing, leaking roofs, ground water seepage, water and flood damage can cause thousands of different types of molds, bacteria, mildew and even black mold to grow on fiberboard, gypsum board, paper, dust, and lint.

Visible mold can be cleaned off surfaces with a weak bleach solution. Mold under carpets typically requires that the carpets be removed and replaced, but what do you do about mold in the insulation or wallboard? It goes without saying, they too have to be replaced, but how do you know you have a mold problem behind your walls?

"That's the first place we look if there aren't any other visible signs of what's making someone sick in their home," says Norman. Signs of mold exposure include nasal stuffiness, eye irritation, wheezing, fever and even shortness of breath. People with chronic illnesses, such as obstructive lung disease, may develop mold infections in their lungs.

Depending on the size of the building, Norman's company charges between $500 and $2500 to conduct an environmental assessment. "The high cost prohibits a lot of people from going through with the testing," says Norman. "We saw there was a need for an inexpensive testing tool, so we developed one."

IMS Laboratory's Mold Test Kit, which retails for $9.95 plus the cost of shipping, comes complete with easy to follow instructions for testing your home or office environment. It is the only home testing kit approved by the National Association of Mold Professionals, a non-profit organization established with the goal of developing and promoting the Mold Inspection and Remediation industry.

"The kit can be used three different ways: it can take a direct topical sample; it can be taped to an air vent to test your air duct system, or simply exposed to the air in a suspect room. Once the test is complete, you seal it in the enclosed bag and place it in a dark, warm place for two to three days," says Norman. "After the required time elapses, look at the plastic container inside and if you see anything growing your environment has tested positive for mold. You then have the option of sending the kit to our laboratory to have the type of mold identified. " There is a $29.95 fee for laboratory analysis.

For more information about the health problems associated with toxic mold, and signs to look for to determine its presence in your home, log onto www.homemoldtestkit.com. Mold Free test kits can either be ordered online or by calling (877) 665-3373.

How to Reduce Mold in Your Home

Mold enters the home through open doors and windows or on clothing, shoes and pets. Inside, mold can grow on virtually any surface when moisture is present. According to the National Association of Mold Professionals (NAMP) and the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA), you can reduce mold growth throughout the home by:

  • Keeping humidity below 40 percent.
  • Using an air conditioner or dehumidifier during humid months.
  • Making sure your home has adequate ventilation.
  • Drying any water leak within 24 hours.
  • Removing carpet in bathrooms and basements.
  • Disposing of moldy materials immediately.
  • Cleaning hard surfaces regularly with mold-killing products. Allergy or asthma sufferers should ask non-sensitive people to apply cleaning products.

Solutions of soap and water may remove mold stains, but can leave mold spores behind. Those remaining spores, which are often invisible to the naked eye, can then quickly re-colonize. To decrease mold in homes, clean regularly with products designed to kill common household molds.

Note: This article was submitted by a second party and the contents are subject to our disclaimer.

The Home Improvement Web Directory - DIY Tips, Design, Decorating, Repair, and Improvement Information For The Consumer and Professional!
"Find the information and resources you need for your home and property"