Out With the Mold Spore, In With the
AAAAI offers tips for eliminating mildew in homes and businesses
MILWAUKEE—Recent news stories indicate out of
control mold spore growth has caused people to abandon their homes and close
their businesses, leading to millions of dollars in lost business or
homeowner’s insurance claims. This can also have a devastating
impact on individuals. For many people, athese are an allergy trigger
that brings on sneezing and other irritating symptoms.
"There is good evidence that people who live in
moldy environments have increased health problems including asthma,
nasal congestion, and possible fatigue, headaches and other problems
that are not well understood," said Jay Portnoy, MD, FAAAAI.
"Avoidance may improve these symptoms."
The best way to find molds is to look in dark, damp,
warm environments. It can grow almost anywhere: on sheet rock, carpet,
wood panels, garbage cans and basement walls. It can even grow in
areas that are not easily visible, such as inside walls and furniture.
Excessive indoor humidity, resulting in water vapor condensation on
walls, plumbing leaks, spills from showering or bathing, water leaking
through foundations or roofs, may lead to growth.
Exposure can trigger allergic reactions in people
who have allergies. Symptoms include wheezing, difficulty breathing
and shortness of breath, nasal and sinus congestion, irritated eyes, a
dry, hacking cough, irritated nose or throat and skin rashes or
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Controlling the problem
According to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and
Immunology (AAAAI), taking the following steps to rid your home or
business of mold spore can lead to a decrease in allergy symptoms and
lessen the potential burden on your pocketbook:
- Use a solution of water and dish detergent
to clean the area.. Then wipe it all down, making sure to dry any
excess water. Remember to wear
rubber gloves and use a protective mask if your symptoms are severe.
Remove the source- If mildew is visible in carpeting
or on wallpaper, remove them from your home. Also, if you have a
leaky pipe or roof, quickly repair and seal these moisture sources.
Dry it out- Use exhaust fans in the bathroom and wipe down
the shower after use. Periodically clean the bathroom and other
mold-promoting places with a product that kills mildew, and
throw away shower curtains at the first sign of growth of any kind.
Lower humidity- Try to maintain a humidity level of 30 to 40
percent in your house.
Stay above ground- In general, it’s not a good idea for
people with allergies to have a bedroom or a family/work room
in the basement.
Air it out- Ventilate damp rooms, attics and even crawl
spaces under the house to try to keep them dry. If you use a
dehumidifier, empty and clean it regularly to prevent problems from
forming. Also, air filters may help control airborne mold spores
throughout your house.
All rooms, especially basements, bathrooms and
kitchens, require ventilation and consistent cleaning to control
There are 100,000 types of mold spore, however, only a few are toxic.
These molds produce chemicals called mycotoxins that can cause rashes,
seizures, respiratory problems, unusual bleeding and severe fatigue in
One form is stachybotrys chartarum
(stack-ee-BOT-ris), a greenish-black mold that occurs where there is
moisture from water damage, excessive humidity, water leaks,
condensation, water infiltration, or flooding. This form requires very
wet or high humid conditions for days or weeks in order to grow.
Stachybotrys grows only on wood, paper and cotton products and can be
found in 2%-5% of American homes.
"Since most molds are not toxic, you should not
panic if you see it in your house," Portnoy said. "If you
think you have symptoms that are related to molds, you should contact
your local allergist for advice. Your allergist also should be able to
tell whether your home needs to be inspected and how to get that
For more information on
these allergies, visit the Media
Resources section of the AAAAI for allergy and mold spore statistics.
The AAAAI is the largest professional medical
specialty organization in the United States representing allergists,
asthma specialists, clinical immunologists, allied health
professionals and others with a special interest and treatment of
allergic disease. Allergy/immunology specialists are pediatric or
internal medicine physicians who have elected an additional two years
of training to become specialized in the treatment of asthma, allergy
and immunologic disease. Established in 1943, the Academy has more
that 6,000 members in the United States, Canada, and 60 other
countries. The Academy serves as an advocate to the public by
providing educational information through its Web site
or the toll free Physician Referral and Information Line at
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