Two years of severe hurricane hits along the Gulf Coast and heavy rains and flooding this spring in the Northeast are providing a nationwide breeding ground for indoor mold and mildew growth (some deadly) now that summer heat is here. What is the solution?
The subject is surrounded by controversy. The Centers for Disease Control, Institute of Medicine, as well as scientists and doctors at Harvard University, Mayo Clinic, Mt. Sinai School of Medicine, and several State Health Agencies have all looked at the problem. There have been several studies conducted by medical researchers over the past few years looking for any linkages between various respiratory and physical ailments and deaths and the presence of molds in our living space. While some say there is a linkage, others say the facts don’t support that.
Here are the facts. Mold is everywhere; inside and outside. Some molds are good (penicillin), some are very toxic and emit gases that can be inhaled (Stachybotrys “black mold”). Although some people apparently aren’t bothered by mold, all varieties have the potential to cause illness. Mold reproduces by generating spores that are released into the air, where they land on moist surfaces. They can grow on any organic surface such as wallpaper, ceiling tiles, carpeting, wallboard and wood. They thrive in dark, warm, moist locations, like under carpets, inside walls and ceilings. They will also contaminate items that come in contact with those surfaces.
Mold can trigger allergic reactions and asthma attacks in many. Complaints of flu-like symptoms, chronic fatigue syndrome, memory impairment, migraines, sick building syndrome, dizziness and nosebleeds are common. These are the mild symptoms. Many researchers claim that mold can attack several main body systems, including the brain, central nervous and immune systems and have been the direct cause of some deaths. Regardless of where you stand on this issue, who wants to smell mold/mildew and inhale spores from household fungus? They can lodge in your lungs (remember dark, warm and moist). Asthmatics, infants and individuals suffering immune system deficiencies are particularly susceptible.
So, what should you do if you think that your home might have a mold/mildew problem? Here’s a suggested 5 step process:
• Mold Inspection- retain a qualified, certified mold inspection firm to evaluate your home and determine cause of mold and severity of infestation.
• Isolation of the Area- if there is a mold problem, you will want to isolate the area carefully to prevent carryover into non infested areas during clean up.
• Clean Up/Remediation- care should be taken to not stir up the mold; if it is severe, or in the walls, a specialized remediation firm (in space suits) may have to be used and materials removed in hazardous waste containers.
• Repair of the Cause- if there is structural damage or leaky plumbing causing a moisture problem, fix it.
• Maintenance/Prevention- an ongoing program to ensure no recurrence of the cause and use of proven purification technology to maintain a clean environment and kill mold growth.
On this last point, emphasis is placed on use of technology that has a proven track record of mold abatement. HEPA filters and electrostatic filters that are called purifiers are not effective on mold/mildew. There is, however, affordable, proprietary and safe technology currently available that has a demonstrated ability to sanitize surfaces from a variety of microbials and to stop mold/mildew growth. This effective technology has become widely accepted since it’s use by the government during the 9/11 Pentagon cleanup, is currently in use in several government facilities and is available to the general public through an authorized dealer network. For more information visit www.freshair2u.info [http://www.freshair2u.info]