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MOLD FACTS

Does your home have…?

  • Stains or discoloration on your walls, ceiling, or furniture?
  • A damp or musty smell?
  • Water problems like a leaky roof or water in the basement?

What is it?

Molds are alive. There are hundreds of thousands of different types of molds. They are living organisms that grow naturally, particularly in warm, damp, humid conditions where there is little air movement. Often called "mildew", molds are related to mushrooms and yeast but much smaller-we can only see or smell mold when there is a large quantity. Mold can grow almost anywhere: on walls, ceilings, carpets, or furniture. Humidity or wetness, caused by water leaks, spills from bathtubs or showers, or condensation, can make your home more likely to allow mold to grow.

Mold produces "spores", tiny particles that float through the air. These can sometimes cause health problems. Mold does not affect everyone, and different people are affected differently. People who are allergic to mold may get watery eyes, runny or stuffed noses, itching, headaches, and may have difficulty breathing. Mold can also trigger asthma attacks. Some molds produce toxins (poisons) that may be hazardous if people are exposed to large amounts of these molds. Scientists are still studying the effects of exposure to these and other molds.

What can you do?

You cannot eliminate all mold spores from a home but you can take the following steps to get rid of mold.

Prevent-keep your house clean and dry

  • Make sure your home is well ventilated and always use ventilation fans in bathrooms and kitchens.
  • If possible, keep humidity in your house below 50% by using an air conditioner or dehumidifier.
  • Avoid carpeting in kitchens, bathrooms, and basements. Dry floor mats regularly.
  • Fix water problems such as roof leaks, wet basements, and leaking pipes or faucets.
  • Remove or replace carpets, furniture, walls, and floorboards damaged by leaks or floods.

Identify-find mold that might be growing in your home

  • Search for areas that have a damp or moldy smell, especially in basements, kitchens, and bathrooms.
  • Look for water stains or colored, fuzzy growth on and around ceilings, walls, floors, windowsills and pipes.
  • Search behind and underneath materials such as carpeting, furniture, or stored items.
  • Inspect kitchens, bathrooms, and basements for standing water, water stains, and patches of out-of-place color.

Respond-fix any water problems immediately and clean or remove wet materials, furnishings, or mold

  • Clean up spills or floods within one day.
  • Dry all surfaces and fix the problem or leak to prevent further damage.
  • Install a dehumidifier where there is moisture intrusion.
  • Replace contaminated components, such as drywall and insulation.
  • Clean mold off non-porous surfaces with a weak solution of bleach and water.
  • Throw away moldy materials that cannot be cleaned, such as carpet or upholstered furniture.
  • When cleaning mold, protect yourself by wearing long sleeves, pants, shoes, and rubber gloves, as well as goggles and a facemask.
  • If you find a large area of mold (larger than the top of a twin-sized bed) or are allergic to mold, consider hiring a professional to clean it and fix the cause of the problem (For a list of mold-removal professionals, look under "Fire and Water Damage Restoration" in your telephone book.)

For More Information…

Visit HUD's website at www.hud.gov/healthyhomes for more information about addressing health hazards in homes or to learn if HUD has a Healthy Homes program in your community. From this website, you can download a copy of "Help Yourself to A Healthy Home" for more practical steps you can take to make your home a healthy home. Additional information on mold can be found on a web site developed by HUD at: www.healthy-homes.info

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