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IS YOUR HOUSE MAKING YOU SICK?
IS YOUR HOUSE MAKING YOU SICK?
April 20, 2017
Are you constantly sneezing and sniffing? Do your eyes water all the time? Do you have a cough that won’t go away? Do you seem to have headaches a lot? Is your throat scratchy? Have you ever thought maybe there’s mold in my house? I know, it’s been a current topic in the news. Everybody is talking about it, for good reason! Scientists have found out how dangerous mold can be to us. Remember when all houses were painted with paint that contained lead? Nobody thought that was dangerous. Remember when asbestos was a commonly used product? Now everyone knows how dangerous it is to our health, and now it’s removal is regulated by the government? Mold is also dangerous and the movement toward government regulation is coming for this too!
Did you know that besides allergy symptoms mold has been known to cause infection, severe breathing disorders, skin rashes, memory loss, mood changes, fevers and other complications? There are thousands of types of mold. If you are allergic to molds, and you have mold in your house, you may be experiencing some of these symptoms. Even if you don’t have allergies, constant exposure to mold can make you susceptible to an allergic mold reaction. Some mold, like toxic mold, can produce mycotoxins that can cause nerve damage, organ damage, cancer and immunity suppression and even in very rare cases, death. Of course, thankfully, not all mold is toxic but that doesn’t mean it can’t cause illness to you and your family.
Mold, if left alone, and given the proper conditions, will continue to grow. Sometimes, in extreme cases, mold can overtake an entire house. You’ve probably heard the horror stories about houses having to be bulldozed and sometimes burned because they’re uninhabitable. Also, you may have heard about some of the well known actors who have had severe mold problems. Sometimes, they were forced to move out of their mansions while the mold was removed, some of them got very sick and some died. Of course, there are many unknown people who have had the same horrible experiences with mold, they just don’t get the same amount of publicity. The bottom line is it doesn’t matter who you are, mold can strike anywhere.
So now you’re probably wondering, what makes mold thrive. Mold needs three things to grow; the spores themselves, an organic material to feed on, and moisture. The way mold grows is; the airborne spores settle on organic building materials like wood, drywall and ceiling tiles. Water or humidity gets in the area where the spores are and a network of branched, thread-like filaments called hyphae develop. Within 24 to 48 hours, masses called mycelia form and later release reproductive spores. A mold spore is a reproductive cell that will continue to reproduce as long as there is water or a high moisture content, ie; high humidity and food to eat, such as drywall, boxes, wood etc. If the situation that caused the mold to grow is not corrected, the mold will continue to thrive. If the mold is not killed, but just wiped with bleach, you may have removed the signs of mold but there is a good chance that the mold spores are still there in a dormant stage. What dormant means is that the spore is inactive but is awaiting future moisture and food to again reproduce.
Take just a minute and think if you’ve had any of these problems in the past few months. Have you had any flooding in your basement or excess moisture? Have you had an appliance break that leaked water? Have you had a tub, shower, toilet leak or have you lost some grout or caulking around your tub or shower where water might be constantly running behind the tile? Have you had a roof leak in to the attic or ceiling of a room? Do you have excess moisture or humidity in a room, basement, attic? Do you have proper ventilation in your bathroom to remove moisture and is it being vented to the outside? Is your dryer properly vented to the outside? If you have public water have you noticed an increase in your water consumption? Did you have a pipe leak into a wall or ceiling? Do you have clogged roof gutters or downspouts that are directing the water toward the foundation or onto window sills? Do you see any discoloration on your ceiling or walls? Does it smell like an old dirty locker room in one of your rooms? Lastly, do you have unexplained allergic symptoms, headaches, or difficulty breathing, etc.?
Well, hopefully you don’t have any of these situations! However, if you do have one or more of these problems, let me tell you this, don’t wait to fix the problem. The longer you wait, the worse the problem will get. That is the first rule with mold. Don’t let it reproduce and multiply. Mold can duplicate every 20 minutes. Stop it now!
You’ve located a water or mold problem. If it’s in a basement or crawl space and is occurring due to moisture intrusions, or extreme dampness hire a Waterproofing Company to permanently fix your problem. Regardless of your findings, fix the source of moisture as soon as possible. Now don’t go haphazardly into the moldy area and try to clean it up without understanding how to do it properly. People mistakenly think OK, I stopped the source, now all I have to do is remove the mold. Sometimes the mold is on walls, floors, in carpet, on ceilings, behind drywall, on insulation, on wood beams., etc.. If you just wipe off the visible mold with a cleaning product, like bleach, you may be killing some of the mold on the surface but you are spreading the mold spores both dead and alive. Even dead mold spores can cause allergic reaction. You are not killing all the mold this way and are risking potential irritation of your lungs with the caustic effect of the bleach. If it is in the wood, wiping will only kill the surface mold. The roots are in the wood and can continue to grow with the right conditions.. If you have mold growing on contents, carrying those items through the house to discard them, could contaminate the whole house with mold spores. Some things can’t be salvaged by cleaning them and do need to be thrown away, but all aspects of mold removal have to be done in a controlled atmosphere, the mold must be killed, and removed, not just wiped down.
Here is a guideline to help you decide if you should try to handle the mold removal yourself. Is the area very small, say two square feet or less? Are you sure that behind the visible mold there is not a larger amount of mold that may have entered the wood beams or insulation? Is the mold growing on items that can be cleaned by wiping them with a mold killing solution? Is the mold imbedded in wood, leather, carpet, fabrics, etc.?
Are you immune compromised or sensitive to allergens? If you’re going to attempt to clean it up yourself, plastic off the area so the mold spores don’t spread, wear protective clothing, gloves, mask and shoe covers for protection and don’t cross contaminate. Spores travel through the air, are microscopic and you won’t be able to tell if they are traveling.
To eliminate the mold problem you’re experiencing we believe the safest way is to hire a Certified Mold Remediation Specialist. A mold remediator can help you find out why you have a mold problem, some companies can correct the source of the moisture, find out where and how pervasive the mold is and safely remove the mold according to strict guidelines. Some remediators will clean the air while they are removing the mold. Most will dispose of your trash without the fear of spreading the mold. They can do all of the work from start to finish, with very little disruption to your and your family. They have been trained for this and they have a lot of practice. Some professional mold remediators offer free mold inspections and they can tell you what steps need to be taken. Testing can be done but it will cost you money. Many laboratories don’t believe testing needs to be done if there is visible mold, they believe if you see mold get rid of it. However, if you still choose to have testing done, you will receive a written report directly from the lab, which provides an abundance of information. You’ll know what type you have, the health ramifications and how severe the problem is. Again, sometimes the problem is localized and it can be handled yourself, as long as you know the proper precautionary steps to take. Remember this is for your own health.
For more information about Mold Remediation and Waterproofing, please call Integra-Clean, Certified Mold Inspectors and Remediators at 1-888-767-9932
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