What is mold and why can it be a problem after a flood? Mold is a kind of microscopic fungus. There are many types of molds, and they are present throughout the environment, indoors and out. Tiny mold particles are always present in the air, in the form of tiny microscopic cells known as spores. Mold spores can germinate and grow in a moist or damp environment, on any surface that contains organic matter. A home that’s been flooded can provide ideal conditions for the growth and proliferation of mold. Go to > top Why is mold a health concern? Indoor mold can trigger allergies or allergy-like symptoms affecting the upper respiratory system. Although other, more serious problems may occur if people are exposed to very high levels of mold, the most common complaints are: * nasal and sinus congestion * cough * wheeze/breathing difficulties * sore throat * skin and eye irritation * upper respiratory infections (including sinus infections) The effect of mold on different people can vary widely. However, long-term exposure to high levels from indoor mold growth can eventually be unhealthy for anyone. |
The following groups of people may be at greater risk than others: * infants, children and the elderly * individuals with respiratory conditions or sensitivities such as severe indoor allergies and asthma * persons with weakened immune systems (for example, people with HIV infection, chemotherapy patients, organ transplant recipients) MDH recommends that you consult a medical professional if you feel your health is being affected by a moldy environment.
In addition to health complaints, mold damages building materials, goods, or furnishings when it grows on them. Mold growth and moisture may eventually compromise the building’s structural integrity. Because of potential health concerns and damage to property, molds should not be allowed to grow and multiply indoors. Go to > top Finding a Mold Problem: Investigate — don't test. After a flood, many people become convinced – often with the help of an aggressive salesperson – that testing is the best way to find out if you have a mold problem. That isn’t necessarily true. The most practical and reliable tools for detecting a mold problem are your eyes and nose. If you see something that looks like mold, or you detect an earthy or musty smell, you should assume a mold problem exists. The presence of moisture or worsening allergy-like symptoms can also tip you off to a mold problem. When you check for mold, be sure to: * Look for visible mold growth (may appear cottony, velvety, granular, or leathery and have varied colors of white, gray, brown, black, yellow, green). Mold often appears as discoloration, staining, or fuzzy growth on the surface of building materials or furnishings. * Search areas with noticeable mold odors. * Look for signs of excess moisture or water damage. Look for water leaks, standing water, water stains, condensation problems. For example, do you see any watermarks or discoloration on walls, ceilings, carpet, woodwork or other building materials? * Search behind and underneath materials (carpet and pad, wallpaper, vinyl flooring, sink cabinets), furniture, or stored items. Sometimes destructive techniques may be needed to inspect and clean enclosed spaces where mold and moisture are hidden -- opening up a wall cavity, for example. Be sure to use protective equipment and dust control methods described below.
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