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What can I do to reduce my exposure to mold?

Molds are also known as fungus. They are microscopic plant-like organisms that form colonies and grow on various substances. Similar to plants, molds give off spores that cause allergies. If you are allergic to one mold, you have an 85% chance of being allergic to other molds. Mold allergy is quite common and it’s associated with year-round allergies and occurs even though the pollen count is low. Mold spores peak in the warm summer months. Molds grow in dark and damp (humidity >60%) environments. The key to reduce indoor mold is to eliminate dampness and darkness. Molds are found in bathrooms, under sinks, or on houseplants. Outside they flourish on dead plants and in shaded areas. Remember there is more mold outside than inside, so don’t go too crazy getting rid of mold in your home. This can be particularly expensive when cleaning out ducts.

  • Avoid areas that are breeding grounds for molds such as garages, barns, basements, crawl spaces, woodpiles, and fallen leaves.
  • Keeping basements dry and ventilated to reduce moisture and darkness.
  • Clothes dryers should be vented to the outside.
  • Keep the humidity in your house below 50%. Use air conditioners and dehumidifiers. Also consider installing a dehumidifier in the basement or other damp, enclosed areas.
  • Examine your refrigerator, air-conditioning vents, and humidifier for mold growth. Clean with mold and mildew remover.
  • Use an exhaust fan over the stove and in the bathroom to remove extra humidity.
  • Clean the refrigerator and empty the water pan regularly and discard spoiling food promptly.
  • Use machine-washable bath mats in the bathroom.
  • After leaving the shower, be sure to stretch out the curtain to deter mildew.
  • Wear a mask if you transplant houseplants or dig around in the soil. Also, immediately empty the water that seeps into the saucers under plants when they’re watered.
  • Even dried flowers, including holiday wreaths, often contain molds.
  • Store firewood outdoors.
  • Open curtains to allow drying sunlight to shine in.
  • Keep the yard free of fallen leaves.
  • Avoid using pillows and mattresses that are contain foam rubber (choose “hypoallergenic” items)
  • Consider using a HEPA filter, especially if you also use a humidifier, to pick up any mold spores that enter the air.
  • Paint mildewed areas with mold-resistant paint.
  • Remove carpeting, wallboard and other construction materials that have suffered water damage.
  • Remove indoor plants (although some studies have shown that potted plants do not significantly increase mold spores).
  • Repair any plumbing leaks, especially under cabinets.