Mold is a non-scientific term that in popular jargon generally refers to types of fungi.
Mold can be found almost anywhere that moisture is present. It can grow on nearly any substance to include, but not limited to, fabrics, wood, paper and foods.
When mold growth is not removed from building surfaces, it not only damages these surfaces, but also affects air quality by increasing the amount of mold spores and fragments in the air.
Potential health effects and symptoms associated with mold exposures include allergic reactions, asthma and other respiratory complaints.
Although there is no practical way to eliminate all mold in the indoor environment, the way to control indoor mold growth is to control moisture. Ventilation with moisture control is an engineering method that is often used to resolve indoor air quality and mold problems.
Ventilation systems filter, supply and circulate air in order to remove air contaminants. Filters on a ventilation system are designed to trap mold spore, fragments, dust and other particles. This is why air filters must be replaced (or cleaned if they are not the disposable type).
Mold spores can settle in dust, so it is important to include good housekeeping practices to prevent dust accumulation. Additional methods that are essential to mold prevention are as follows:
Prevent condensation from air conditioners or air handling units, which occurs often when warm air comes in contact with cold surfaces. This is why it is necessary to provide proper insulation (i.e., windows, piping, exterior walls, roof, or floors).
Clean and dry any damp or wet building materials and furnishings within 24 to 48 hours.
Reduce indoor humidity (to 30 to 60 percent) and control other moisture generating sources (i.e., vent bathrooms and dryers to the outside); use dehumidifiers (if possible).
Increase ventilation or air movement.
Do not install carpeting in areas where there is a perpetual moisture problem (i.e., by drinking fountains, by classroom sinks, or on concrete floors with leaks or frequent condensation).
Itís important to protect yourself when dealing with mold. Wear personal protective equipment (rubber gloves, disposable N-95 respirator, and eye protection) to scrub nonporous or semi-porous surfaces with water and detergent and dry surfaces completely.
Porous and absorbent materials such as ceiling tiles or other materials that cannot be cleaned should be removed and discarded or replaced.
Repair sources of water leaks prevent recurrence of the mold problem. Biocides such as chlorinated bleach are often used to disinfect surfaces after all visible mold is removed.
For more information on mold, visit the Centers for Disease Control website at www.cdc.gov/mold/faqs.htm or the Army Public Health Center at https://phc.amedd.army.mil.