Mold Spores and Indoor Air Quality
Mold is part of the natural environment. Outdoors, mold play a part in nature by breaking down dead organic matter such as fallen leaves and dead trees, but indoors, mold growth should be avoided. Mold can reproduce by means of tiny spores; the spores are invisible to the naked eye and float through outdoor and indoor air. Mold can grow indoors when the spores land on something that is wet. There are many types of mold, and none of them will grow without moisture.
Different types of mold- black mold, toxic mold, and allergenic mold are present around us all the time and in the air we breathe. Mold and mold spores in low levels are generally harmless. However, when their levels increase they can affect people with allergies, asthma and respiratory conditions or suppressed immune systems.
Mold can be found wherever moisture and oxygen are present. They thrive at room temperature making them troublesome inside the home where they can be found in the closet, bathroom, refrigerator, pillow, furniture, etc. Mold allergies are caused by inhaled mold spores or inhaled garments of mold growths. Mold spores may lodge in the pathways of the upper respiratory system or in the lungs themselves and cause irritation.
Signs of Mold
Symptoms of mold allergy are similar to other allergies, including nasal congestion, sneezing, watery and itching eyes, rashes, breathing difficulties, etc. Individuals who have mold allergies may be more susceptible to other types of allergies or infections. Some common reasons to suspect you have a mold problem include:
- You suffer allergic symptoms when indoors but not outdoor
- You notice a mold smell
- You have had a water problem - flooding, leaking pipes or roof
- A lot of condensation in your home
If you have a mold problem in your home the first step should always be to have the mold removed. If the growth is larger than 10 square feet it is always best to hire a professional mold removal service.
Best Air Purifier for Mold
An air purifier can be a great help if you have mold allergens. Air purifiers filter mold spores and other allergens out of the air to help stop allergies. They also help to prevent mold growth in the future. The best type of air purifier for mold usually has a HEPA filter and an activated carbon filter that works to remove both small particles and chemical gases from the air. The HEPA filter can effectively capture 99.97% of 0.3 micron particles and mold spores are usually between 1-20 microns large. The activated carbon filter removes mold odor because it can absorb VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds), gases emitted from mold that cannot be removed by a HEPA filter. Used together, HEPA and carbon activated filters are effective in relieving the symptoms of mold allergies.
It is key to understand that air purifiers do not kill mold that is already growing on surfaces; they just get rid of mold spores floating in the air. This means that proper cleaning and getting rid of mold is essential to protecting yourself from mold toxins and allergens. Even after you’ve had a mold problem fixed there will always be tiny mold spores leftover in the air and blowing in from outside too. Therefore, an air purifier in your home will minimize airborne mold spores and ensure that the air you breathe is clean and healthy. In addition to using an air purifier to remove airborne mold spores, you can do the following to reduce your exposure to potentially harmful molds:
- Remove carpet in bathrooms and replace with tile or lineoleum
- Clean bathrooms and shower stalls frequently with mold-killing cleaning solutions
- Turn your exhaust fan on in the bathroom when showering, and in the kitchen when cooking
- Vent your clothes dryer outside of the home
- Use a dehumidifier in the summer if the humidity in your home exceeds 50%
- Make sure clothes are well dried before they are put away in closets or dressers
- Use paints with mold inhibitors
- Repair any water leaks in basements quickly
- Make sure gutters and downspouts direct rain water away from the foundation so it does not seep into the home through cracks in the foundation
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