Mold may cause health problems for certain individuals when they are exposed to spores in the air. Molds can produce allergens, irritants, and occasionally toxic substances. Allergic reactions to mold generally result in symptoms similar to those of hay fever, and mold can also cause asthma attacks in asthmatics. Even for people who are not allergic to mold, exposure to mold can irritate the eyes, skin, nose, throat, and lungs. Mold can also cause damage to the surfaces on which it grows. For these reasons, it is important that you remove any mold that may be growing in your building, as well as preventing further mold growth.
The most important step in mold removal and prevention is moisture control. Mold needs moisture to grow, so the best way to permanently get rid of mold is to determine and eliminate the source of excess moisture. Any leaking plumbing should be fixed, and any other sources of moisture should be identified and eliminated. Moisture levels should be monitored consistently in order to maintain a mold-free building.
After the moisture problem is eliminated, the mold can be removed and surfaces treated. How mold should be treated will depend on where the mold is located, as well as how much mold is present. Generally, porous types of material such as cardboard boxes, stuffed animal toys, and similar items that have mold on them should be discarded. Mold is not considered a hazardous waste, so mold-contaminated items can be taken to any landfill. However, it is recommended that you seal mold-contaminated materials in plastic bags to prevent the spread of mold spores. Cloth materials with mold growing on them should be washed in hot water. If they cannot be washed in hot water, they should be discarded.
In general, mold growing on a hard surface that covers an area less than 10 square feet can be removed by washing the surface with soapy water. In some cases, scrubbing with a brush may be necessary to completely remove the mold build-up. The EPA and CDC agree that bleach and other biocides should not be used to remove mold. While these substances will kill and decolorize mold, they will not remove it as well as warm water with detergent. Dead mold can still cause health problems, and it is not necessarily to kill mold to remove it. Any areas of mold growth larger than 10 square feet should be cleaned by a professional. There are also commercially sold products available that will do a good job at removing mold.
It is important to remember that there will always be mold spores present, even in the cleanest house. Even if all mold spores could be removed from a building, spores from the outside will continue to enter the building. Mold must have moisture to grow. Be sure to keep humidity levels low to keep mold from growing.