by Wayne Parsons of Wayne Parsons Law Offices

Mold exposure can cause various adverse health effects, including sneezing, congestion, eye and throat irritation, coughing or wheezing, worsening of asthma symptoms and skin irritation. Vulnerable populations, such as those with mold allergies, chronic lung diseases or immunocompromising conditions, may develop even more severe symptoms when exposed to certain types of mold. Considering this, what should you do if you find mold in your home or workplace?

What is Mold?

Mold is a term for many species of fungi, most of which tend to have a patchy, fuzzy appearance. Different species come in various colors, including black, brown, yellow, pink and green. Mold and its spores are everywhere in our environment, but they all need moisture to grow. That means mold is more likely to be found in wet, damp places like the shower, toilet tank, bathroom rugs, behind the refrigerator, under the sink, on window sills, in air conditioning and heating vents, behind curtains, in a chimney, on indoor plants, in the attic and the basement.

Active-growing mold can damage the material it lives on and cause respiratory symptoms like those listed above. Some types of mold, however, called “toxic mold,” can be even more harmful, as they release toxins in the air that can cause “Sick Building Syndrome,” anxiety and brain fog in specific individuals.

Ask Yourself These 5 Questions about Mold

  1. Are you experiencing symptoms? These are primarily respiratory symptoms such as coughing or wheezing but may also include eye and throat irritation, sleeping problems and difficulty concentrating. If you notice these symptoms, realize that in addition to any mold you might be able to see, there could be hidden mold.
  2. Can you get rid of mold on your own? If the mold is limited to a small space, such as the corner of your shower or bathtub, and if it’s on an easy-to-clean surface like glass, metal, tile or a sink, you can probably clean it yourself. Wear protection, including rubber gloves, a mask (to filter out mold spores) and eye protection. Use a non-ammonia soap or detergent and a brush to remove as much of the mold as possible, then use bleach to remove the rest and to stop future growth. Wet the surface with a mixture of bleach and water, let it soak for 15 minutes, then scrub again and rinse. Keep the area well-ventilated while you’re working, and wash your clothes when you’re finished. Adding some white vinegar to the wash will help kill any mold on your clothes.
  3. Is something leaking? Mold is usually present because there is too much moisture in the area. Whenever you find mold, it’s crucial to discover why it’s there. If you don’t, it will likely grow again. Look for any plumbing leaks that may be occurring and consider calling a plumber to investigate. Leaks under the sink, around windows, roof, and basement can all lead to mold.
  4. Is it time to call a professional? If the mold occurs in more than one location, covers a medium-to-large area, exists in a hard-to-clean area (inside the walls or in the heating system), or if you’re unsure what mold it is, you should consider hiring a mold professional. Suppose you or someone in the household is sensitive to mold or has other respiratory or immunocompromising conditions. In that case, allowing a mold-removal expert to care for the problem is particularly important.A professional can test the mold to find out what kind it is and thoroughly inspect your home to find anywhere else it may be hiding. They can also help you identify any issues contributing to mold growth.
  5. Which mold-removal expert should I hire? When looking for a mold removal expert, you should take a few precautions. First, look for a licensed professional who is trained and certified to work in your home or office. Read company reviews on Google, Facebook, Angie’s List and other trusted review websites.Next, ask for a free home inspection and price quote from two or more professionals, then compare them before determining which one to go with Ask Questions Like the Following:
    • Are you certified for mold removal?
    • How long have you been in business?
    • What sort of experience do you have?
    • Are you insured for work like this?
    • Do you conduct background checks on employees?

Finally, if the mold results from a covered danger like a fire or bursting pipe, your insurance may reimburse you for the cleanup.