September is Mold Awareness Month, and we know what you’re thinking: that’s way more exciting than football season! Okay, not quite — but even if talking about mold seems boring, it’s one of the most important things to consider for your family’s long-term health.
More than 45 million buildings in the United States have unhealthy levels of mold, and nearly half of all structures have damp conditions that could lead to its development.
What’s more? Around 25 percent of U.S. asthma cases can be attributed to mold exposure. That means over 4 million people suffer from a lifelong diagnosis that could have been prevented.
The health risks of mold exposure
Mold spores produce both allergens and irritants. Prolonged exposure is harmful to anyone’s health, but some people are especially sensitive — infants, the elderly, and those who have a compromised immune system are most at risk for mold-related health complications.
The most common symptoms of mold exposure affect the respiratory system:
- Sore throat
- Difficulty breathing
- Stuffed nose
- Nose bleeds
- Sinus headaches
In otherwise healthy individuals, these symptoms are usually not serious and will go away on their own once the mold is cleaned.
In some cases, mold can cause more extreme problems:
- Skin irritation
- Urinary tract complications
- Severe lung infections
It can be a scary list, but thankfully all of these problems can be avoided by simply preventing mold in the first place.
How to prevent mold from growing in your home
Mold grows well in areas that are damp or water damaged, so your best defense is to keep your home as dry as possible. Pay particular attention to wood and paper surfaces like wallpaper that hold in water especially well.
Here are a few simple ways to keep mold from growing in your home:
- Keep each room’s humidity level around 55 percent, especially in the winter when indoor humidity tends to rise. You can invest in a dehumidifier for around $150 if your home’s humidity becomes a problem.
- Regularly run your bathroom, laundry room, and kitchen fans to properly ventilate any steam.
- Take a few minutes each day to wipe down condensation on the inside of your windows.
- Immediately fix any leaks in your roof, windows, or pipes.
- Promptly clean and dry your spaces after any type of flood. It’s often best to call a professional to make sure the job gets done quickly and thoroughly to avoid future problems.
- Check each room for signs of mold growth at least once a week. Mold grows quickly — it can sometimes develop in as little as 24 hours after moisture begins to accumulate.
If you do find mold growing in your home, don’t panic — you can often clean small spots on your own with a bleach solution. As long as you fix the moisture problem that led to the mold growth in the first place, you shouldn’t experience any lasting complications.
Fall and winter are prime times for mold growth in the Midwest, but staying proactive will protect your family from a range of health risks. We wish you a safe and healthy September — now go check your home’s humidity!