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Molds and mildews are organisms that reproduce by releasing tiny spores. These spores float through the air, both indoors and outdoors, and will begin growing if they land on a moist organic surface. Molds can grow on a variety of damp host materials, including wood, carpeting, bedding, upholstery, draperies, ceiling tiles, clothing, and paper. Possible signs of mold include a musty or earthy smell, water stains or damage, rot, or visible mold stains.
Negative health effects associated with mold exposure include respiratory problems, nasal stuffiness, eye irritation, asthma and allergic reactions. The only way to eliminate mold is to kill off existing mold spores or colonies, and then control or remove the moisture sources which allow their growth. Other mold-busting strategies include maintaining plumbing and water pipes in good, non-dripping condition; properly venting clothes dryers and bathrooms; using exhaust fans for cooking and dishwashing; and keeping indoor humidity low by using dehumidifiers and air conditioners. In the case of rapid and significant water infiltration into your home, such as occurs in basement flooding, a thorough drying-out process should be undertaken immediately to thwart mold growth.
If you suspect that mold is a problem in your home, SRC's Weathization Assistance Program and Home Performance Solutions can help you find the source by identifying moisture problems, as well as offer recommendations for moisture-source elimination, depending upon your income level.