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Home » Health Department » Mold
Mold is a type of fungus that spreads via spores. Mold can be found both indoors and outdoors. Floating mold spores may be carried into your home by open doors and windows, your HVAC system, on your clothes, or by a household pet. Molds can grow on a variety of surfaces. Here are a few key things to know about mold:
Mold grows in the presence of moisture.
Most molds are not harmful to people. However, growing molds may produce allergens, irritants, and potentially toxic substances (mycotoxins).
Molds usually appear as colored, woolly mats and have a musty, earthy smell.
There are no federal, state, or local standards for an unsafe amount of mold in an indoor environment.
For a printable version of this information, click here.
Mold grows best in warm, damp and humid conditions. It can grow from any moisture source including:
Leaks from pipes, windows, or roofs
Bathtubs, showers, and sinks
Spoiled food in refrigerators
Heating/ventilation/air conditioning (HVAC) system
Materials like wood, upholstered furniture, sheetrock, plaster, wallpaper and carpet, glass, plastic and even metal and stone may provide enough nutrients for molds to grow.
After a leak, dry the wet or damp area as soon as possible so mold does not grow.
The best way to prevent mold from growing is to control moisture indoors. Mold loves moisture. Here are some tips to prevent moisture and mold growth in your home:
Dry any leaks or spilled water as soon as possible
Air conditioning (A/C) or dehumidifiers will remove excess moisture from the air
Increase air flow by running fans and/or opening doors and windows
Ensure that all vents go to the exterior of your home - not to the attic or crawlspace
Run the bathroom fan or open a window when showering
Use stove top fans or open windows when cooking or running the dishwasher
In the event of a power outage, dispose any spoiled food in your refrigerator. During long-term outages, remove all perishable food items and keep the fridge door propped open. Doing so will prevent mold from taking over your fridge!
Keep plenty of cleaning supplies on hand to remove any mold you see - soap and water, gloves, eye protection, etc.
Mold may trigger asthma episodes for those who have it. Infants with long-term mold exposure have an increased likelihood of developing asthma. Symptoms of mold exposure may include:
Stuffy nose, itchy eyes and skin, cough, or wheezing.
If you have asthma, your symptoms may worsen.
More severe symptoms include fever, shortness of breath and possible mold infections in the lungs.
Vulnerable populations, such as children, the elderly, those with lung disease, or the immunocompromised may experience more severe symptoms when exposed to mold. Take extra precautions to prevent mold growth if you or someone you live with falls into this category.
If you or someone you know begins to experience symptoms of mold exposure, quickly remove the person from the mold-affected area. If symptoms continue or get worse, see a doctor.
Note: Molds can have a variety of textures and colors. Exposure to any mold may have serious health effects. The EPA does not recommend testing mold. If mold is present, the best course of action is to clean it.
Renters, if you believe mold is a problem in your unit that isn't being addressed, contact Southeast Louisiana Legal Services to learn more about your rights and responsibilities.
It's important to clean mold as soon as it's discovered to prevent further growth. To do so safely, here are some tips:
Remove and throw away all materials that cannot be cleaned, such as wallboard, fiberglass and cellulose insulation.
Clean all remaining materials and allow the area to thoroughly dry.
Clean hard surfaces with soap and water
A bleach solution of no more than 1 cup of bleach per 1 gallon of water may also be used.
Never mix bleach with ammonia or other household cleaners. Doing so may cause health hazards worse than the mold you're cleaning!
Open doors and windows.
Wear rubber gloves and protective eye wear.
Wear a protective mask.
For large cleanups, contact licensed contractors.
Center for Disease Control: www.cdc.gov/mold/
Environmental Protection Agency: www.epa.gov/mold
Louisiana Department of Health: new.dhh.louisiana.gov/index.cfm/faq/category/41
Southeast Louisiana Legal Services: Home - SLLS
Hiring a mold remediation contractor
Last updated: 3/7/2023 9:37:17 AM
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