Public Safety - Background Information  
 

 





CDPH has concluded that the presence of water damage, dampness, visible mold, or mold
odor in schools, workplaces, residences, and other indoor environments is unhealthy.
 


We strongly recommend addressing
water damage, dampness, visible mold, and
mold odor by

(a) identification and correction
of the source of water that may allow
microbial growth or contribute to other
problems,

(b) the rapid drying or removal of damp
materials, and (c) the cleaning or removal
of mold and moldy materials, as rapidly
and safely as possible, to protect the
health and well-being of building
occupants, especially children."


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Molds can be found almost anywhere; they can grow on virtually any organic substance, as long as moisture and oxygen are present. There are molds that can grow on wood, paper, carpet, foods, and insulation.

When excessive moisture accumulates in buildings or on building materials, mold growth will often occur, particularly if the moisture problem remains undiscovered or unaddressed. It is impossible to eliminate all mold and mold spores in the indoor environment. However, mold growth can be controlled indoors by controlling moisture indoors.

Ten Things You Should Know About Mold

  1. Potential health effects and symptoms associated with mold exposures include allergic reactions, asthma, and other respiratory complaints.
     
  2. There is no practical way to eliminate all mold and mold spores in the indoor environment; the way to control indoor mold growth is to control moisture.
     
  3. If mold is a problem in your home or school, you must clean up the mold and eliminate sources of moisture.
     
  4. Fix the source of the water problem or leak to prevent mold growth.
     
  5. Reduce indoor humidity (to 30-60%) to decrease mold growth by: venting bathrooms, dryers, and other moisture-generating sources to the outside; using air conditioners and de-humidifiers; increasing ventilation; and using exhaust fans whenever cooking, dishwashing, and cleaning.
     
  6. Clean and dry any damp or wet building materials and furnishings within 24-48 hours to prevent mold growth.
     
  7. Clean mold off hard surfaces with water and detergent, and dry completely. Absorbent materials such as ceiling tiles, that are moldy, may need to be replaced.
     
  8. Prevent condensation: Reduce the potential for condensation on cold surfaces (i.e., windows, piping, exterior walls, roof, or floors) by adding insulation.
     
  9. In areas where there is a perpetual moisture problem, do not install carpeting (i.e., by drinking fountains, by classroom sinks, or on concrete floors with leaks or frequent condensation).
     
  10. Molds can be found almost anywhere; they can grow on virtually any substance, providing moisture is present. There are molds that can grow on wood, paper, carpet, and foods.


 

 


MOLD: Most frequently asked questions


What are the potential health effects of mold in buildings and homes?

Mold exposure does not always present a health problem indoors. However some people are sensitive to molds. These people may experience symptoms such as nasal stuffiness, eye irritation, wheezing, or skin irritation when exposed to molds.

Some people may have more severe reactions to molds. Severe reactions may occur among workers exposed to large amounts of molds in occupational settings, such as farmers working around moldy hay. Severe reactions may include fever and shortness
of breath. Immuno-compromised persons and persons with chronic lung diseases like COPD are at increased risk for opportunistic infections and may develop fungal infections in their lungs.

In 2004 the Institute of Medicine (IOM) found there was sufficient evidence to link indoor exposure to mold with upper respiratory tract symptoms, cough, and wheeze in otherwise healthy people; with asthma symptoms in people with asthma; and with hypersensitivity pneumonitis in individuals susceptible to that immune-mediated condition. The IOM also found limited or suggestive evidence linking indoor mold exposure and respiratory illness in otherwise healthy children.


How do you get the molds out of buildings, including homes, schools, and places of employment?

In most cases mold can be removed from hard surfaces by a thorough cleaning with commercial products, soap and water, or a bleach solution of no more than 1 cup of bleach in 1 gallon of water. Absorbent or porous materials like ceiling tiles, drywall, and carpet may have to be thrown away if they become moldy.

If you have an extensive amount of mold and you do not think you can manage the cleanup on your own, you may want to contact a professional who has experience in cleaning mold in buildings and homes. It is important to properly clean and dry the area as you can still have an allergic reaction to parts of the dead mold and mold contamination may recur if there is still a source of moisture.

If you choose to use bleach to clean up mold:

  • Never mix bleach with ammonia or other household cleaners. Mixing bleach with ammonia or other cleaning products will produce dangerous, toxic fumes.
  • Open windows and doors to provide fresh air.
  • Wear non-porous gloves and protective eye wear.
  • If the area to be cleaned is more than 10 square feet, consult the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) guide titled Mold Remediation in Schools and Commercial Buildings. Although focused on schools and commercial buildings, this document also applies to other building types. You can get it by going to the EPA web site at http://www.epa.gov/mold/mold_remediation.htmlExternal Web Site Icon.
  • Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions when using bleach or any other cleaning product.

 

 

       

 

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