By: Sarah M. Ellis, Family and Consumer Sciences Extension Agent at UF/IFAS Extension Citrus County
Reviewed by: Randall A. Cantrell, PhD, Department of Family, Youth and Community Sciences, University of Florida
A few weeks ago I attended a conference at Daytona Beach when all of a sudden during a workshop my face became irritated and started itching uncontrollably! Then hives began to break out! I promptly went to my room, took some allergy medicine, and washed my face. About 15 minutes later the itching and hives subsided, but what caused this reaction? I’m pretty certain it was MOLD!
The word MOLD seems to cause panic when mentioned, but why? What are the facts about mold?
It seems every time I turn around I hear someone talking about how bad mold is for your health. It can potentially cause health issues because mold produces allergens, irritants, and even sometimes toxic substance called mycotoxins. If you are sensitive to these, like I am, you might experience an allergic reaction when you inhale or touch mold or mold spores. Allergic reactions can be immediate or delayed, and symptoms can range from a runny nose to red eyes and a skin rash.
Even though mold can potentially cause health issues, there are no EPA or federal maximum limits for mold or mold spores. In fact mold is everywhere! Because mold produces spores, it spreads easily. It can enter your home on your clothing, in your hair, or through an open window or door. Mold thrives in humid environments such as Florida. If mold settles on a wet area within the home, it can quickly grow and spread. Therefore, the best way to prevent the growth of mold and mildew is to keep your home dry and clean.
It is nearly impossible to remove all mold from your home, but you can control the moisture in your home. Daily activities such as cooking, bathing, and cleaning create moisture in a home, but moisture also can enter through a leaky pipe or roof. If water leaks or spills indoors it is important to clean it up quickly because if wet or damp areas are dried within 24 to 48 hours, mold generally will not grow.
You can help reduce the humidity in your home by ensuring your dryer and stove is vented to the exterior of the home, operating your bathroom fan when showering, and keeping your windows closed unless the dew point temperature is below 55°F or the nighttime low temperature is at least 15°F lower than the air conditioning thermostat setting.
For information on controlling mildew: http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/pdffiles/FY/FY79600.pdf
For more information on mold visit: https://www.epa.gov/mold
UF/IFAS Extension photo by Sarah Ellis