Marshall County Health Department Mold Information
What is Mold?
Molds are forms of fungi found year round both indoors and outdoors. Outdoors, molds live in the soil, on plants, and on dead or decaying matter. Another common term for mold is mildew, even though mold and mildew are actually different kinds of fungus. Mold growth is encouraged by warm and humid conditions, although it can grow during cold weather. There are thousands of species of mold, and they can be any color. Many times, mold can be detected by a musty odor. Most fungi, including molds, produce microscopic cells called “spores” that spread easily through the air. Live spores act like seeds, forming new mold growths (colonies) with the right conditions. All of us are exposed to fungal spores daily in the air we breathe.
Should I Be Concerned with Mold in my Home?
Most people have no reaction when exposed to molds. Allergic reactions, similar to common pollen or animal allergies, and irritation are the most common health effects for individuals sensitive to molds. Flu-like symptoms (cough, nasal and sinus congestion, wheezing and breathing conditions, sore throat, skin and eye irritation and upper respiratory problems) and skin rash may occur. Molds may also aggravate asthma. Most symptoms are temporary and can be eliminated by correcting the mold problem. Those with special health concerns should consult their doctor if they are concerned about mold exposure. Symptoms that may seem to occur from mold exposure may be due to other causes, such as bacterial or viral infections or other allergies.
Common places to find mold in your home are window sills, underneath sinks, refrigerator door seals and drain pans, closets, and laundry rooms, near air conditioning systems and on basement walls.
Should I Test my Home for Mold?
Probably not. Looking for evidence of water damage and visible mold growth should be your first step. Testing for mold is expensive, and you should have a clear reason for doing so. In addition, there are no standards for “acceptable” levels of mold in the indoor environment. If you know you have a mold problem, it is more important to spend time and resources getting rid of the mold and solving the moisture problem causing the moldy conditions.
If you are interested in testing for mold contamination buy a home test kit, available at most home-improvement stores.
For information on mold clean up, visit the KY EPA Website