Asthma Trigger: Mold-10 Ways to Prevent Mold Growth

(February 11, 2013)

Molds can be found almost anywhere when moisture is present. Molds create tiny spores to reproduce, just as plants produce seeds. Mold spores float through the indoor and outdoor air continually. When mold spores land on damp places indoors, they may begin growing. For people sensitive to molds, inhaling mold spores can trigger an asthma attack.

Studies show that mold odors in the home can increase the rates of asthma in children up to 2.5 times and exposure to mold during infancy is linked to the development of chronic inflammation of the lung airways, which causes wheezing, shortness of breath, chest tightness, and coughing (Annals of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology).

10 Ways to Prevent Mold Growth in Your Home:

  1. Keep everything clean; keep everything dry.
  2. Fix water leaks from appliances, pipes or the roof as soon as possible.
  3. Keep good ventilation. Use exhaust fans or open a window in the bathroom and kitchen when showering, cooking or washing dishes. Leave a fan on for at least 30 minutes after showering to remove all moisture.
  4. Maintain low indoor humidity, ideally between 30-50% relative humidity. Humidity levels can be measured by hygrometers, which are available at local hardware stores starting at $20.
  5. Dry damp or wet things completely within one to two days to keep mold from growing.
  6. Eliminate clutter. Clutter blocks airflow and prevents air from circulating. Furniture and draperies that block supply grilles cause condensation.
  7. Shut windows and doors when AC is on. When you open windows and doors and invite humid air into your cooler home causing condensation.
  8. Cover crawl space to keep ground water from seeping in. cover crawl space floors with a plastic vapor barrier—6 mil polyethylene (landscapers plastic)—that traps moisture in the ground.
  9. Clean up any standing water immediately. Look for water around the air conditioner, hot water heater, sump pumps, freezers, refrigerators, windows, basements and crawl spaces.
  10. Act quickly if you see condensation on windows, pipes, or walls. Dry out the area and determine if the source of the condensation is from a leak, high humidity or poor insulation.

Cleaning Up Mold:

1.       If mold is a problem in your home, you need to clean up the mold and eliminate sources of moisture.

2.       If you see mold on hard surfaces, clean it up with soap and water. Let the area dry completely.

For more information on preventing and cleaning up mold go to the Environmental Protection Agency’s A Brief Guide to Mold and Moisture in Your Home: http://www.epa.gov/mold/moldguide.html.

The Enhancing Asthma Care Project in Oklahoma is supported by Health Care Service Corporation’s Healthy Kids, Healthy Families Initiative and lead by the American Lung Association in Oklahoma. This joint initiative aims to work with 15 clinics that serve high-risk populations to improve pediatric asthma care to an estimated 30,000 children.