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How to prevent mold from growing in your carpets

According to a recent study, dust, moisture, and certain fiber types lead to fungal growth.

Carpeting in locations where moisture levels are elevated are prime spots for mold growth. Bath mats on a bathroom floor, shag carpeting under a humidifier in a bedroom, or an area rug under a leaking air conditioner are just some examples of locations when mold growth can occur in carpeting.

The study also found that dust and the materials that the carpeting is made of can also lead to mold growth. Dust and mold growth can then be send into the air when the affected carpets are walked on, which can then contribute to exposure.

The study was published in the journal Building and Environment. A team of researchers from The Ohio State University’s Indoor Environmental Quality Laboratory discovered that carpets that have high concentrations of dust were more likely to grow mold than carpets that have low concentrations of dust.

The research team discovered that fungi buried itself deeply in the fibers of carpeting and rugs that are made of natural materials, such as wool or cotton.

“In this study we looked at olefin, nylon, and wool – two synthetic fibers and one natural,” said Karen Dannemiller, the assistant professor of civil, environmental, and geodetic engineering and environmental health sciences at Ohio State University and the senior author of the research paper.

Dannemiller said that the research team did discover that there were some indications that the fungi may be using the wool material as a source of carbon. She said that the fungi burrowed its way into the wool fibers of the carpet in a manner that it did not do with the fibers of the synthetic carpets.

The majority of carpeting in the United States is made of synthetic materials.

Dannemiller and her lab focuses on indoor environments where people spend most of their time; homes, offices, and schools.

For this particular study, the research team wanted to gain an understanding of what causes mold growth in carpeting. They also wanted to determine what type of protective measures people could take in order to reduce or prevent mold growth.

According to Dannemiller, the most important factor that lead to mold growth – and that needs to be managed – is moisture. Moisture levels should be kept between 30 and 50 percent humidity to avoid mold growth, says the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). While research has found that those levels can prevent mold growth, it is difficult to maintain those levels in moisture-prone rooms, such as bathrooms. Additionally, carpets and other types of porous surfaces can retain moisture for long periods of time, increasing the risk of mold growth.

For instance, if someone walks on a carpet after taking a shower, the carpeting can retain the moisture for a prolonged period of time, and eventually mold can grow.

Mold Inspection & Testing Cleveland has vast experience performing mold tests in commercial and residential buildings. We encourage all property owners to arrange to have mold testing on a regular basis to prevent potential health complications. To speak with an MI&T representative, please call 212.202.0082.

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