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Mold is a major housing issue in wet regions, such as Virginia

Do you take a shower without properly ventilating your bathroom? Do you open your windows instead of running air conditioning to cool your home? Do you have water leaks in your home?

If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, then you have increased moisture levels in your home, which means that you could have an increased risk for mold exposure. According to Capt. Rachel Querido, Chief of Environmental Health at the Kenner Army Health Clinic, said that exposure to indoor mold growth can lead to health problems.

Querido is often called on to perform industrial hygiene and environmental health inspections at military installation workplaces. She said that moisture is one of the most critical factors behind the development and spread of mold.

“You can find it indoors, outdoors, and on food anywhere around the world,” Querido said. “It is typically produced when there is a prolonged presence of moisture and humidity. That is essentially how it grows.”

Mold is naturally occurring. When it grows outdoors, it generally isn’t problematic; in fact, it can be beneficial. It’s when it spreads indoors, colonizes, and grows that it can pose serious issues. The fungi reproduces via microscopic spores floating through the air, and when those spores land on wet surfaces, they begin to grow. In regard to appearance, household molds vary in their description. It can be fuzzy, flat, or raised, and it can be yellow, green, or black. It can also range in shape and size.

According to Querido, residents need to be especially careful when they are cleaning up mold because contact with it releases invisible plumes of spores. When those spores are inhaled, they can cause infections, such as allergy-like symptoms and respiratory infections. She said advises wearing a filtration mask when cleaning up small mold spots, such as in grout or on tile surfaces. Querido advises residents to get professional help for mold patches that are 10 square feet or more in size.

“At that point, you’re going to be dealing with a lot of mold spores, and it’s probably better to let the professionals handle it,” she said. “Just keep away from it and don’t touch it with your feet or hands.”

The presence of mold does not automatically mean that the occupants of a home are at risk of getting sick. “Only about 10 percent of the population is actually allergic to it,” Querido said. “That’s when you will see people suffer from itchy eyes, runny noses, sore throats, and sneezing. In some rare cases, if you have a severe reaction to mold, you could have asthma.”

Reactions to mold growth can either be immediate or they can be delayed. Additionally, there is no conclusive evidence that one type of mold is more toxic than others, but regardless, homeowners should exercise caution.

Mold Inspection & Testing Norfolk has performed countless tests in homes throughout the region. We strongly advise all homeowners who suspect mold growth to arrange for testing from a reputable professional to ensure their safety. To speak with an MI&T representative, call 757.541.2991.