Mildew is a black, grimy mold growth that is found in many homes worldwide. It usually grows in high moisture areas, like bathrooms and basements. Certain chemicals may be used to treat and neutralize mold and mildew buildup. However, as in most cases, the best treatment is prevention. Mold releases spores in the air and can lead to various respiratory problems if inhaled in large quantities. Therefore, it is important to control mold and mildew growth within your home especially if there are children present.
Mold and Mildew
Mold and mildew are fungal growths. As such, they live off organic material and reproduce by releasing spores. These microscopic spores, light enough to float through the air, will produce new mold growths if they land on organic material. The optimal environment for mold and mildew growth is one that is damp (relative humidity above 60 percent), dark and warm and has poor air circulation.
Controlling the factors that encourage mold growth is the most important part of prevention or continual treatment. The two main factors are moisture control and cleanliness.
One of the first steps in preventing mold and mildew in your home is lowering the moisture level. Repair any leaky pipes and fully water proof your basement. Proper ventilation will also reduce humidity; turn on a fan and open windows when running a shower or in areas of regular humidity. Air conditioners and dehumidifiers will both do the job. Also, never leave damp clothing or fabrics lying around. If you are experiencing advanced humidity problems, chemicals like silica gel and activated alumina may be used to absorb moisture in the air.
Since mold and mildew feed on biological material, it is important to keep the surfaces within your home clean. Pay special attention to bathroom and kitchen surfaces, like tile and linoleum. Always clean up spilled food and liquids right away. Keeping up on laundry will reduce mildew on your clothes; soiled fabrics are much more susceptible to mold growth.
Mold and mildew growth on fabrics should be immediately brushed off outside then promptly washed. If mildew is still present after laundering, articles may need to be rewashed with bleach. Fungicidal sprays and cleaners may be used to remove mildew from household surfaces. Mildew and mold growth on walls can also usually be neutralized with a weak bleach solution (1 cup of bleach per gallon of water). Trisodium phosphate mixed with water will also help remove mold. Test any cleaners on a discrete area of the surface you plan to clean. Use the solution to wipe off all visible growths; then wipe clean with water and dry the area. If mildew has grown into painted surfaces you will need to remove the paint before treating.
Mold spores in the air may lead to a number of health problems. Allergic reactions, like coughing, sneezing, headache, itchy eyes and the like are the most common. Mildew and mold spores may also infect people with compromised immune systems, like those with HIV. Some types even release mycotoxins, which can lead to severe toxic sickness, even death. Those with asthma or existing allergy problems may be extra sensitive to respiratory issues caused by mold.
- Photo Credit "Old dirty wall with brick hole." is Copyrighted by Flickr user: árticotropical (Leonardo Aguiar) under the Creative Commons Attribution license.
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