The majority of molds that grow indoors are not harmful to humans and present only cosmetic and sanitation concerns. There are some select species of mold, however, that have deleterious health effects on humans and are therefore more dangerous than other molds. Knowing how to remove molds and how to prevent them from growing back in the same spot are an essential part of keeping the home safe from all the harmful effects of mold growth.
Technically speaking, no molds in themselves are toxic, but some molds are capable of producing substances called mycotoxins that are toxic to humans. These species -- including Stachybotrys chartarum, sometimes called black molds -- cause symptoms after prolonged exposure, including cold- and flu-like symptoms, labored breathing, and eye and skin irritation. The elderly, the young and those with diminished immune system function are more at risk to experience these symptoms than is the general population.
Other Mold Types
Stachybotrys chartarum is probably the most dangerous type of mold that grows inside the home, but any part of the home with excess moisture is capable of growing mold. Even if these molds are not of the mycotoxin-producing variety, those with severe mold allergies experience eye, skin, throat and nose irritation when exposed to the mold. Whether a mold is considered dangerous or not depends on the person being exposed to it; it is always best to err on the side of caution and remove it right away.
Mold is easily and safely removed with a few household items. First, scrape away and vacuum up any mold growth and discard it immediately. Treat the area with a commercially available household disinfectant or a solution of 1 cup bleach to 1 quart water. Lastly, and crucially, allow the entire area to dry completely; leaving excess moisture over the growth area simply increases the likelihood that more mold grows there again.
Prevention of Future Mold Growth
Fungal spores that cause mold growth occur everywhere indoors and out, and there is no way to completely remove them. Keep in mind, though, that spores need to land on a moist area to actually form a mold colony, so appliances that produce extra moisture such as air conditioners, plumbing, water heaters and clothes washers need to be inspected and maintained regularly. If one of these appliances introduces extra moisture into a room of the home, the chances are good that mold removal efforts are wasted and more mold is likely to grow in the same area.