- Moisture in the Home
- Mold, Reducing Your Exposure to
- Mold and Your Health
- Indoor Environmental Quality: Testing Should Not be the First Step
- Cleaning Up After Flood and Sewer Overflows
Does IDPH test for mold?
Who can test for mold?
Citizens can find individuals or companies that perform mold testing by looking under “Environmental Services” in the Yellow Pages of their telephone book. IDPH recommends looking for individuals or companies that employ certified industrial hygienists or persons who work under the supervision of industrial hygienists.
Citizens also may search the Internet for individuals or companies that do this kind of work. The American Industrial Hygiene Association provides a list of its members at http://www.aiha.org . Citizens may search the list of certified industrial hygienists by specialty, state and location (i.e., residential, commercial or both).
Should I have my home or business tested for mold?
IDPH does not recommend testing for mold (see the fact sheet “Indoor Environmental Quality: Testing Should Not Be the First Step”). If mold growth is visible, testing is not needed to identify what type or level of mold is present. Mold testing also is not typically useful in determining what steps to take for cleanup.
If you can see or smell mold, testing is usually not necessary. It is likely that there is a source of moisture that needs to be fixed and the mold needs to be cleaned or removed. Even if testing is done, no standards or guidelines exist to judge acceptable amounts of mold. Testing cannot determine whether health effects will occur.
What is Stachybotrys?
What are the health effects of mold exposure?
Many molds can cause adverse health effects. Molds produce allergens, irritants and, sometimes, toxins that may cause adverse reactions in humans. A reaction to mold depends on how much a person is exposed to, the general health and age of a person and the person’s sensitivities or allergies. The same amount of mold may cause health effects in one person, but not in another.
Exposure to mold can cause a variety of symptoms. Sensitive people who have touched or inhaled mold or mold spores may have allergic reactions such as a runny nose, sneezing, nasal congestion, watery eyes, skin rash and itching. Molds can trigger asthma attacks in people who are allergic to molds, causing wheezing, chest tightness and shortness of breath. A disease like pneumonia also may develop after exposure to mold, but this is uncommon.
How can I clean areas of mold in my home or business?
Find and fix the source of excess moisture. Any mold cleanup or remediation plan that does not address underlying moisture problems will ultimately fail.
Heavily damaged, porous materials (such a carpeting or drywall) that cannot be thoroughly dried and cleaned should be discarded and replaced. Non-porous surfaces and porous materials that cannot be removed should be cleaned using a soap or detergent solution. Areas that have been cleaned also may be disinfected using a diluted bleach solution (no more than 1 cup of bleach per 1 gallon of water), but it is critical that all visible mold growth and soiling are cleaned off using a soap or detergent solution before applying a disinfectant. Bleach will be less effective if dirt and visible mold are not removed first.
Minimize dust and debris when removing moldy drywall, carpet, and other materials by misting surfaces with water. Do not dry scrape or sand surfaces contaminated with mold, and do not use hammers when removing drywall.
Water-damaged materials and debris should be double-bagged, sealed, and the bag wiped clean prior to removal from work areas. This will help to prevent mold spores from spreading to other, uncontaminated areas.
Provide continuous ventilation, especially when cleaning agents or disinfectants are used.
Wear rubber gloves and protective clothing that are easily cleaned or discarded. In addition, wear a properly fitted N95 or HEPA respirator mask. These masks can be purchased for a minimal cost at a hardware store. To prevent eye irritation, wear goggles without ventilation holes.
Isolate work areas using methods similar to those used for lead or asbestos abatement. This should include critical barriers that block all openings, and heating, ventilating, and air-conditioning (HVAC) system components to prevent the spread of hazardous materials into surrounding areas, and negatively pressurizing the work areas from surrounding areas. The HVAC system also should be shut down during removal activities.
Clean all surfaces within the work areas to remove settled dust or debris prior to taking apart critical barriers. Surfaces in surrounding areas also can be cleaned, if necessary, after taking apart the critical barriers. Use cleaning methods, products and devices that are known to be successful in the cleanup of mold contaminated dusts, such as HEPA vacuums and diluted bleach solutions.
Surfaces should be cleaned by HEPA vacuuming until surface dust is no longer visible. After vacuuming, surfaces should be wet cleaned with a soap or detergent solution. If a residue remains, it should be vacuumed. Cleaning can be followed by disinfection with a diluted bleach solution (no more than 1 cup of bleach per 1 gallon of water). It is critical that all visible mold growth and soiling are cleaned off using a soap or detergent solution before applying a disinfectant. Bleach will be less effective if dirt and visible mold are not removed first.
Allow complete drying of all materials wet from excess moisture, cleaning activities, or disinfection.
- Provide continuous ventilation, especially when cleaning agents or disinfectants are used.
Are there professionals that perform mold cleanup?
Does IDPH license individuals to perform mold testing or cleanup?
Does Illinois have laws that pertain to mold?
I have mold in my apartment and my landlord won’t address the situation. Can you help?
Will you inspect my home or apartment?
What about schools?
Where can I find more information about indoor mold and health?
http://www.epa.gov/iaq/molds/moldguide.html or http://www.cdc.gov/mold/dampness_facts.htm