Mold Matters: Kill It Naturally
Heavy rains, leaky pipes and floods can lead to mold growth, which can create poor and even toxic indoor air quality. Irritating the eyes, skin, nose, throat and lungs of both mold-sensitive and non-allergic people, mold can also cause immediate or delayed respiratory symptoms; some can be extremely severe in individuals prone to asthma.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) warns that people with a weakened immune system are at higher risk of health effects from mold, which can also instigate a chronic cough. Toxic reactions can include pulmonary hemorrhaging in infants and memory loss in young children.
A roof leak, burst pipe or malfunctioning water heater can all set the stage for mold to take root, sometimes hidden behind walls and cabinetry. Even in homes that haven’t been damaged by excessive water, mold can be found wherever humidity levels are high, including basements, garages and showers. Proper ventilation and repair of leaky fixtures can help keep mold growth at bay.
According to the CDC, mold growth can be removed from hard surfaces with soap and water. Natural antimicrobials such as plain white vinegar and baking soda are also powerful cleansers; tea tree oil is a natural, antibacterial and antiseptic fungicide that can kill black mold on impermeable surfaces.
Remediation of extensive mold growth on drywall and other permeable building materials is best left to professionals to arrest its spread and prevent toxic spores from becoming airborne. There are many companies that use eco-friendly “green” methods and materials.
If choosing to go the DIY route, sequester the area to be worked on and use specialized HEPA filters and a respirator to avoid inhaling spores. Use protective goggles and gloves throughout the entire process.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency suggests that surface sampling may be useful to determine if an area has been adequately cleaned or remediated. Sampling for mold should be conducted by professionals that have specific experience in designing mold sampling protocols, sampling methods and interpreting results.
This article appears in the June 2019 issue of Natural Awakenings.