woman cleaning black mold Founded by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, National Mold Awareness Month is observed every September. It brings awareness to the hazardous health effects of mold in the home and commercial buildings. Indoor mold growth is unsafe for pets and humans – especially older people, who are more susceptible to respiratory health problems.

If an aging loved one lives alone, what should you both know about the dangers of mold?

What Is Mold?

Mold is a type of fungus that has benefits for the environment. Outdoor growth helps organic matter decay but indoor growth presents a serious health hazard to occupants.

Mold grows in dark, damp areas with excessive moisture. For instance, basements that have experienced water damage or improperly vented bathrooms.

Signs of Mold

Mold has a musty, old smell that could be mistaken for dust. If you ignore the smell but eventually see mold, the problem has already become serious. Mold spots can appear in a variety of colors, including black, green, gray and white.

If your home recently experienced flooding, water damage or the humidity level is too high, mold could be nearby.

Effects of Mold

Over time, mold growth can cause structural damage to a building. For people and pets, mold spores in the air can lead to the following symptoms:

  • Allergies
  • Sinus Infection
  • Asthma
  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Exhaustion
  • Cancer
  • Liver Damage
  • Death

For people of all ages, it’s important to prevent mold growth in our homes and workplaces.

Tips to Prevent Mold

According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), indoor relative humidity above 70 percent can spark mold growth. The ideal level is between 25 and 60 percent. In addition to keeping an eye on the humidity level, take the following steps to prevent mold:

  • Look for water damage and repair any visible leaks.
  • Seal windows or door frames that show signs of condensation.
  • Use vents and exhaust fans to pull excess moisture from the air.
  • Make sure buildings have proper drainage around the exterior.

Older individuals may be unable to search for leaks and other causes of mold in their homes, so schedule a home inspection on their behalf to protect against the effects of mold.
Avon Health Center is your local source for information on senior health. To learn more about our services, contact us today!