Michigan Department of Community Health Toxics and Health Hotline
What are molds?
Molds are microscopic fungi that live on plant or animal matter. No one knows how many species of fungi exist, but estimates range from tens of thousands to perhaps three hundred thousand or more. Most are filamentous organisms and the production of spores is characteristic of fungi in general. These spores can be air-, water-, or insect-borne.
What are some of the common indoor molds?
Cladosporium, penicillium, alternaria, aspergillus, and mucor.
How do molds affect people?
Some people are sensitive to molds. For these people, exposure to molds can cause symptoms such as nasal stuffiness, eye irritation, or wheezing. Some people, such as those with serious allergies to molds, may have more severe reactions. Severe reactions may occur among workers exposed to large amounts of molds in occupational settings, such as farmers working around moldy hay. Severe reactions may include fever and shortness of breath. People with chronic illnesses, such as obstructive lung disease, may develop mold infections in their lungs.
Where are molds found?
Molds are found in virtually every environment and can be detected, both indoors and outdoors, year-round. Mold growth is encouraged by warm and humid conditions. Outdoors they can be found in shady, damp areas or places where leaves or other vegetation are decomposing. Indoors they can be found where humidity levels are high, such as in basements or showers.
What areas have high mold exposures?
- Antique shops
- Construction Areas
- Flower Shops
- Summer Cottages
How can people decrease mold exposure?
Sensitive individuals should avoid areas that are likely to have mold, such as compost piles, cut grass, and wooded areas. Inside homes, mold growth can be slowed by keeping humidity levels below 40 percent and ventilation showers and cooking areas. Mold growth can be removed with commercial products or a weak bleach solution (1 cup of bleach in 1 gallon of water). In situations where mold exposure is unavoidable, sensitive people should wear a tight-fitting face mask.
- Repair any water leaks.
- Keep the humidity level in the house below 40 percent.
- Use an air conditioner or a dehumidifier during humid months.
- Be sure the home has adequate ventilation, including exhaust fans in kitchen and bathrooms.
- Add mold inhibitors to paints before application.
- Clean bathrooms with mold killing products.
- Do not carpet bathrooms and basements.
- Remove or replace previously soaked carpets and upholstery.
Additional information on fungi and fungal disease visit:
For more information contact your local health department.
Shiawassee County Health Department Environmental Division
201 N. Shiawassee St.
Corunna, Michigan 48817