The Missouri Poison Center (MPC) gets calls about mold every season of the year. Questions range from people who are concerned about getting sick after eating mold on food, to breathing mold while living in their homes.
The MPC wants to help you maintain a healthy perspective on the issues of mold because mold is all around us. Molds can be found almost anywhere; they can grow on virtually any substance provided moisture is present. There are molds that can grow on wood, paper, carpet, and foods.
People with allergies like hay fever and asthma may be hypersensitive to mold and may experience allergic reactions and breathing problems. A few molds, in the right conditions, produce “mycotoxins.” These are substances that can make a person sick; however, the available scientific literature concluded there was not enough evidence to determine a casual exposure can increase a person’s risk to become ill. Even if building a mold-free home were possible, maintaing it “mold-free” would be nearly impossible. Mold spores are commonly carried from outside and grow on the surfaces of humans, pets, potted plants, and on foods such as fresh fruit and cheeses. Mold spores also blow in through windows and doors. We routinely encounter mold spores as part of our everyday life indoors and outside.
Tips to control indoor mold growth:
- Control moisture and keep humidity low.
- Fix any water problems. These include dripping pipes, leaks, rain-water coming in through windows, etc.
- Don’t let wet clothing or laundry sit.
- Wet shoes and hats should be dried before they are put away.
- Use the bathroom ventilation system if you have one in your home. It is designed to take moisture out of the house and keep it out of other rooms.
- Cleanliness is vital in controlling mold.
- Keep dishcloths, towels, sponges, and mops clean and fresh. A musty smell means they are spreading mold. Discard items you can’t launder or clean.
- Clean the inside of the refrigerator and washer every few months. Scrub the visible mold on rubber casings.
- Don’t buy moldy foods. Examine food well before you buy it. Notify the store manager about mold on foods!