Your Home Could Be a Haven for Dangerous Mold - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

Your Home Could Be a Haven for Dangerous Mold

Fisk Elementary is struggling with a mold problem right now, but is mold something you should be looking for in your own home?


Mold experts say yes, especially if there's anyone in your home suffering from chronic respiratory problems, headaches, or nausea.  Those are all possible symptoms of inhaling mold spores.


So what signs should you look for in your home? Heartland News went mold hunting with an expert to find out.  Dr. John Kraemer is a microbiologist at Southeast Missouri State University, and knows just where to find dangerous mold.  So we asked him to demonstrate for us, using a randomly chosen Cape Girardeau home. We didn't know if we'd find any mold, but the owners did tell us that the basement had been flooded last year, possibly creating the kind of moist environment mold thrives in.


“Water leaks are obviously the first thing you look for,” Kraemer explained.  “Look for any kind of moisture accumulation at all.  But keep in mind that mold can enter in from the outdoors just from opening your doors and windows.”  Dr. Kraemer found mold right away in a basement doorway.  It may have gone unnoticed by the untrained eye, appearing as a narrow strip of brown discoloration, right along the edge of the carpet and the wall.  But Kraemer also said there was probably more than we could see.  “I would bet if we pulled this carpeting back, you would see it growing on the backside of the carpeting on the pad.”


Even though it didn't seem like much, Kraemer said that amount of mold could be a health hazard for the family living in the home.  “Because I see it, that tells me that you have a possibility for stirring it up when you walk across the doorway,” he told the homeowner.  “If you have sensitive residents, like asthmatic children, that could be enough to create a health problem.”


Kraemer found another suspicious patch downstairs in some discolored ceiling tiles, where a leak from an upstairs bathroom had created a bit of mold heaven.  “Usually the outside edges of a puddle is where dry meets wet and it has an opportunity to go either way,” he explained, pointing to the darker-stained edges.  “So the mold has plenty of moisture to grow, but its not so swamped that it won't grow.” 


Kraemer says mold also loves attics, bathrooms, and crawl spaces under your home. Anywhere that's warm and moist. So obviously, to make sure mold doesn't take hold, you should keep your home as dry as possible. But how do you get rid of it once you find it?


“If it’s a small patch and it's something you can do yourself, you would use a bleach solution to clean it off as best you can,” Kraemer suggests.  But if the mold is actually growing in the material, like it was in the carpet and ceiling tile of the home we visited, Kraemer says the only way to get rid of the mold is to replace the material. 


Keep in mind that cleaning off mold will actually disturb the spores even more than usual, so you need to wear a face mask and be very careful.  If you think you need professional help, you can contact your local health department. They should be able to give you the name of an environmental company in your area that specializes in identifying and cleaning dangerous molds.


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