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Stopping mold, mildew can make healthier, happier home

Recent rains and high humidity may produce right conditions for mold and mildew growth in our homes.

Mold in your home can be a serious health hazard. While molds come in a variety of forms, all of them can be potentially harmful to your health. Some molds produce materials that can cause allergic reactions, asthma attacks or other health effects.

Mildew is a thin, often whitish to blueish-green growth produced by molds on many surfaces. Molds are simple plants belonging to the group known as fungi.

Though molds are always present in the air those that cause mildew only need moisture and a certain temperature in order to grow.

Mold and mildew may flourish in areas that are damp, warm, poorly lighted or where air is not circulated including basements, crawl spaces of houses without basements and closets. They also grow on draperies, rugs and shower curtains - anything from which they can get enough food. This includes cellulose products such as cotton, linen, wood and paper and protein substances such as silk, leather and wool.

In addition to an unpleasant musty odor, molds and mildew cause considerable damage if permitted to grow. They discolor fabrics and sometimes eat into them until the fabrics rot and fall apart. Leather, paper and wood also become discolored and are eventually damaged by mold and mildew.

Prevention is the best mildew policy. If things are kept clean, well-ventilated and dry, your chances of having mildew are greatly lessened.

Keep closets, dresser drawers, basements - any place where mildew is likely to grow - as clean as possible. Soil on articles can supply enough food for mildew to start growing when moisture and temperature are right. Greasy films, such as those that form on kitchen walls, also contain many nutrients for mildew-causing molds.

The first step in mildew prevention is to control the dampness inside the home. Cooking, laundering and bathing, without adequate ventilation, adds three gallons of water to the air everyday. Dampness in any structure is caused by condensation of moisture from humid air onto cooler surfaces. Excessive moisture collection may mean that a corrective measure is needed in the attic, crawl space or basement walls. Cool air holds less moisture than warm air. Properly installed air-conditioning systems remove moisture from the air of the living space by taking up warm air, cooling it (removing the moisture) and circulating cool, dry air back into the room. Use dehumidifiers in areas that are not air conditioned, especially the basement. Dry air in closets and other small areas with a continuously-burning electric light (60 to 100-watt bulb). The heat from the bulb will prevent mildew if the space is not too large.

For more information on mold and mildew prevention and removal, give me a call at the Extension Service 595-1815.

Web posted on Thursday, June 16, 2005


Temperature:53° F
Wind:from the W at 5 MPH
Visibility:10 miles
Dew Point:53° F
Updated: 04-Nov-2010 10:01

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