The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that 50 percent of schools nationwide have issues linked to poor indoor air quality. In many cases, this condition is linked to mold growth in buildings. Mold poses a serious health risk to individuals with respiratory health issues.
This has been a summer of record high temperatures and humidity across the country. This is a perfect storm for the propagation of mold. As I discussed last year, mold is like a four legged stool. Mold needs four things in order to grow: food, water, oxygen and temperature between 41 and 104 degrees. It is almost impossible to eliminate the potential for molds and mold spores to infiltrate an environment unless you control the elements that give mold it’s ‘legs.’
Controlling the moisture in and around a building is one of the best methods for maintaining a mold-free environment. By following the five “D’s” you can protect against any opportunity for mold growth or infiltration:
De – Leak – Check for leaky roofs, walls, windows, foundations, facets and pipes regularly and repair them as soon as possible.
De – Bubble – Moisture trapped behind wallpaper paired with wallpaper glue is a perfect recipe for potential mold growth.
Dehumidify – Use dehumidifiers and air conditioners, especially in hot, humid climates to reduce moisture in the air. Exhaust fans should be used in bathrooms and kitchens to remove moisture to the outside.
Dry – Clean and dry any damp furnishings within 24 to 48 hours to prevent mold growth.
De – Odor – Keep in mind, if you have had a leak, the first sign of mold may be musty or moldy odors. But do not sniff or touch mold. If you suspect mold, contact a certified mold inspector.
Mold has a long history and a survival instinct that is almost unmatched in nature. But let’s keep mold outside by making sure that moisture is managed in our buildings.
Lucas Hamilton is Manager, Building Science Applications for CertainTeed Corporation