November 9, 2022
FAQs: Indoor Mold
Cynthia Leckey, Director of EH
Viera, Fla. The Florida Department of Health in Brevard County (DOH-Brevard) addresses some of the most common questions related to indoor mold.
How can I tell if there is mold in my house?
- Look for areas where you notice a moldy smell, if it smells earthy or musty, you may have a mold problem.
- Indoor mold growth can usually be seen or smelled.
- Look for visible mold growth, as it can appear cottony, velvety, rough, or leathery and come in different colors such as white, gray, brown, black, yellow, or gray.
- Mold often shows up as a stain or fuzzy growth on furniture or building materials, such as walls, ceilings, or anything made of wood or paper.
- Look for signs of moisture or water damage, such as water leaks, standing water, water stains, and condensation. Check around air handling units, such as air conditioners and furnaces, for standing water
WWho is most affected by mold?
Infants, young children, older adults, people with chronic respiratory conditions, and people with weakened immune systems can be affected earlier and more severely by mold in the home. If you have concerns, you should see a health care provider if you think your health has been affected by indoor mold.
WWhat health problems can mold cause?
There are four types of health problems that come from mold exposure: allergic diseases, irritant effects, infections, and toxic effects. For people who are sensitive to mold, symptoms such as nasal and sinus irritation or congestion, dry cough, wheezing, skin rash or burning, or red, watery eyes may occur. People with severe mold allergies may have more severe reactions, such as hay fever-like symptoms. People with weakened immune systems may be more likely to get infections from certain molds, viruses, and bacteria. Molds can also trigger asthma attacks or cause asthma to develop. Headaches, memory problems, mood swings, nosebleeds, and body aches and pains are sometimes reported in mold complaints. The long-term presence of mold indoors can eventually become a problem. Keep in mind that allergic reactions to mold are common and can be immediate or delayed.
How should mold be cleaned?
Mold should be cleaned up as soon as it appears. People who clean up mold should not be in one of the risk groups listed above. Do not use ozone generators. Protective gloves and safety glasses should be worn during cleanup. Small areas of mold should be cleaned with detergent/soapy water or a commercial mold or mildew cleaner. The cleaned area must be completely dry. Throw away any sponges or rags used to clean up mold. If the mold returns quickly or spreads, it may mean you have an underlying problem, such as a water leak. If there is a lot of mold growth, see the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) brochure “Remediation of Mold in Schools and Commercial Buildings.” Although written about schools and commercial buildings, this document addresses mold in other types of buildings. If moldy material is not easily cleaned, such as drywall, carpet padding, and insulation, it may need to be removed and replaced.
WWho should do the cleaning?
One consideration is the size of the mold problem. If the moldy area is less than 10 square feet, which is less than a 3 foot by 3 foot patch, you can do the cleanup yourself. However, if there was significant water damage and/or mold growth on more than 10 square feet, please refer to the EPA brochure referenced above.
If you choose to hire a contractor, consider someone who is licensed by the State of Florida. The license for a mold appraiser or mold remediator can be verified using the “VERIFY A LICENSE” link on the Florida Department of Business and Professionals web page at www.myfloridalicense.com/wl11.asp. Check references and ask the contractor to follow current EPA recommendations and guidelines from the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH) or other professional or government organizations.
If you think your heating or air conditioning system has been affected, see the EPA guidance documents at “Do you need to clean the air ducts in your house?”. Consult a licensed mechanical or air conditioning contractor for additional information.
WWho can I call if I want more information about mold?
For additional information, call the DOH-Brevard Office of Environmental Health at 321-633-2100 or firstname.lastname@example.org or the Florida Department of Health (DOH) Indoor Air and Radon Program at 800- 543-8279. They can provide guidance and advice on prevention, identifying mold problems, investigation techniques, cleanup methods, disaster planning and messaging, health effects, including potential hazards of mold exposure, and referrals. stakeholders to appropriate local resources.
Where can I get additional information?
More information can be found through the US Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) at www.cdc.gov/mold/default.htm the University of Central Florida, Florida Solar Energy Center in fsec.ucf.edu/en/consumer/buildings/basics/moldgrowth.htmor visit the DOH website at FloridaHealth.gov/indoorair.
About the Florida Department of Health
The department, nationally accredited by the Public Health Accreditation Boardworks to protect, promote, and improve the health of all people in Florida through integrated state, county, and community efforts.