MOLD AND INDOOR AIR QUALITY INFORMATION
Mold, mildew, dampness, and air quality in a private residence is not in the scope of the local health department. However, Orange County Environmental Health wants every inquiry to get the best answer.
Molds are a natural part of the environment, but mold growth indoors results when there is excessive moisture infiltration and accumulation, particularly if the moisture problem remains undiscovered or unaddressed.
Molds and mildew are terms used to describe a fungi that may appear as a growth on the surface of organic materials in damp conditions, both outdoors and indoors. Molds and mildews can be a rainbow of colors and may have a fuzzy texture.
Key concept: Indoor mold growth can be controlled by controlling moisture.
There are a variety of sources for outside assistance for homeowners, homeowners associations, and residents. A quick internet search will bring up consultants and contractors, that include mold professionals, Licensed Home Inspectors, Pest Control Professionals for Wood Destroying Organisms, Residential Services Energy Network (RESNET), the Certified Home Energy Raters Building Performance Institute, heating and air-conditioning contractors, and health care providers.
For property that is not owner-occupied, address your property owner or manager with observations. In the case of severe dampness and water damage with mold growth, other assistance is available by contacting the Code Enforcement staff in the jurisdiction of the residence.
Town of Hillsborough: 919-296-9600
Town of Carrboro: 919-918-7336
Town of Mebane: 919-563-9990
Orange County: 919-245-2600
Where should you be looking for mold growth?
Where Does Mold Grow? is a web page that describes the situations where mold can become a problem. Dampness and mold growth can be found in many places. Look for leaks, broken shingles, and standing water on flashing, gutters, and downspouts. Are there overhanging tree branches that scrape the roof? Loose blocks and brick joints can allow water to penetrate to crawl spaces and basements. Check out the windows, seal as needed, and repair cracked panes. Landscaping where water does not slope to drain away from foundations can give trouble. On the inside of the home, anywhere there is a water using fixture or appliance, there is a chance for a leak. In many cases, air conditioning mechanical units and vents are a hidden source of mold growth.
Should you test for mold?
It is important to note the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) does not recommend mold testing as first step to assess problems. Furthermore, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) does not recommend routine mold testing for persons sensitive to mold exposure. However, clearance testing by independent contractors can be accomplished with a Certified Mold inspector or a Certified Mold Remediation Contractor.
Got mold and now how to clean up mold?
1. Identify and correct moisture source(s).
2. Control moisture at the beginning, during, and at the end of a mold-growth removal project.
3. Remove the mold through physical removal/ replacement or washing mold covered areas. According to the NC Department of Public Health, while disinfectants and biocides may kill mold spores and take away their ability to reproduce, these products should not be used alone in addressing a mold-growth problem.
4. Always wear protective personal equipment.
Should you clean it or remove it?
- For each item, ask these questions:
- How absorbent is the material?
- How extensive is the mold growth?
Non-porous materials (such as metals, glass and hard plastics) and semi-porous materials (wood, plaster and concrete) that are visibly moldy but structurally sound can usually be cleaned and reused.
Moldy porous materials (carpeting, wallboard, ceiling tile, wallpaper, fabric, upholstered furniture, mattresses) should usually be discarded, since they absorb and hold moisture, may be internally moldy, and cannot be completely cleaned and thoroughly dried.
- CDC Info on the Health Effects of Mold
- Orange County Healthy Homes
- NC Healthy Homes Taskforce
- Cleaning tips from NCDHHS
- EPA Mold Resources
- NC Landlord Responsibilities
- Are you a property owner or a property manager or from an agency that advocates for tenants? Learn more about managing inquiries about dampness and mold growth here. This presentation was provided by NCOEEB.