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Mold Information

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Published on April 19, 2017. Last modified on October 21, 2019

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Molds reproduce by tiny particles called spores. The spores are light and travel on air currents. If they find a suitable surface, they begin to grow. Molds are simple , microscopic organisms whose purpose in the ecosystem is to break down dead material. Most of the molds found indoors, actually came from outdoors. Some molds are useful in making antibiotics and cheese.

What does mold need to grow?

mold2Mold needs:

  • an organic food source such as leaves, paper, wood or dirt
  • a source of moisture
  • room temperature conditions

What are some sources of moisture in my home?

Many sources can cause moisture in your home, including:

  • flooding
  • leaky roofs
  • Humidifiers
  • damp basement or crawl spaces
  • constant plumbing leaks
  • clothes dryers vented indoors

Should I be concerned about mold in my home?

Exposure to any mold could cause health effects under the right conditions (e.g., allergic symptoms such as watery eyes, running nose, itching, coughing, wheezing, difficulty breathing, sneezing, nasal congestion, headache and fatigue) . The same amount of mold may cause health problems for one person, but not another, because some people are more sensitive to molds than others.

Those most often sensitive are:
  • Infants and children
  • The elderly
  • Immune compromised patients (i.e., people with HIV infection, cancer, liver disease, etc., or who are undergoing chemotherapy)
  • Individuals with existing respiratory conditions, such as allergies and asthma.

Testing for Mold in my home

Mold can also cause structural damage to your home. Testing for molds is very difficult and expensive and homeowners must hire a contractor to test their homes. Mold is normally found outdoors and counts fluctuate from day to day depending on the season. Testing can not determine whether health problems will occur. Even if testing is done, no standards exist for mold testing to judge what is acceptable amounts of mold. Due to the uncertainties associated with testing of molds, it is not recommended in most cases. If you can see or smell mold, testing is usually not necessary. It needs to be cleaned up.

Cleaning Up Mold

  • clean_up_moldMix a household cleaner without ammonia with hot water and scrub affected areas.
  • Wear gloves when handling moldy materials. Use a stiff brush or cleaning pad on block walls or uneven surfaces.
  • Rinse clean with water.
  • Disinfect the area with a solution of water and bleach (1/2 cup bleach per gallon of water). Straight bleach will not be more effective. When mixing or using solution, make sure the windows are open. NEVER MIX BLEACH WITH AMMONIA; THE FUMES ARE TOXIC.
  • Allow the disinfecting areas to dry naturally for 2-3 days. This extended time is important to kill all the mold.

Reduce exposure while cleaning up

  • Shut off heat or air conditioning to prevent mold spores from being spread around the home.
  • Anyone with a chronic illness, such as asthma or emphysema, should not do the cleanup.
  • Wear protective clothing that is easily cleaned or disposable.
  • Work over short periods, take breaks often and in a fresh air location.
  • Use a HEPA filter mask to reduce the mold spores you inhale.
  • Do not allow bystanders to be present while you are doing the cleanup.
  • Open windows in your house during and after the cleanup.

Downloadable Resources & Helpful links

Document Description
Mold FAQ Brochure: Detection, Testing, Reactions, & Prevention.
Information about Mold from the Monterey County Health Department.           

Moho en mi casa: ¿Qué hago?

Un folleto actualizado que brinda información básica a personas que han tenido daños causados por el agua en el hogar. El folleto describe asuntos de salud relacionados con la exposición al moho y ofrece guías generales sobre la prevención y detección del moho e información para limpiar materiales contaminados por el moho
Mold in My Home: What Do I Do? Info sheet providing basic information to people who have experienced water damage to their home. It describes health concerns related to mold exposure, and it also provides general guidelines on prevention, mold detection, as well as cleanup of mold-contaminated materials.
Prepare for clean-up Downloadable PDF from EPA regarding Flood Clean Up
www.epa.gov/mold EPA's website for Mold information

Information for Renters

Are you a renter and need to know more about what your landlord is responsible for? Click here to download California tenants: Guide to residential tenants' and landlords' rights and responsibilities .

Submit a Question or Concern

Do you have a question or concern? Submit it here Environmental Health Concern Form