Controlling mold by controlling moisture

  • Published
  • By Capt Timothy A. Brathwaite
  • Chief, Bioenvironmental Engineering Element
Vance has experienced an increase in mold "sightings" as warm, heavy rains and humid weather has settled in, causing dormant spores to grow.

Molds have been on the earth for millions of years and grow where there is moisture. However, its effects can be reduced by practicing proper prevention and control techniques.

Most mold problems can be prevented or eliminated in a home by creating an atmosphere that is not conducive to growth. It is impossible to get rid of all mold and mold spores indoors because some spores are found floating through the air, in dust or on various surfaces.

Indoor mold growth can be prevented or controlled by:
· Controlling moisture indoors by keeping humidity levels below 70 percent,
· Ensuring proper ventilation within the building,
· Promptly fixing leaky roofs, windows and pipes,
· Cleaning up and drying out the building thoroughly and quickly, within 24 -- 48 hours,
· Adding mold inhibitors to paints before using,
· Cleaning bathrooms and surfaces with mold-killing products, and
· Performing scheduled heating and air conditioning inspections and maintenance, including filter changes.

To remove mold growth from hard surfaces use commercial products, soap and water, or a bleach solution of no more than one cup of bleach in one gallon of water. Use a stiff brush on rough surface materials such as concrete and remove all porous items that have been wet for more than 48 hours and cannot be thoroughly cleaned and dried. 

Porous items can remain a source of mold growth and should be removed from the home. Porous, non-cleanable items include carpeting and carpet padding, upholstery, wallpaper, drywall, floor and ceiling tiles, insulation material, some clothing, leather, paper, wood, and food. Removal and cleaning are important because even dead mold may cause allergic reactions in some people.

Exposure to damp and moldy environments may cause mild to moderate health effects or none at all. For people sensitive to mold, health effects may include nasal stuffiness, throat irritation, coughing or wheezing, eye irritation, or, in some cases, skin irritation.

Those with identified mold allergies may have more significant reactions and should stay away from areas that are likely to have mold, such as compost piles, cut grass, and wooded areas.

Mold "sightings" in Vance facilities should be directed to the building manager so appropriate steps can be taken. For more information on mold go to or