Thursday, September 22, 2011

Mold and your health

Molds On Food: Are They Dangerous?
[From the USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service]
Has a helpful chart showing what foods may be salvaged and what should be discarded.  For example:
Hard cheese - Cut off at least 1 inch around and below the mold spot (keep the knife out of the mold itself so it will not cross-contaminate other parts of the cheese). After trimming off the mold, re-cover the cheese in fresh wrap.
Soft cheese (such as cottage, cream cheese, Neufchatel, chevre) - Discard
Crumbled, shredded, and sliced cheeses (all types) - Discard
Soft fruits and vegetables (such as cucumbers, peaches, tomatoes) - Discard
Hard fruits and vegetables (such as cabbage, bell peppers, carrots) - Cut off at least 1 inch around and below the mold spot (keep the knife out of the mold itself so it will not cross-contaminate other parts of the produce).

A Brief Guide to Mold, Moisture, and Your Home
[From the U.S. EPA]
Includes information on:
   -Mold Basics
   -Mold Cleanup
   -Moisture and Mold Prevention and Control Tips
   -Dealing with Hidden Mold

Facts About Molds
[From the CDC]
What are the potential health effects of mold in buildings and homes?

Mold exposure does not always present a health problem indoors. However some people are sensitive to molds. These people may experience symptoms such as nasal stuffiness, eye irritation, wheezing, or skin irritation when exposed to molds. Some people may have more severe reactions to molds. Severe reactions may occur among workers exposed to large amounts of molds in occupational settings, such as farmers working around moldy hay. Severe reactions may include fever and shortness of breath. Immunocompromised persons and persons with chronic lung diseases like COPD are at increased risk for opportunistic infections and may develop fungal infections in their lungs.

In 2004 the Institute of Medicine (IOM) found there was sufficient evidence to link indoor exposure to mold with upper respiratory tract symptoms, cough, and wheeze in otherwise healthy people; with asthma symptoms in people with asthma; and with hypersensitivity pneumonitis in individuals susceptible to that immune-mediated condition. The IOM also found limited or suggestive evidence linking indoor mold exposure and respiratory illness in otherwise healthy children.

How do you get the molds out of buildings, including homes, schools, and places of employment?

In most cases mold can be removed from hard surfaces by a thorough cleaning with commercial products, soap and water, or a bleach solution of no more than 1 cup of bleach in 1 gallon of water. Absorbent or porous materials like ceiling tiles, drywall, and carpet may have to be thrown away if they become moldy. If you have an extensive amount of mold and you do not think you can manage the cleanup on your own, you may want to contact a professional who has experience in cleaning mold in buildings and homes. It is important to properly clean and dry the area as you can still have an allergic reaction to parts of the dead mold and mold contamination may recur if there is still a source of moisture.

If you choose to use bleach to clean up mold:
   -Never mix bleach with ammonia or other household cleaners.
   -Open windows and doors to provide fresh air.
   -Wear non-porous gloves and protective eye wear.
   -Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions when using bleach or any other cleaning product.