What is mold and where does it grow?
Mold breaks down plant and animal matter and can grow almost anywhere there is moisture and organic material including in homes. Molds release spores to reproduce which then spread through air, water, or on animals so basically they are everywhere.
Prevention of mold growth
Identifying and controlling moisture is the key to preventing mold growth. Some of the most common sources of moisture include Roof leaks, Indoor plumbing leaks, Outdoor drainage problems, Steam from bathrooms and the kitchen, Wet clothes drying inside the home, Clothes dryers venting indoors, Flooding and many more.
Indications of a mold problem
Mold problems usually don’t go unnoticed simply because you can see or smell mold as the issue gets worse. Mold visably appears as fuzzy, discolored, or slimy patches and may produce musty odors that can be the first indication of a problem. Follow your nose! Look for signs of mold growth, water staining, warping, or follow your nose to the source of the odor. Often you have to look behind and underneath carpets, wallpaper, cabinets, and walls. Bathroom tubs, shower stalls, shower curtains, windows, the seal on refrigerator door and other wet areas should be part of routine cleaning as a preventative measure.
How do I get rid of mold in my home?
The EPA website https://www.epa.gov/mold provides additional information about mold and remediation techniques.
Testing for mold and inspections
Mold testing is not recommended and sampling / testing is typically more expensive than simply cleaning and repairing the water problems. Most people can identify and clean mold growth themselves so hiring a licensed mold assessment contractor is not necessary. However, if you suspect that your mold issue has not been solved after doing what you can, choosing to hire a State licensed mold assessor to help identify mold problems and their cause would be recommended. Understand that if mold is identified the inspector will recommend a licensed mold remediation company to come in and clean the mold properly, and will probably be required to report the incident to your insurance company.
If a mold problem continues after thoroughly cleaning the areas you suspect are the cause, you should ask your property manager / landlord to inspect and repair the problem. If they are not taking care of the problem, contact your local building department or code enforcement official to inspect the property.
Symptoms of exposure to mold
Mold is everywhere from the air we breath to the surfaces we touch and come into contact with. Exposure to mold is going to happen and can cause varying health effects in some people. No two individuals react the same way to mold so it is impossible to determine the health problems a person will develop. Those individuals with respiratory conditions (e.g., allergies, asthma, or emphysema) or a compromised immune system (e.g., HIV/AIDS infection, organ transplant patients, or chemotherapy patients) may be more susceptible to health problems from mold exposure.
Allergy and irritation are the most common symptoms of mold exposure and common symptoms seen in people exposed to mold indoors include nasal / sinus congestion, eye irritation, wheezing, coughing, throat irritation and difficulty breathing, skin irritation and headaches.
Department of State Health Services website: https://www.dshs.texas.gov/mold/default.shtm