Whether your home is dry and dusty or damp and musty, you might find yourself sneezing, wheezing, and having a variety of respiratory symptoms. If it's too dry, the cause of your distress might be dust mites, pet dander, and other airborne allergens. On the other hand, if it's too damp, you could be breathing in mold spores.
The Trouble With Mold
Mold is a type of fungus that can develop in the presence of moisture. When conditions for nutrition, moisture, and temperature are ideal, the result is yeast. Fungus that becomes mold does not lead to contagious diseases, but can lead respiratory infections and a variety of other ailments from long-term exposure:
- Allergic alveolotis, rhinitis, and hypersensitivity pneumonitis, even in people with no known allergies.
- Asthma, which can be triggered or even brought on.
- Skin infections, such as ringworm or athlete's foot.
- Stachybotris atra (chatarum), an infection known to cause infant death.
- Other fungal infections among those suffering from immunodeficiency or recovering from surgery or burns.
Sources Of Mold And The Home
Fungi produce volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and odors. Studies in the UK, Canada, and Finland have found that moisture found in homes from water damage, leaks, condensation, and even high humidity from the local climate can lead to respiratory ailments, coughs, colds, and eye and skin irritations.
Fungal spores usually come from environmental sources and vary in composition according to geographic location. As buildings age, the spore population inside increases. In some cases, this mold can effect large groups of people, as in the case of sick building syndrome. Homes and buildings with high mold concentrations need to have moisture sources eliminated and water damaged materials removed. Moisture can even affect building materials, carpeting, furniture, clothes, books, and stored food. Once contaminated, these items can contribute to ailments.
How Can You Counteract The Effects Of Mold Growth?
While it is natural to have some level of mold concentration in a home, you must take steps to keep levels as low as possible.
- Keep air ducts clean, as mold feeds on dust.
- Filter air intake sources to prevent airborne spores from entering the building.
- Filter indoor air with high-efficiency ASHRAE filters, which block mold spores in the 1 to 4 micron size range.
- Keep HVAC systems free of dust and make sure that drain pans are free of standing water and clogs.
- Clean drain pans in refrigerators, air conditioners, humidifiers, and dehumidifiers.
- Employ ultraviolet germicidal irradiation (UVGI) on cooling coils and internal surfaces.
- Frequently inspect air handling systems and areas of the home or building where condensation or water damage is likely.
- Employ a system of daytime cooling and nighttime dehumidification to reduce fungal growth in air handling systems.
Regularly changing your furnace filter, air filter, whole house filters, and humidifier filters are an important part of keeping mold spore growth in check in your home. At Air Filter Buy, a reliable source of filters of all types, you can buy filters with MERV ratings that can trap fungi. Order today by checking our website or calling (255) Air Filter Buy.