Mold are fungi that can be found in virtually every environment, both indoors and outdoors. There are thousands of different kinds of molds.
Molds grow best in warm, damp, and humid conditions, and spread and reproduce by making spores. In nature, mold can be beneficial as it helps to break down dead materials into rich organic matter. But indoors, mold can destroy building materials and home furnishings. Some mold has also been known to cause health problems.
There are no federal, state or local standards establishing hazardous levels of mold nor are there any federal, state or local statutes governing the clean-up of mold. The Department of Health provides education and recommendations, but can take no enforcement actions or engage in any tenant/landlord disputes regarding mold issues. If there is water damage contributing to mold growth, enforcement actions can occur.
If you live in Fort Wayne and are having a mold problem due to structural (i.e. roof leak) or plumbing (i.e. leaking pipes) problem that has not been addressed by your landlord, please contact the Fort Wayne Neighborhood Code Compliance Agency by dialing 3-1-1.
Below is more information on preventing, testing and treating for mold problems and other helpful resources.
For other questions or concerns, you may contact our Environmental Services Division – Vector Control & Healthy Homes at (260) 449-7459.
Mold needs three things to grow – a surface to land on, substance to eat, and water. With ideal conditions, mold can rapidly spread and infest a large area.
Of all the ingredients needed, moisture is the most important. Eliminating moisture is the most effective means of hindering mold growth.
The following are recommendations to prevent and eliminate indoor mold problems:
- Reduce the relative humidity in your living space, basement and or crawl space. Purchase a hygrometer. It is an instrument that reads the percentage of humidity. To discourage mold growth, humidity levels should range between 30 to 50 percent. Use a humidifier and empty the water collection reservoir frequently.
- Eliminate leaks. Look for leaks in the attic, around windows, gutters, soffits, and foundations. Make sure your basement is leak-proof. Install foundation drains and make sure your sump pump is working properly.
- Remove the mold. If you have moderate mold growth on a hard, non-porous surface, scrub away the mold with soap and water or a bleach solution of no more than 1 cup of bleach in 1 gallon of water. If using a bleach solution, do not mix with other chemicals and make sure there is adequate ventilation.
- Have your heating ducts cleaned by a reputable company. The ventilation system provides a favorable habitat for mold and mold growth. Once in the ventilation system, the mold spores will be passed throughout the home any time forced–air heat or air conditioning is used.
- Install a HEPA filter in your heating system. If you do not have a forced-air heating system, portable HEPA filters are widely available at department stores, home improvement stores and over the Internet.
- See a physician if you or your children are experiencing health problems that could be associated with exposure to mold.
- For a serious mold problem, hire a professional to repair leaks and remove contaminated building components. If the mold infestation is severe, it may be necessary for you to move out of the home until it has been made safe again.
Testing for Mold
Generally, it is not necessary to identify the species of mold growing in a residence, and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention does not recommend routine sampling for molds. Reliable sampling is expensive and the standards for what is and is not an acceptable or tolerable level of mold have not been established.
If you are susceptible to mold and mold is seen or smelled, there is a potential health risk; therefore, no matter what type of mold is present, you should arrange for its removal.
Health Effects of Mold
Mold can affect human health by causing allergies, infections, and toxicity. The type and severity of symptoms will depend on a person’s susceptibility and the degree of exposure. Exposure is mainly through the inhalation of mold spores or from contact with the skin or from swallowing.
For those sensitive to mold, the symptoms can include wheezing, nasal and sinus congestion, burning eyes, skin irritation or a dry cough. Other more severe symptoms may include headaches, memory loss, and flu-like symptoms.
If you believe you are ill because of exposure to mold in the building where you live or work, you should consult a health care provider to determine the appropriate actions to take to protect your health.
Below are links to publications related to mold.
- Allen County Code Title 10, Article 12, Public Health Hazards
- Mold in Your Home (DOH)
- Mold Information (CDC)
- Mold Remediation in Schools and Commercial Buildings (EPA)
- Facts about Mold (ISDH)
- Mold Resources (OnlineTips.org)
- Mold After a Disaster (CDC)
- Guide to Mold Cleanup After Disasters (CDC/EPA/FEMA/HUD)
- Flood Cleanup: Avoiding Indoor Air Quality Problems (EPA)
- After the Storm – What Steps Do I Need to Take to Clean-Up Safely? (UConn)