Why Mold is a Problem During Winter
Several factors lead to increased concerns about mold during the winter months. For one thing, moisture conditions indoors can lead to the growth of molds and mildews. While it’s true that forced heating systems make indoor air drier overall during the winter months, certain areas of the home may experience intensified levels of humidity because of a lack of ventilation. Bathrooms and kitchens are particularly susceptible to this problem. Steamy showers in small bathrooms spell trouble, as does the accumulation of steam from washing dishes and cooking in the kitchen. Because of cold weather, windows aren’t usually open, and condensation collects on indoor surfaces such as cold walls or windows and their frames, often creating ideal conditions for mold growth.
In addition, outdoor exposure is also common during early winter months when piles of leaves collect and absorb moisture. Cold, damp air promotes mold growth in many additional outdoor locations during this time of year as well. Mold thrives in dead vegetation, and is not killed by winter frosts. In fact, many molds can become dormant during the winter only to grow on plants killed by the cold when springtime arrives – making mold a year-round allergy trigger.
Any disturbance to an outdoor mold source, such as can occur when raking leaves or tending to a compost pile, disperses mold spores through the air, exposing individuals to varying levels of mold inhalation.
How to Identify Mold Problems
Obviously, if you notice visible mold or mildew growing in a certain area of your home, it is clear that you have a mold problem. You will need to identify the source of the moisture and remedy the problem at the source. For instance, if you discover mold growing under your bathroom sink, look to see if there are leaky pipes that may be dripping water and repair them.
However, though you may not notice mold growth in certain area, this does not mean that mold isn’t present or that it won’t grow if you don’t take action. Indications such as condensation forming on window panes or peeling paint on window sills suggest moisture buildup that makes the area susceptible to mold growth. Water stains likewise indicate a moisture problem and a potential hotspot for mold growth. Any area where water sits or steam collects, such as in shower stalls or bathtub rims, (particularly the area around toiletry bottles and the like) is also a place to keep an eye on.
Cleaning Mold and Mildew
The most important thing to remember when cleaning up a mold or mildew problem is to protect yourself from exposure. Be sure to wear a mask such as the AllergyZone N95 Filter Mask when cleaning mold. If you are sensitive to mold, you should also protect yourself from exposure by wearing goggles and gloves. Make sure to discard or thoroughly clean any equipment when you are finished with the job.
Now for how to actually clean the mold: Many people believe that the best thing for cleaning mold and mildew is bleach or a bleach solution. However, there are two basic problems with using bleach to solve a mold problem, especially for allergy sufferers. One problem is that fumes and residue from bleach are toxic and can cause additional respiratory problems for sensitive individuals. Another problem is that bleach does not necessarily kill the mold, but can trick you into thinking that the mold is dead because the mold seems to disappear; however, it may actually just be whitened, but still there, propagating itself further. While bleach may be used on hard, non-porous surfaces (although we do not recommend it), using bleach on porous surfaces such as wood is simply not effective because mold’s roots can penetrate deep into the surface.
SOURCE: Excerpted from “All About Allergies in the Winter”, AchooAllergy.com
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