Is it necessary to test for mold?
The US EPA advises, in most cases, that if visible mold is present, there’s no need to sample it. No federal or Ohio standard has been established for mold so there’s no way to determine if mold levels are acceptable. Surface sampling may be helpful to determine if the area has been adequately cleaned. Sampling for mold should be conducted by professionals with specific experience in mold sampling. Some experts recommend a mold inspection to determine the cause of the growth and the size of the area affected when the mold is hidden or inaccessible.
If I do need a mold inspection or remediation, what type of professional should I hire?
- The EPA does not have a certification program for mold inspectors and remediation firms. However, there are several professional associations that train and certify members and provide a searchable directory of their members. These include:
- Indoor Air Quality Association (IAQA) has local chapters in Cincinnati and Cleveland.
- National Association of Mold Remediators and Inspectors (NAMRI). NAMRI posts the Association’s standards of practice for mold inspection that may be helpful. See Find a Mold Professional.
- National Organization of Remediators and Mold Inspectors (NORMI). See the NORMI Professional Directory. NORMI provides over 14 certifications to meet licensing laws established in four states, New York and Washington, D.C.
- National Association of Mold Professionals (NAMP). NAMP says it is the oldest and largest Mold association in the US. They provide a training and certification program to provide authoritative credentials for Mold Professionals. See their Directory of Mold Inspectors and Remediators.
- If the issue is water in the basement or other room in the home and no mold is yet present, firms specializing in water damage and clean up are a good place to start.
How can mold be prevented?
There is no way to completely rid your home of mold and spores. The key to mold control is moisture control. Some tips from the EPA include:
- Quickly clean up water leaks and spills indoors within 24-48 hours to prevent mold growth.
- Regularly clean/repair gutters to prevent leaks.
- Put a plastic cover over dirt in crawl spaces to prevent moisture from coming in from the ground. Ventilate crawl spaces.
- Check to see if the ground slopes towards the basement or foundation of your home. If it does, regrade to move water away from your home (see “How Do I Regrade Around My House Foundation?” Angie’s List)
- Maintain your air conditioning system to ensure it is removing moisture from your home.
- Keep humidity indoors low (between 30 and 50%). Measure humidity with an inexpensive moisture or humidity meter (available for as low as $20 at large hardware stores)
- Dry quickly any condensation or moisture collecting on window, walls or pipes and reduce moisture/water sources.
- Vent appliances to the outside that produce moisture such as clothes dryers and stoves.
- Vent bathrooms or open the window when showering. Older homes may have bathroom fans venting into the attic. Current building codes call for venting bathrooms outside of the home to prevent mold from forming in attics.
- Use air conditioners and de-humidifiers to bring humidity levels down.
- Use exhaust fans or open windows when cooking and using the dishwasher.
- Improve ventilation in your home by opening doors and windows and using fans.
- Avoid using carpet on concrete floors; they can absorb moisture from the ground. Use area rugs that can be washed instead.
- Insulate cold surfaces, such as pipes, and increase the air temperature to prevent condensation.
- Clean frequently areas such as showers and bathtubs where mold tends to grow.
- Have air ducts cleaned if visible mold is present.
Mold Resources, Indoor Air Quality Association
Indoor Air Quality and Mold Prevention of the Building Envelope, Roger Morse and Dan Acker, Whole Building Design Guide, National Institute of Building Sciences
Facts about Mold and Dampness, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.