AT HOME: Strategies to reduce mould growth

Mould can grow in many areas of a home. Though not always dangerous, mould can, in certain instances, cause serious illness.

Experts estimate that there are tens of thousands of different types of mold in the world. A type of fungi, moulds are single-celled or multicellular organisms without chlorophyll that reproduce by spores and live by absorbing nutrients from organic matter. Fungi can be classified as molds, mushrooms, rusts, mildews and yeasts. Some of the common types of moulds found indoors include cladosporium, alternaria, penicillium, and aspergillus.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that moulds can be a health hazard to some people. Some individuals are more sensitive to molds than others, and may experience anything from a mild allergic reaction to severe symptoms, such as trouble breathing or other complications with their lungs.

Mould spores travel very easily through the air and can also travel on people and pets. Coming in contact with mould in one location and then travelling to another can cause spores that hitched a ride to dislodge in the new area. People who may have never had mould problems at home before can find that mold quickly takes root if mold spores have been accidentally brought into a home.

In addition to moist areas, moulds flourish in other conditions as well.

• Food source: Moulds are not picky eaters and can feed on various materials, including wood, fabric, wallpaper, and drywall.

• Air: Although mould needs oxygen to grow, mould fares best in areas that are poorly ventilated.

• Warmth: Mould can grow in temperatures between 4 C and 43 C. Therefore, unless it’s below freezing outdoors, there’s a good chance mould spores are thriving.

Mould’s versatility to live in a variety of areas and feed on just about anything make it a formidable foe. But there are natural ways to tackle it.

Mould thrives in moist conditions, so removing the source of moisture is the primary way to control mouºld growth. Invest in a dehumidifier if your home is plagued by moisture. Dehumidifiers are especially useful in basements and crawlspaces where moisture tends to be a problem.

It’s also good to avoid using bleach to address a mould problem. Although bleach is an excellent disinfectant, it is not always successful in killing mould spores. The most it may do is whiten areas where the mould is growing. Plus, bleach has its own strong aroma and can be noxious to breathe in at high doses.

Instead of bleach, consider all-natural methods of controlling mould. Straight vinegar reportedly kills 82 per cent of mould. Using it in a spray bottle on mould can help to kill it and keep it at bay. Tea tree oil and grapefruit seed extract are also very effective at eliminating mould. Unlike other methods of mold removal, grapefruit seed extract does not have an odour.

Keeping a home ventilated is another way to fight mould. Mould prefers somewhat stagnant conditions, so allowing fresh air into the house can make it harder for mould to thrive. In bathrooms and kitchens, use exhaust fans or open windows to reduce the humidity and moisture left behind.

Mould can be an irritant to people who are sensitive to the spores, but in many cases, mould is more of an eyesore and a nuisance than something a homeowner needs to worry about. Using some smart strategies to reduce its growth can keep mould under control.

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