Frequently Asked Questions about Mold.


General , Health and Mold in my home

Question: What is mold and why is it growing indoors?

Mold (and mildew) are common terms for fungi that can grow in damp locations in buildings, although molds are present everywhere, indoors and outdoors. Molds are important microorganisms because they help break down dead plant and animal material and recycle nutrients in the environment. There are many kinds of molds, and mold growth can have many forms and colors. To grow and reproduce, mold only needs food — any organic matter, such as leaves, wood, paper, or even dust — and moisture. Organic matter is almost always available, so whether mold grows depends mostly on whether there is moisture. By fixing moisture problems, you can keep mold from growing in your home.

Question: What are the health effects of mold?

The presence of visible mold, visible moisture, water-damaged materials, or mold odor in a building is clearly linked to increased risk of various respiratory health effects. These health effects include asthma development, asthma exacerbation, allergies, respiratory infections, and a variety of upper and lower respiratory symptoms. The more extensive or severe the dampness and mold, the greater the risk of health effects. The health effects also depend on the susceptibility of the occupants. Speak to your doctor if you have concerns about the health effects of mold.

Question: Can a doctor tell me if the mold in my building is making me sick?

A doctor can test for and diagnose a small number of mold allergies. However, a person may have mold allergies for which there is no test. Also, molds can have health effects other than allergic reactions and can affect people who are not allergic. Still, it is a good idea to discuss your concerns with your healthcare provider.

Question: Do I need to know if the mold in my building is "toxic mold" or "black mold"?

No. Any type of mold that you see or smell in your building is a risk to your health and should be fixed. The more mold or moisture that you see or smell, the greater the risk to your health. There is currently no evidence that the particular kind of mold in your building matters.

Question: How do I know if I have a mold or moisture problem?

Mold or moisture problems may be visible or hidden. Visible areas could include surfaces in the building itself and items in the building. Examples of hidden problem areas include beneath wallpaper, behind furniture, behind baseboards, or inside walls, floors, or ceilings. Signs of a mold or moisture problem in your home are:

  • Water-stained, discolored, or moldy surfaces
  • Water damage, such as warped floors, peeling or bubbled paint, or rotting wood
  • Damp surfaces, including condensation on windows or walls
  • An earthy, musty, or moldy smell

You might also have a mold problem if people who are sensitive or allergic to mold have symptoms when they are in your home.