How to Identify Bad House Mold

Mold is a common household fungus, occurring in many varieties, which grows in wet, humid environments. If you have broken pipes, wall cracks or a leaky roof, or if you simply live in an overwhelmingly humid climate, your home may be susceptible to dangerous mold. If left untreated, mold can contribute to serious health problems, including respiratory illness, allergies and weakened immune system. If you suspect that you may have mold or the potential for mold, try to identify the tell-tale symptoms.

Step 1

Install a relative humidity sensor. The Toxic Black Mold Information Center recommends that you carry this device from room to room or mount it to a wall to monitor the percentage of relative humidity present in its location. If the humidity in any part of your house exceeds 55 percent, you are at a high risk for dangerous mold. Mold breeds in humid environments, so if your home has an elevated potential for mold contamination, proceed to the next step to examine your home more carefully.

Step 2

Examine walls, ceilings, tiles and carpets, along with any wooden objects, upholstery and fabrics; these types of objects are the most susceptible to mold contamination. Look for any moist discolorations that appear yellow, green, black or brown, sometimes accompanied by a light powdery residue. By contrast, mildew (a similar fungus) usually appears white or gray, but presents many of the same dangers.

Step 3

Sniff around for any unpleasant, musty odors, particularly in humid areas where mold may live. Microbial volatile organic compounds are responsible for the typical mold odor, which can cause headaches, nausea and other symptoms. A musty smell, which resembles the scent of sour or rotting moist wood (or the described accompanying symptoms), may indicate active mold.

Step 4

Shine a black light over any locations where you suspect mold. Insert a black bulb into any lamp or other compatible, portable light fixture. A yellow glow shining beneath the black light may indicate the presence of mold.

Step 5

Purchase a commercial mold test kit, available at hardware stores everywhere. These kits include sampling tools and envelopes, allowing you to collect samples of your air and suspected mold spores and send them directly to a professional laboratory for testing.

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