Mold and mildew are general terms used to describe kinds of fungus. Mold needs moisture to grow. Due to Vermont’s humid climate, mold is commonly found in homes.
Mold can grow in your home on foods, damp surfaces, cloth and other porous materials. Finding areas with water or moisture intrusion—such as around leaks in roofs, windows, or pipes, or where there has been flooding—is the best way to identify where mold may be. Other clues to mold growth are “musty” or “moldy” smells. Fixing the water or moisture problem is the key to controlling mold.
Health Effects of Mold
Some people are affected by everyday exposure to mold, but most people are not. For people who are affected, mold may cause:
- Eye, nose, throat or skin irritation
- Runny nose
- Chest tightness
- Headache or fatigue
People with asthma, mold allergies, chronic lung illnesses or people who have compromised immune systems may have more severe reactions.
Although rare, it is possible to contract a respiratory fungal infection—where fungus grows on or in body tissue. Get medical attention for diagnosis and treatment of a fungal infection.
How a person might react to mold depends on several factors including the type of mold, the amount of mold present, the length and number of times a person is exposed, family history, and overall health status. Consult your health care provider with health concerns or questions.
Cleaning Up Mold
Usually, a contractor is not needed for a small mold problem of less than 10 square feet. For more than 100 square feet, you will probably want to hire a contractor. For areas between 10 and 100 square feet, use your judgment to decide.
There are no federal or Vermont certifications or licenses for mold remediation or testing. General contractors and home inspectors often can identify mold and moisture problems and suggest solutions. General contractors may also be able to fix the conditions that are causing the mold growth.
Some contractors specialize in mold clean-up and may be well suited for challenging cases of mold growth. As with any contractor, get references to assess the contractor’s experience, past work success, and the satisfaction of past clients.
Testing for mold is not necessary or recommended. Typically, testing does not provide any information that would change the action steps to fix the problem. There are no standards that test results can be compared to, and therefore test results cannot be used to say a building is “safe” or “unsafe.”
If your home has been flooded, see the Flood Clean-Up Guide.
If you are a tenant or employee, talk with your landlord or employer about mold problems. If the problem is serious and conditions persist, tenants can call their town health officer, and employees can call the Vermont Occupational Safety and Health Administration (VOSHA).