Alternaria Mold in the Home


Like its cousins cladosporium and penicillium, alternaria is one of the most common types of outdoor mold. There are more than 40 known species of this fungi, which is often responsible for leaf spots and degenerative diseases on trees and bushes. As a major plant pathogen, it is most commomly found in the environment in spring and summer.

No matter the season or location, alternaria mold lingers in the air on dry, windy days. When picked up by a breeze, it can become airborne and enter your home, looking for a warm and humid place to multiply. Unfortunately, if alternaria mold gets into your house, it may settle on your produce, house plants, furniture, and clothing. It can also live and grow under your carpets and inside walls. Mold companies often find spores growing in the shower, basement, and attic. Humid homes are especially susceptible to this type of fungi growth, which may reach tens of thousands of spores per cubic foot.

Mold Health Risks

If mold enters and grows inside your home, it can cause a variety of health problems for you and your family. The mildest of symptoms are similar to the common cold, which includes a runny nose, cough, and sore throat. Some people also get itchy and irritated eyes or experience wheezing, difficulty breathing, and shortness of breath. Hives and rashes on the skin are also possible.

People with asthma are particularly susceptible to mold illness. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), exposure to alternaria is a well-known asthma risk factor. Also, families with infants should be especially cautious about mold exposure. Babies who breathe in toxic spores can experience all of the respiratory-related symptoms above. They are also at an increased risk of SIDS and crib death. 

Older people and patients with emphysema or COPD can have severe symptoms and complications. If you or a loved one have signs of mold exposure, make an appointment with your primary care physician. Upon examination, your doctor should be able to determine if you have a cold, contagious respiratory illness, or are suffering from an environmental issue such as mold exposure. Depending on the results, they may want to refer you to an allergist or an ear, nose, and throat specialist.

alternaria moldAlternaria Mold on Back of Sheetrock

How to Prevent Alternaria Mold in the Home 

There are many ways to prevent the development of alternaria mold in your home. While you should practice prevention all year long, it is especially important to take action during summer. Keep all entryways closed as often as you can, especially when it is hot, windy, and dry. It is also vital to reseal drafty doors or windows and fix breaches in your roof. Repairing or installing new rain gutters can also help direct mold-causing moisture away from your foundation.

Small openings are an ideal place for spores to develop. Check for leaks in your bathroom and kitchen regularly. Sinks, toilets, dishwashers, and washing machines may slowly seep water, allowing mold to form in hidden areas. We also recommend installing leak detectors. These small devices are available online or at home improvement stores, and will sound when they detect moisture. You should place them next to your water heater and under your sinks.

You can reduce the humidity level inside the house by keeping your HVAC system running. You can also use a dehumidifier in unusually moist areas, such as the basement. Keep dampness levels as low as you can; humidity readings should go no higher than 50 percent. The EPA also recommends getting your home’s air ducts cleaned periodically. You should also insulate your house if it needs it. Your air conditioner and humidity levels will be easier to control, and you will save money on power bills. If you have not visited your attic recently, take a look. Poor ventilation combined with excess moisture can lead to mold growth. If your attic has a musty odor, you may have something growing inside, even if you cannot see it. 

Finally, clean your bathrooms and basement regularly with mold killing products. Never carpet your bathroom. If you have a sauna in your home, be especially careful to maintain the heating system properly and remove excess moisture from the walls, seats, and floor.

How to Rid Your Home of Mold

Mold is difficult to remove on your own, particularly if you or a member of your household has health problems. If you think you have mold growing in your home, call a removal company right away. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommends hiring a professional if mold covers an area larger than 3 feet by 3 feet, if you have mold in your HVAC system, if the mold was caused by contaminated water or sewage, or if you have health concerns.

Some homeowners try to remove large mold growths with bleach. Unfortunately, bleach is only effective on non-porous surfaces. It is not effective on materials like drywall, wood, or carpet. If you do decide to use bleach or a chemical cleaner, do so with caution. A solution of one cup per bleach per one gallon of water can be used on non-porous areas. Never combine bleach with ammonia or other solvents, as it can produce dangerous toxic fumes. Be sure to use the proper equipment like safety goggles, a mask, rubber gloves, and boots. Here is more on personal safety equipment.

If you rent your home, call your property owner or landlord at the first sign of mold. If possible, take pictures of the damage. If you have problems reaching someone to help, contact your community’s health board or local department of health.

While mold grows best in warmer seasons, is possible for it to grow in your home year-round. If you believe you have mold inside your home, do not wait until it spreads, or your family becomes ill. You can schedule a free in-home consultation with an experienced mold removal company in your area to look for signs and if necessary, perform an efficient and convenient removal. Whether you have indicators of mold or not, a professional evaluation can provide you with some expert advice at no cost. To get started, follow this link to get a list of qualified mold removal professionals in your area. Depending upon the situation, your homeowners insurance policy might cover the removal costs.



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