Cladosporium mold is extremely common both indoors and outdoors. It is most often found in decaying plant material and on soil, but can easily spread within the home, especially to dark, damp surfaces. Poor ventilation and high humidity levels contribute to the growth of this mold.
Colonies of cladosporium appear olive-green to brown or black. It can be difficult to visually distinguish between this and other types of mold. It may be found in areas of the home such as basements, bathrooms, under sinks, around faucets or in the attic. It can grow on surfaces like carpets, curtains, upholstered furniture, wallpaper, floors, wood or sheetrock.
Cladosporium is highly allergenic and spreads quickly and easily starting in the warmer months of spring. When the spores become airborne, they can easily affect people with asthma and other respiratory diseases, contributing to wheezing, coughing and shortness of breath. Hay fever-like symptoms such as stuffy or runny nose, sneezing, eye redness, sore throat, sinus congestion and more are common reactions in people sensitive or allergic to cladosporium.
Long-term exposure can contribute to infections like sinus, ear and eye infections.
In addition, people who are sensitive to odors produced by volatile organic compounds (VOCs) may react to the presence of cladosporium in the air. They may experience symptoms similar to an allergic reaction.
Because it’s highly allergenic and spreads so easily, cladosporium mold needs to be removed from your home immediately. When mold is found growing on nonporous surfaces such as tile, sinks and faucets, HEPA vacuum and damp wipe the area thoroughly with a low-toxicity household cleaner or diluted bleach solution. Make sure you clean the surrounding areas as well because the spores spread easily and may not be apparent to the naked eye.
Settled dust can contain mold spores. Use a vacuum with a HEPA filter to clean surfaces, and follow up with a damp wipe as described above. In the kitchen, dust on opened food packages may indicate that mold has reached the food, and these packages should be discarded. Unopened food packages can be damp wiped.
Inadequate insulation around windows can allow condensation to develop that contributes to mold growth. Surface mold around windows on painted wooden surfaces can be cleaned by HEPA vacuuming and damp wiping with a low-toxicity household cleaner. Dry thoroughly. If mold has penetrated the wood or sheetrock around the window, then that material will need to be replaced. Prevent future mold growth by repairing or replacing the insulation, and consider installing new replacement windows if the condensation continues.
For porous surfaces or fabric items such as curtains, carpets and furniture, you may need professional cleaning or to replace the items. A mold removal expert can advise you on your best course of action.
Mold thrives in humid and wet environments. Because cladosporium mold often starts on decaying plant material, prune plants well and discard dead plants in a sealed plastic bag to prevent spreading the mold spores. Avoid overwatering your household plants and make sure the soil can drain well.
Moisture is the number one cause of mold growth in homes. Bathrooms, kitchens and basements frequently harbor moisture that can cause mold to grow quickly. Prevent moisture from causing mold growth by taking some simple, preventative steps. Always be sure to clean up water spills right away. Repair all plumbing leaks as soon as they are noticed. Make sure rooms prone to high humidity, like your bathrooms and kitchen, are properly vented outside, and run the fans during showers and while cooking so humidity levels do not build up. During damp and rainy months and during the summer, be sure to use a dehumidifier or air conditioner to keep your indoor humidity levels at 50 percent or below.
Mold must always be removed promptly to prevent damage to your home and to your health. For a small amount of mold, you may want to try removing it yourself. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) says that an area 3 feet by 3 feet or less can often be handled by the homeowner.
Make sure you have the proper equipment, including gloves, goggles and masks to protect yourself from inhaling mold spores. You’ll also need materials to contain the mold as you clear the damaged area such as tape and plastic sheeting. To clean the mold you need a HEPA filter vacuum and a low-toxicity cleaner. You may also need other tools and supplies to complete the repair work once you’ve removed the mold.
The EPA strongly recommends hiring a professional to handle your mold problem when there has been a great deal of water damage or the mold covers more than 10 square feet. They also recommending hiring a specialist if the mold is growing in your heating/ventilation/air conditioning system. If you suspect you have mold there, do not run the HVAC because it will spread the mold spores throughout the house. Finally, if your mold damage is the result of flooding or sewage backup, you should consult a professional.
If you suffer from allergies, have respiratory or other health problems, or are at all concerned about your health due to mold exposure, do not undertake mold removal yourself. A professional mold remediation specialist can perform this work for you safely to minimize the health risks to you and other members of your household.
You can follow this link to find a mold remediation professional in your area. Local mold professionals offer free home inspections, and can identify the cause of your mold problem. If mold is found they will provide a written estimate for the mold remediation work.