Mold: it’s everywhere

Of the approximately 1,000 common household molds studied by scientists, less than 200 are identified as being harmful pathogens to humans.

Knowing the difference between harmful mold and dangerous mold can keep you from getting sick.

“Molds are a type of fungus,” said Capt. Matthew Perry, an environmental science and engineer officer and chief of environmental health for the U.S. Army Medical Department Activity – Bavaria. “They grow by creating microscopic spores that float through the air both indoors and outdoors.”
It is impossible to completely remove all molds from the indoors, so moisture control is the key to mold control, Captain Perry said. A humidity level of 60 percent or less is recommended. Using fans while cooking and showering can help so long as you vent them to the outside. Another way to control moisture is to open windows while cooking and showering.

To minimize the risk of mold growing in work and home areas, identify and eliminate the source of moisture or water. Residents should ventilate their quarters for at least 10 minutes a day and after each shower by opening windows to create a cross draft. This helps to reduce the potential for mold and mildew growth.

“Be aware though, molds damage what they grow on, so the longer they have to grow, the more damage they are likely to cause,” said Captain Perry.

Mold: The basics
• Not all molds are harmful.
• Visual inspection alone cannot identify harmful mold. Regardless of the type of mold it is, the remediation steps are the same.
• Mold must have water (moisture) to survive. Eliminate the water source and you will eliminate the mold problem.
• Clean mold with soap and water or a bleach solution; allow drying.
• Mold remediation is not complete until the water (moisture) source is identified and eliminated.
• Different people will react differently to exposure to mold. Address health issues on an individual basis between you and your health care provider. If you suspect mold is affecting you or your family’s health in the home or workplace, discuss this with a health care provider so an accurate diagnosis can be made.
For additional information visit:
• Or, call the environmental science officer at 476-3216.
(Courtesy of Europe Regional Medical Command)

Getting rid of mold
For small jobs, usually about 10 square feet, it is not necessary to call a professional. Captain Perry gives this advice:

1.Scrub moldy surfaces with detergents and water or a bleach solution of one cup of bleach to one gallon of water (caution: never mix bleach with other cleaning solutions as the chemicals could react and be extremely dangerous). 

2. Allow the material time to dry completely. 

3. Discard porous or absorbent material if cleaning agents do not go deep enough to kill all of the mold spores. 

4. Mold will grow back if the water source was not removed.

5. Do not paint or caulk moldy surfaces.  Remove the mold first, then allow the material to completely dry before painting or caulking. 

6. You may need to discard moldy stuffed furniture if the mold cannot be completely removed. For larger areas or for cleaning items with sentimental or high value, you may wish to consult a professional or specialist. Be sure to notify the housing office of any problems that need professional resolution.
The Environmental Protection Agency’s publications, A Brief Guide to Mold, Moisture, and Your Home and Mold Remediation in Schools and Commercial Buildings, outline steps to take to remedy large and small projects. Both of these are available free from the EPA’s Web site at