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Tips in fighting mold at home

An insurance company executive urges homeowners to take prompt action to eliminate any mold problem they see or smell. "All homeowners whose dwellings have mold problems should address the situation quickly," says John Kozero, public relations director for Fireman's Fund Insurance Co., in Novato, Calif.

Mold is a sign of excess moisture. Mold shapes up as a common fungus that emits a foul odor and looks bad. Certain types of mold can damage property and possibly trigger varying degrees of health problems.

Symptoms can include eye irritation, stuffy noses, and wheezing. It's been said that mold exposure can worsen the symptoms of those with respiratory conditions such as asthma.

A dwelling could sustain mold damage if the mold-moisture problem remains undetected and/or unchecked.

It's not easy to eliminate all mold and mold spores indoors, but minimizing moisture can help control in-home situations. Keep an eye on wet spots and condensation and take quick remedial action if you detect musty or moldy odors.

You should clean and dry mold caused by everyday condensation on hard surfaces. Small areas of mold can be cleaned with diluted household bleach. Remove any mold buildup in shower stalls, bathtubs, sinks, etc.

You may need to remove mold-contaminated ceiling tiles, carpets, and other absorbent materials. If your carpets get flooded, clean and dry them immediately or get rid of them.

Here are a few other ideas to consider:

  • Use a dehumidifier or air conditioner in spring and summer months.
  • Ventilate with exhaust fans in bathrooms, kitchens and other places where moisture can build up.
  • Put in moisture-detecting products for washing machines, water heaters and other household appliances.
  • Decrease humidity levels in your residence to less than 50 percent.

Two federal government agencies present various methods to deal with mold, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Environmental Protection Agency (www.epa.gov/iaq/pubs/moldresources.html).

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