Should You Be Concerned

Most of us have seen mold or moisture around the home. But did you know that mold is alive? It grows on wet or damp surfaces. It is often gray or black but can also be white, orange, or green. It can grow out in the open, on places like walls, clothes, and appliances. But you may also find it in more hidden places—under carpets or in walls and attics. Mold often smells musty. Mildew is a common kind of mold. If you live near the ocean or in a damp climate, there may be more mold in your home than in homes in other places.

Mold produces "spores," tiny specks you can't see and that float through the air. When you breathe in mold spores, they get into your lungs. This can cause health problems. People with allergies to mold may have reactions. They include watery eyes, runny or stuffed up noses, sneezing, itching, wheezing, trouble breathing, headaches, and tiredness. Mold can even trigger asthma attacks.

We are learning more about the health problems mold causes. Some molds can cause severe health problems in some people, but scientists disagree about what the problems are. Mold is almost everywhere, but it is not healthy to live where mold is growing. Because mold needs moisture to grow, try to keep your home and everything in it dry. Here are some places you might find mold:

• In bathrooms, especially around the shower or tub, and on the walls, ceiling, or floor

• In wet or damp basements and crawl spaces

• Around leaky bathroom and kitchen sinks

• In attics under leaking roofs

• On wet clothes that are not dried quickly

• On windows and walls where condensation collects

• Under wallpaper or carpet

• In your air conditioner

It's important to fix any moisture problem in your home right away. Mold can grow fast, so it's best not to wait. To stop mold from growing, quickly dry or throw away anything that has gotten wet.

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