The best course of action to combat mold is prevention. Yet the reality is that mold can grow inside a home even when every effort is made to keep it under control. And where there is mold growth, there are mold spores. Let’s take a look at how to get rid of mold spores in the air.
Getting rid of mold spores in the air involves combining mold cleanup with mold prevention. Dehumidifiers and air conditioner units keep the humidity levels low, removing moisture in the air that mold thrives on. Air purifiers work to filter the air, removing mold spores and other allergens.
Although removing mold spores from the air is our focus, we also need to realize that if mold spores are floating around our homes, they may have become airlifted from mold within the home.
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What Are Mold Spores?
Mold spores are produced by mold that is actively growing and are microscopic seeds that can transfer mold by becoming airborne. Mold spores do not die and can remain dormant for centuries until the right environmental conditions are met for mold to grow and thrive.
Mold spores will develop when they land on areas with an excessive amount of moisture, such as areas where water leaks exist, on walls, potted plants, ceilings, or areas where flooding has occurred.
How Do Mold Spores Spread?
Mold spores spread across large areas and can easily become airborne through regular human and pet activity within the home. Mold spores are also transferred with the use of fans, in the air ducts of heating and cooling systems, through physical contact with clothing, and by touching surfaces where mold spores are present.
Damp, humid places within a home such as bathrooms, kitchens, and anywhere else where excessive moisture exists provide mold prime breeding grounds to grow and reproduce more mold spores.
How Long Can Mold Spores Stay in The Air?
Mold can stay in the air after becoming airborne for a few minutes in a room with no activity. However, in a home where there is constant human activity and a working HVAC system, mold spores can circulate within the air of a home on a continual basis.
Even the process of cleaning a home actively stirs up accumulated dust and mold spores on surfaces, causing them to become airborne.
How Long Can Mold Spores Live?
Mold spores, depending on the species, can live for hundreds of years. When moisture is removed from a moldy environment, the mold spores become dormant and can reactivate at a later time with the right moisture levels.
Since mold thrives in humid homes with an excess of moisture, it’s recommended to control the humidity with dehumidifiers or an air conditioning system. Reducing humidity effectively helps control the amounts of mold in a home.
Humidity meters can be used to check the humidity levels within a home and may be purchased at local home improvement centers.
How Long Can Mold Spores Live without Moisture?
Certain species of mold spores can live without moisture for hundreds of years or more. When moisture has been removed from a mold’s environment, the mold stops growing, lies in dormancy, and awakens again when the environment presents just the right moisture conditions.
What Happens If You Inhale Mold Spores?
Inhaling mold spores can trigger a reaction in one’s immune system, causing an allergic reaction in those with mold allergies. Itchy eyes and coughing, as well as other mold allergy symptoms, might occur. When exposed to mold, some people have asthmatic symptoms such as wheezing.
Limiting one’s exposure to mold is the best way to combat a mold allergy. Mold not only affects humans but also our beloved pets.
Can Mold Spores Grow In Your Lungs?
According to the Cleveland Clinic, mold spores can grow in the lungs of those who have suffered certain chronic diseases such as tuberculosis and emphysema. These ailments cause unique lung cavities, allowing the mold fungus to form a lump by blending with blood clots and white blood cells.
These lumps of fungus are referred to as aspergilloma or mycetoma and may be present in other organs of the body.
Up to 10% of those who have cystic fibrosis or asthma are thought to have an allergic response to Aspergillus. According to estimates, ABPA affects 2% of all asthmatics and 2-15% of cystic fibrosis patients.
How Can I Test the Air in My House for Mold?
Mold test kits may be purchased at local home improvement centers as well as being available for order online. A collection of air and surface samples in the home can be obtained and then mailed to a lab for testing. Lab results are generally emailed within a few days to a few weeks.
Professional mold testing services in one’s area may also be hired to perform in-depth mold-testing services for a complete and comprehensive review of a home.
Do Air Purifiers Help with Mold Spores?
Air purifiers can help eliminate mold spores from the air of a home, capturing the spores and preventing them from being transferred to other areas. Although air purifiers do not prevent existing mold and mildew from growing, they do assist in reducing the number of mold spores in a home by removing them from the air.
Mold spores become airborne easily, transporting their seed to other parts of the home where they are eager to land on moisture-ridden surfaces where they will thrive and grow.
The type of air purifier needed will depend on the square footage of a home as well as the capacity of the air purifier. Although it is recommended to have an air purifier in every room, it’s not a rule set in stone.
Most air purifiers can handle up to 500 square feet, so more than one air purifier is generally necessary.
Use a Dehumidifier for Mold Spores
Dehumidifiers will not kill mold spores, but they are great at eliminating excess moisture in the air of a home. By reducing the humidity levels in a home, mold spores will be forced into dormancy.
Dehumidifiers work by running a fan that draws warm air into its refrigerated coils, trapping the condensation in a collection container within the dehumidifier.
Humidity levels can be controlled by using the settings on the dehumidifier. Recommended humidity levels for a home are between 30 to 50%, providing healthier air in the home.
The use of exhaust fans in the bathrooms and kitchen will also help to keep the humidity levels down in a home.
Are HVAC Air Purifiers Worth It?
HVAC air purifiers are worth it as they improve the air quality of the home by removing airborne pollutants from the air as it passes through the system. Whole-house air purifiers are placed inside the ductwork of the HVAC system and are only an option for HVAC systems that use forced air.
In order to keep HVAC air purifiers running effectively, they need regular filter cleaning and replacements to keep the indoor air quality at optimum levels.
If you wish to eliminate mold allergy symptoms, it’s worth considering an HVAC air purifying system for your home.
Do Whole-House Air Purifiers Work?
Whole-house air purifiers work by collecting pollutants such as mold spores from the air as it passes through the HVAC’s ductwork system. With regular air filter maintenance, a whole-house air purifier can help alleviate allergy symptoms.
Maintain Clean Gutters to Combat Mold Spores
Gutters can be a prime breeding ground for mold, especially in older gutter systems with more nooks and grannies for moisture to get trapped and mold to grow. Regular maintenance of your gutters is strongly recommended to keep them free of debris buildup.
Use a bleach and water solution in your gutters if you suspect mold growth and mildew. Bleach will kill the mold and mold spores in the gutters that will eventually spread through the air and likely into your home.
Remove Existing Mold to Reduce Mold Spores
One of the best ways of reducing mold spores in a home is by locating and killing any mold and mildew that currently exists. Mold growth produces mold spores that become airborne and transfer to other parts of the home and into our lungs.
Hydrogen peroxide (3%) in a spray bottle will kill mold. Another effective means of killing mold is to use a bleach-water solution by combining one cup of bleach with one gallon of water.
Saturate the affected moldy area and let sit for about 15 minutes before wiping it with a clean cloth.
Inspect Basement and Crawl Space for Excess Moisture
Mold and mildew issues can arise in the crawl area as a result of excessive moisture. Water and moisture damage can also affect insulation and the structural supports under the house if the source is a plumbing leak.
Any signs of damaged insulation, standing water, visible mold infestation, or water leaks should be repaired immediately.
Regular inspection of a crawl space is not necessarily pleasant, but it’s a necessary responsibility of a homeowner.
- Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
- Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)
- Mayo Clinic
- The Cleveland Clinic
- Live Science
Trina Greenfield, Author
SmackDown Media LLC
About the Author:
Trina Greenfield, the owner of SmackDown Media LLC, is passionate about providing information to those interested in the air quality in and around their homes. Trina writes content about things she’s passionate about, such as safe, in-home air, educational platforms for children and adults, as well as all things family-related.