Humidity and mold
With summertime, comes humidity especially here in the south and with humidity, comes the dangers of mold.
Thursday, May 29th 2014, 9:00 pm EDT
Dr. Kelly Arnold, a family physician at Erlanger Hospital in Chattanooga, has been referring many of her patients lately to allergy specialists. There's not just pollen floating around but dangerous mold, too. She says it's typical this time of year.
"[It] reflects these atmospheric levels of humidity that basically bear a reproductive environment for fungi," says Arnold.
Aside from a flood or burst pipe, increasing moisture in the air simply due to the change of seasons creates mold that can creep into your home if you're not careful. If your body is extra-sensitive it has to fight it off.
"Which then creates cells to release chemicals in your body, such as histamines, which then cause symptoms such as sneezing, itching, and coughing," explains Arnold.
She says 25% of her adult asthma patients react to mold, and according to the Mayo Clinic around 37 million Americans suffer from inflamed sinuses, many times due to allergens like mold.
David Bashor of Affinity Group is a Certified Indoor Environmentalist and has been a mold expert for 10 years. He says if your air conditioning unit is too big this could lead to a problem called short-cycling..
"So it's pulling the moisture out of the air, but it's not cycling long enough to get the moisture out of the duct work," says Bashor.
The mold is only visible once millions of spores have grown in a given area. Bashor gives a couple of tips.
"If you have a variable speed fan running it a little slower to let it run a little bit longer, or properly sizing the unit," explains Bashor.
As long as everything is alright with the air conditioning keep it running as much as possible during the warm, humid months as opposed to keeping windows and doors open--even at night.
"Obviously whatever's outside is coming inside," states Bashor.
Keep the air circulating inside your home.
"A ceiling fan. Air flow creates evaporation," says Bashor. "A dehumidifier--very intelligent decision."
Dr. Arnold also says take extra care cleaning areas where mold can accumulate quickly.
"Shower curtains, window sills," says Arnold. She also suggests that if you have a mold allergy sufferer at home you should maintain a smoke-free environment. Tobacco products can make mold allergies worse.
While the government has no standards regarding safe indoor mold levels, Bashor says it's a matter of experience as far knowing when a major cleanup is finished. He uses various instruments to measure humidity, temperature, and density to make sure little to no mold is left over.