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How to Fight Mold in Your Military Living Space

You may have seen news reports of mold causing problems in base housing or military barracks and wondered what the problem was, especially if you lived in a humid or tropical climate.

There are many types of mold, some can be harmful, some not. Most healthy people don’t have to worry about a small amount of most types of mold growing on an indoor surface.

See: Mold problems and poor housing conditions for troops are rampant. What can Congress do?

What is mold and why is it harmful?

Mold is a type of fungus found almost everywhere on the planet. In buildings, it is usually found on wet or damp porous materials, especially on wood, carpet, cotton, drywall, or other organic materials. Mold grows best in warm, humid environments with poor ventilation.

See: Over 1,000 Fort Bragg Soldiers displaced after surprise decision to evacuate moldy old barracks

Black mold is what most people think of when the words “dangerous or “toxic” mold are mentioned; this is because some types of mold spores, especially Stachybotrys chartarum, which is often dark in color, can contain toxic chemicals that can be dangerous if eaten. Black mold is usually caused by extensive, unchecked water damage for weeks, so it is quite rare in residential areas.

Health Effects of Mold

The jury is still out on how mold exposure can affect people.

According to WebMD, although eating black mold can make you sick, there is no link to inhaling black mold and any illness or disease unless you are allergic to it. Infections caused by molds are extremely rare. Most of the symptoms that people believe are related to mold exposure are actually caused by other problems, including allergies and bacterial or viral infections, which are usually linked to high indoor humidity, of which mold is one. sign.

However, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), a 2004 study found enough evidence to link indoor exposure to mold to upper respiratory tract symptoms, such as coughing and wheezing in adults. otherwise healthy people. It also increased asthma symptoms in people with asthma; and had other health effects in people with weakened immune systems.

The bottom line is this: mold can be harmful if you’re allergic to it, and it’s certainly unsightly. If you see it in your living space, it should be removed as soon as possible.

What to do if you find mold in your living space

According to the Air Force, if you find mold in your home, you should clean it up and try to keep it from coming back. For hard surfaces, you can use soapy water or a household cleaner with a stiff brush to remove any visible mildew. Bleach and special store-bought mold cleaners can be used sparingly and with adequate ventilation and personal protective equipment. It is virtually impossible to remove all mold and mold spores, so even after cleaning the affected area, you should try to remedy any problems such as excess humidity, poor ventilation or other sources of contamination. moisture to prevent mold from returning.

Related: ‘I don’t think I can do this for 20 years’: Military families still struggle with mold in privatized housing

If you live in government housing or private housing on base, you should contact your housing office or command for assistance. Some bases have special teams to deal with mold in government housing. However, on some basis and depending on the type and cause of the mold, it may be best to try to fix it yourself. To see what the situation is under your command, the best and quickest solution is to check your local military community social media sites for help. Others under you may have faced similar situations before and can offer quick and easy solutions.

If you live in private accommodation off base, your best option may be to try and fix it yourself. Professional mold remediation companies can charge thousands of dollars to rid a house or apartment of mold. However, without solving the problem, the mold will soon return. Those with unique situations may be best served by seeking a professional solution.

Getting a home mold test kit from a home improvement store or paying hundreds of dollars for a professional mold test is generally not recommended. There are thousands of species of mold and no national or international health standard is accepted. If you or a family member has medical symptoms that may be related to mold, you’re probably better off simply removing the mold, improving ventilation, and controlling sources of moisture.

The best way to fight mold in any living space is to try to get it out first, then figure out how to keep it from coming back.

How to Prevent Mold Growth in Your Military Housing

The Environmental Protection Agency recommends keeping your indoor relative humidity between 30% and 60% to reduce mold growth. Rooms with high humidity, such as bathrooms, kitchens, and laundry rooms, may need a dehumidifier or outdoor ventilation. If water collects on your windows, wipe it off, especially around the edges; also turning on ceiling fans can help improve ventilation of affected areas.

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This article has been updated to reflect information about mold allergies and what to do about mold in military housing.

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