Mold

Mold and mildew are common names for a large group of naturally occurring fungi. Mold becomes a problem when leaks or other sources of moisture cause a persistently wet environment that allows it to thrive. There are no current regulations or limits on mold, and Oklahoma does not have an agency with jurisdiction over mold.  We have included some tips and FAQs below that might be able to help.

How do I know if I have a mold problem?

A mold problem can usually be seen or smelled. Mold often appears as slightly furry, discolored, or slimy patches that will increase in size as they grow. Molds produce a musty odor that may be the first indication of a problem.  Anywhere excessive moisture accumulates indoors, mold growth will occur.

Many hardware or DIY stores sell mold test kits.  These are rarely useful because they are limited by a lack of standards and level limits.  Mold is naturally occurring so there will always be some mold spores present.

Can you come and test the indoor air in my home for mold, or other things that might be affecting my health?

The Oklahoma DEQ does not have an indoor air testing program. There are private companies that advertise as “environmental consultants”, “mold Inspectors,” or “healthy homes consultants” that might be able to sample and test indoor air for mold. In Oklahoma, there is no state license or certification for mold testers, clean-up companies, or individual contractors.

Can mold make my family sick?

Health effects vary depending on the type of mold, severity of the problem, length of exposure, and individual sensitivity. Any mold can cause an allergic response from breathing mold spores. These allergic responses can include hay fever, asthma, and irritation of the eyes, nose, throat or lungs.  People with existing conditions or more severe symptoms should seek medical care.

What about the “Toxic Black Mold” I heard about? I’ve heard that can make me and my family deathly sick.

The term “toxic mold” is not accurate. While certain molds are toxigenic, meaning they can produce toxins (specifically, mycotoxins), the molds themselves are not toxic or poisonous. Hazards presented by molds that may produce mycotoxins should be considered the same as other common molds which can grow in your house. There are very few reports that toxigenic molds found inside homes can cause unique or rare health conditions such as pulmonary hemorrhage or memory loss. These case reports are rare, and a causal link between the presence of the toxigenic mold and these conditions has not been proven. (www.cdc.gov/mold) https://www.cdc.gov/mold/stachy.htm

How do I clean up mold?

The first step when cleaning up mold is to control the moisture problem. Even if you do clean up the existing mold, it will keep reoccurring if moisture is still present. A 10% bleach solution will remove the surface mold but it is a temporary fix and must be used carefully. Porous materials such as drywall, carpeting, paper, fabric, and ceiling tiles that have extensive mold growth should be discarded. Hard surfaces such as wood and concrete can be cleaned. Small areas can be scrubbed with a cleaning rag wetted with dilute detergent. Rubber gloves and a dust mask are recommended for jobs other than routine cleaning.

For large mold problems or for people highly sensitive to mold, an experienced professional should do the work.  These include contractors that advertise as “environmental consultants”, “mold inspectors,” or “healthy homes consultants.”  In Oklahoma, there is no state license or certification for mold testers, clean-up companies, or individual contractors.

What can I do to keep mold out and reduce the moisture in my home?

As part of routine building maintenance, buildings should be inspected for evidence of water damage and visible mold. The conditions causing mold (such as water leaks, condensation, infiltration, or flooding) should be corrected to prevent mold from growing.

Specific Recommendations:

  • Keep humidity levels as low as you can—no higher than 50%–all day long. An air conditioner or dehumidifier will help you keep the level low. Bear in mind that humidity levels change over the course of a day with changes in the moisture in the air and the air temperature, so you will need to check the humidity levels more than once a day.
  • Use air conditioner or a dehumidifier during humid months.
  • Be sure the home has adequate ventilation, including exhaust fans in kitchen and bathrooms.
  • Use mold inhibitors which can be added to paints.
  • Clean bathroom with mold-killing products.
  • Do not carpet bathrooms.
  • Remove and replace flooded carpets.

Where can I find more information on mold?

Websites with additional information on mold, possible health effects, and clean up recommendations include:

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on Mold

Center for Disease Control (CDC) on Mold

DEQ Contact: Crystal K Stearns 405-702-4100