Originally created 06/20/03

Damp weather leads to mold



The grass is growing without limits. Puddles are everywhere, and basements are flooded.

People might not be thrilled with above-average rainfall, but mold doesn't seem to mind.

Mold thrives in conditions of high humidity where there's lots of groundwater, said Robert Simmons, mycologist at Georgia State University in Atlanta.

It's attracted to leaky foundations, leaks in walls, damp insulation and other wet places, he said.

Not only is mold unsightly but it also can affect your health.

People with severely impaired immune systems are the most likely to have problems with any kind of mold, Dr. Simmons said.

Most people have mild allergic reactions to it such as runny or stuffy noses, coughing or sneezing, said allergist Mary Anderson.

Dr. Anderson said dehumidifiers and air purifiers are effective mold preventers.

Most mild mold infestations can be removed using bleach diluted in water, Dr. Simmons said. Removing the source of moisture that caused the problem in the first place is the most important thing, he said. He also cautioned that there is no real way to be rid of all mold.

"There are several hundred to a couple of thousand mold spores in the air at any one time," he said.

Whether or not there is mold growing indoors, there are going to be spores in the air, Dr. Simmons said.

"Molds are a problem for allergy sufferers year round and are especially bad in the fall," Dr. Anderson said.

The main problem in the fall is rotting leaves, she said.

While bothersome, mold is generally far from deadly.

"If it wasn't for mold, we'd be up to our ears in dead leaves and garbage," Dr. Simmons said.

Reach MaryAnne Pysson at (706) 823-3332.