Battle against mold
By JENNIFER HICKS
Norwich Bulletin

It lurks in shower stalls, basements, other damp areas, and can cause serious health problems. It's mold, an organic fungus that's been around for billions of years. It's also the cause of many health problems in humans, as well as structural damage in homes and buildings.

"If you see mold, it's something that needs to be removed," said John Bolduc, executive vice president of the Eastern Connecticut Association of Realtors in Norwich.

Bolduc said mold is definitely becoming an issue in the real estate industry because of its health effects. And, while Connecticut has established regulations in real estate sales for radon gas and septic systems, it has none for mold in homes.

There are toxic molds and run of the mill, everyday kinds of mold. Mold should be taken care of in whatever form, Bolduc said.

Mold is a one of the possible causes of health problems in children at Salem Elementary School on Route 85. The school closed temporarily in November after dozens of children experienced rashes and a few had respiratory problems, which could have been caused by moldy ceiling tiles and other factors, including a moldy crawl space under certain classrooms in the school. This can happen to anyone exposed to mold, in any building, according to a report by the state Department of Public Health.

Molds are microscopic fungi that live on plants, foods, dry leaves, wood and other organic materials. The reproductive organisms of the mold are called spores. The spores can cause allergic symptoms in humans that can be minor or severe, when present in large amounts. People who may be more susceptible are infants and children, elderly, immune-compromised patients and individuals with existing respiratory conditions or sensitivities, such as allergies and asthma.
Tom Fridinger, a building inspector for Ace Home Inspections in North Stonington, said he points out potential moldy areas to homebuyers because of its reputation to be a respiratory disease carrier.

"We usually find mold in basements, where the floor has been wet and never dries out," he said, adding mold formation needs warmth, moisture and a place to cling to.
Mold typically clings to wood-stacks, sheet-rock and porous surfaces, Fridinger said. It's likely to be found anywhere there are water leaks, such as bathrooms and under kitchen sinks. One way people can prevent mold is to paint their bathroom ceiling with a semi-glossy or mildew resistant paint.

"Bathroom ceilings, and corners of the shower area, mold likes to cling. Ceilings painted with flat, white paint often have mold because the paint is porous," he said.

The Department of Public Health does not recommend testing as the first step to determine if there's a mold problem because it's so costly. Basically, if you can see or smell mildew, you have a moisture and mold problem. The first step is to clean, disinfect and dry out the moldy area, and then to identify the moisture source and correct it.

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