|Indoor Air Quality & Asthma
In the last several years, a growing body of scientific evidence has indicated that the air within homes and other buildings can be more polluted than the outdoor air. Other research indicates that people spend approximately 90 percent of their time indoors. Thus, for many people, the risks to health may be greater due to exposure to air pollution indoors than outdoors.
Mold, or fungi, lives in virtually any building, under sinks, in bathrooms, basements, refrigerators, or any damp dark place. At first, the mold is inconspicuous, or microscopic. After it has spread and completely covered the area with millions of cells, you start to see the mold. If mold is discovered, the first task is to locate and fix the source of the problem; this may be roof or window leaks, leaks from wind driven rain, leaks from plumbing, or excess moisture in your home from high humidity. In most cases, the best level of control of contaminated materials is the complete removal of the contaminated items. This includes completely replacing wallboard, sheet rock, insulation and carpeting or damaged organic materials (wood bearing products). Small areas of mold may be cleaned using a weak bleach solution. In this case, you must assure that the contaminated item be allowed to dry completely.
To prevent mold proliferation in your home or building:
How N.C. Public Health can help:
- Reduce indoor humidity by:
- Maintaining building under positive pressure (keeps moisture and nutrients outside the building in their natural environment)
- Vent moisture producing sources to the outdoors, (laundry room exhaust, bath exhaust, cooking exhaust) do not vent to the attic or the crawlspace.
- Maintaining relative humidity in the home below 50%
- Controlling growth at the source:
- Look for and correct the cause of water stains on ceilings, walls and floors
- Assure plumbing fixture integrity
- Assure that all HVAC drain pans are sloped properly and that drains are free of obstruction
- Inspect HVAC equipment periodically for sources of contaminant or moisture buildup
- Eliminate all sources of condensation, windows, piping, etc.
- Seal penetrations in walls or floors, especially below ground
- Check for moldy odors
- Check crawlspaces for excess moisture, plumbing leaks or standing water
- REMOVE ANY SOURCE OF FREESTANDING WATER.
Carteret County Division of Environmental Health does not have any regulatory authority over mold or other indoor air quality problems, bur staff is available to offer suggestions and answer general questions. For advice about indoor air quality, call (252) 728-8499.
The State of North Carolina Division of Environmental Health includes Industrial hygienists, physicians and toxicologists with Occupational and Environmental Epidemiology in the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services who serve as consultants to school systems, local health departments, homeowners, renters, employees, business owners, physicians, and other governmental agencies.
- Provide guidance and literature to the general public and others on various IAQ topics.
- Provide training and support on IAQ-related issues to local health departments and other organizations.
- May conduct on-site IAQ evaluations of buildings such as schools, governmental offices, and selected other buildings, as requested by physicians, local health departments and other governmental agencies.
Contact: Occupational and Environmental Epidemiology
Division of Public Health
North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services
1912 Mail Service Center
Raleigh NC 27699-1912
Phone: (919) 733-3410
Fax: (919) 733-9555
Indoor Air Quality Links
Information about mold from the Epidemiology Section of the North Carolina Department of Public Health.
The Environmental Protection Agency has an extensive amount of information on indoor air quality including articles on asthma, molds and mildew, second hand smoke, air quality in schools, and radon at their Indoor Air Quality (IAQ).
The Occupational Health and Safety Administration has a page on Safety and Health Topics: Indoor Air Quality which covers recognition, evaluation and control of indoor air quality problems, and a section on compliance with current laws and requirements.
Montana State University has a Healthy Indoor Air page with information on Indoor Air Science, Building Science, Health and Economic Effects, a FAQ, links, and more.
The U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission has a number of publications on how to protect yourself from paint strippers, asbestos, lead, carbon monoxide, as well as information about carpet, water sealers, portable generators, room humidifiers, and a host of other topics.
The California Research Bureau of the California State Library has prepared a paper on Molds, Toxic Molds, and Indoor Air Quality (PDF) that contains much useful information about a topic much in the news today.
Healthy Indoor Air for America's Homes is the General Services Administration website for Indoor Air Quality. This is part of the Federal Citizen Information Center in Pueblo, Colorado.