Mold - Frequently Asked Questions
What is mold?
- Molds are organisms that may be found indoors and outdoors. Molds can be found almost anywhere; they can grow on virtually any substance, providing moisture is present.
- Molds are part of the natural environment and play an important role by breaking down and digesting organic material.
- The number of mold spores suspended in indoor and outdoor air fluctuates from season to season, day to day and even hour to hour.
- There is no practical way to eliminate all mold and mold spores in the indoor environment; the way to control indoor mold growth is to control moisture.
What causes mold to grow indoors?
- To grow indoors, mold needs moisture and organic materials, including paper, cloth, carpeting, plant material and soil.
- Common sources of water or moisture include building leaks, leaks in plumbing fixtures, high humidity or cold spots in a building (condensation).
- Warm and humid weather can be a factor indoors, if windows and doors are left open or when air conditioning units are not appropriately set or operating properly.
What are the health effects of exposure to molds?
- Some people are more sensitive to mold than others. Allergic reactions to mold are
common and can produce symptoms including:
- Sneezing or Runny nose
- Irritation of the eyes, skin, throat
- Mold exposure may cause or worsen asthma symptoms, hay fever, or other allergies.
- Mold exposure may result in opportunistic infections in persons whose immune systems are weakened or suppressed.
How is mold cleaned?
- The first step to mold cleanup is to control the moisture problem. The source of the water, humidity or dampness must be identified and corrected.
- Mold can be cleaned and dried off hard surfaces with water and detergent.
- Porous materials with extensive mold growth may need to be discarded (e.g., drywall, carpeting, paper, and ceiling tiles).
- All wet materials that can't be cleaned and dried thoroughly should be discarded.
Do you need to test for mold or know what kind of mold is growing?
- Mold testing is not recommended, nor is it required by any regulatory agency.
- Knowing the kinds of mold present does not change how you should respond to and clean up mold when it is visible. All mold is remediated the same way.
- Molds can be found anywhere, and mold levels vary widely, depending upon location, weather, and time of day.
How can you prevent mold in college living spaces?
The key to preventing mold is moisture control. Without excessive moisture in your living space, mold cannot grow. Taking these steps may prevent mold in living spaces.
- Keep windows fully closed as much as possible to prevent heat, humidity and outdoor mold from entering the building. Do not leave window open when you leave your rooms.
- Keep drapes open during the day if they are not needed for privacy or sleeping. This allows sunlight to enter the room and will help to prevent condensation and moisture from being trapped behind the curtain.
- Use a mid-range setting on temp control (68°-72°). Lowering the temperature of surfaces in the room will cause moisture to condense on windows and other hard surfaces in the room.
- Avoid taking long hot and steamy showers and make sure that the exhaust fan is running.
- Hang up wet towels or clothing to dry.
- Wipe up any water spills immediately.
- Take notice of any water leaks. If living on campus, notify your quad office and submit a work request through the on-line work order system FIXIT. Water leaks if unattended can lead to the development of mold.
What should you do if you have mold in your living space?
- Promptly report water leaks, moisture and mold problems.
- All water leaks, condensation or visible signs of mold should be immediately reported by submitting a Work Order though the online FIXIT work order request system ( https://www.stonybrook.edu/fixit/ ), or by calling Residential Operations at (631) 632-9585.
- If you’re experiencing any health problems, you are welcome to contact Student Health Service(SHS) for an appointment at 631-632-6740. If you choose not to use SHS, please follow up with your private physician.