Mold in the Environment

Molds include all species of microscopic fungi that grow in the form of multicellular filaments, called hyphae. Molds can thrive on any organic matter, including clothing, leather, paper, and the ceilings, walls and floors of homes with moisture management problems. Mildew can be found on shower walls, windowsills, and other places where moisture levels are high. Mildew refers to certain kinds of mold or fungus. The term mildew is often used generically to refer to mold growth. There are many species of molds.

Mold is naturally occurring, and is generally found everywhere. Mold has been present on the Earth for millions of years. Various species of molds can be found both indoors and outdoors. All molds are capable of producing toxins under specific conditions, but there is no one “toxic mold” that should raise additional concern. Mold can enter your home or work environment through open doorways, windows, vents, and heating and air conditioning systems. Mold in the air outside can also attach itself to clothing, shoes, bags, and pets, and can be carried indoors.

Indoors, mold will grow in places with a lot of moisture, such as around leaks in roofs,
windows, or pipes, or where there has been flooding. Mold grows well on paper products, cardboard, ceiling tiles, and wood products.

Mold and Your Health

For the majority of the population, exposure to small amounts of mold does not present a health risk. Some people are sensitive to molds. For these people, molds can cause nasal stuffiness, throat irritation, coughing, wheezing, eye irritation, or, in some cases, skin irritation. People with mold allergies or asthma may have more severe reactions.

Mold Prevention

Mold growth can be controlled by:
● Keeping humidity at appropriate levels
● Promptly fixing leaky roofs, windows, and pipes
● Thoroughly cleaning and drying if flooding has occurred
● Ventilating areas that produce excess moisture

Mold Testing or Sampling

If visible mold growth is present, sampling is unnecessary in most cases. Since no EPA or other federal limits have been set for mold or mold spores, sampling cannot be used to check a building's compliance with federal mold standards. You do not need to identify the type of mold growing in your area. No matter what type of mold is present, it should be cleaned and removed.

Best Practices

The best practice is to remove the mold and work to prevent future growth. If you are a student in a residence hall, contact Residential Life to place a work order with Facilities Management. If you are not in a dorm, call Facilities Management at 607-777-2226 and request to have the moisture source investigated and/or repaired and the mold removed or remediated.

How Can You Prevent Mold in Your Dorm, Office or Home?

Taking these steps may prevent mold by limiting excessive moisture:
● Wipe up any water/liquid spills immediately
● Empty trash and recycling regularly
● Limit plants in the area as wet soil/plants/containers introduce moisture and can
promote fungal growth
● Store food in airtight containers
● Regularly clean out your refrigerator
● Do not tamper with or block off air ducts
● Do not block air flow from vents with furniture, clothing, etc.
● Hang up wet towels or clothing to dry
● Turn on exhaust fans, if available, in bathrooms while showering. If exhaust fans aren’t
available, open a window a few inches if possible to increase ventilation.
● Avoid taking long, hot, steamy showers and make sure that the exhaust fan is running
while and after you shower.