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MOLD AND MOLD SPORES IN YOUR AIR - UNDERSTANDING MOLD AND HOW IT AFFECTS US

WHAT IS MOLD?

Molds are microscopic organisms that belong to the fungi kingdom, so they are neither plant nor animal. Molds keep the natural world livable by decomposing leaves, wood, and other plant debris. It’s unknown just how many types of mold exist, but estimates range from 10,000 to 300,000 or more. Found both indoors and out, mold can find its way into our homes because of its taste for things like wood, ceiling tiles, wallpaper, paint, carpet, sheet rock, and insulation. Mold is happiest in in warm, damp, and humid conditions, and while mold spores can survive harsh, dry conditions, it limits their reproduction and normal growth.

HOW DOES MOLD GET INTO THE AIR

Mold is everywhere. In the dark corners of the basement. That damp spot under the kitchen sink. The pile of dead leaves and grass clippings in the yard. It can find its way into wood, tile, wallpaper, paint, carpet and even insulation. All mold needs is a bit of moisture to grow and thrive. And when mold reproduces; its seed-like spores are a mere 3 to 40 microns in size — invisible to the naked eye. The spores are released into the air anytime a mold-covered surface is disturbed. Because mold and mold spores are so tiny and lightweight, they easily travel through the air undetected, and get inhaled.

WHAT’S THE PROBLEM? THE EFFECTS OF MOLD AND MOLD SPORES

Tiny but mighty, mold can be a problem for our homes and our health. The National Capital Poison Center explains, “actively growing mold damages the material it lives on, thereby impairing structural integrity. In addition, mold is associated with some untoward health effects in humans, including allergies and infections.” After spending time in a moldy room, it’s common to experience respiratory problems and headaches, but it can do more. The Mayo Clinic says, “Although a mold allergy is the most common problem caused by exposure to mold, mold can cause illness without an allergic reaction. Mold can also cause infections or irritant and toxic reactions. Infections caused by mold can lead to a variety of problems from flu-like symptoms to skin infections and even pneumonia.” Symptoms of mold allergies include:

  • Nasal congestion
  • Runny nose
  • Sneezing
  • Irritated eyes
  • Coughing
  • Wheezing
  • Itchy throat

BEST AIR FILTERS FOR REMOVING MOLD AND MOLD SPORES

There’s no escaping mold or mold spores, but you can cut down on its presence in your home. By using an air filter with a rating of MERV 6, MERV 8, or MERV 11 in your heating and cooling system you can breathe fresh, clean air because the filter will catch the airborne mold particles so there’s less in your home’s air.

WHEN TO REPLACE THE FILTER

It’s important to routinely replace your filter for clean air and optimal efficiency. Evert air filter comes with a recommended replacement frequency, commonly every 3 to 6 months. By following the manufacturer's recommendations, you can reduce the chance of your filter becoming clogged with particles. A clogged filter greatly reduces its efficiency, restricts airflow, and increases pressure on the fan side, which strains your air conditioner or furnace. It’s important to avoid reducing the airflow rate because it can negatively impact the air quality in your home.

MOLD FAQ

What is a micron?

One micron is one millionth of a meter or approximately 1/25,000 of an inch. For comparison, a human hair is about 70 microns thick. A mold spore can be as small as 3 microns — invisible to the naked eye. Typically, air filters are rated by the size of the particles they can remove. Most decent furnace filters can easily remove particles larger than 10 microns in size, but the best filters are able to remove particles smaller than 3 microns.

How do I keep mold out of my home?

Mold and mold spores are a fundamental part of earth’s ecosystem, and while it’s necessary outdoors, it can easily make its way indoors. There are ways you can make it difficult for mold to feel at home — things like making sure pipes don’t have a slow leak, scrubbing bathroom tile and keeping the humidity level low. And you can employ the help an air filter that’s designed to trap airborne allergens like mold before they enter your home. For clean, purified air in your home, use a filter with a rating of MERV 6, MERV 8, MERV 11, MPR 300 or FPR 5.

I live in an apartment, what can I do to reduce mold in my home’s air?

It might be helpful to invest in and air purifier like the 3M Filtrete Office Air Purifier. They are a great way to capture mold as well as dust, pollen and pet dander in apartments, dorms and even offices. They quietly clean a room’s air, emitting fresh, purified air.

If a MERV 6 is good, is a 12 twice as good? Is a higher rating better?

While a higher rating often means better, it’s not necessarily the case with air filters. Higher MERV ratings can restrict airflow, which would be counterproductive. MERV ratings above 13 are used in hospitals, particularly in surgical suites, because their rigorous design can be supported by industrial-grade ventilation system.

What is a pleated filter?

A pleated air filter, unlike its flat fiberglass counterpart, doubles up its fabric, providing more surface area to capture airborne pollutants like mold. As a result, a pleated filter will help reduce more pollutants from making it into your home’s air.

Do I really need to change my filter every 3 months?

If that’s the manufacturer’s suggestion, it’s wise to follow it. Depending on the air quality where you live, it might be wise to replace it even more often. It’s important to routinely replace filters because they lose their effectiveness over time. As the impurities are trapped, they build up and eventually clog the filter, slowing efficiency and decreasing the ability to purify. In addition to replacing your air filter, make sure the filter on your vacuum cleaner is routinely washed or replaced. A dirty, clogged vacuum filter loses its effectiveness and will essentially “rearrange” the dirt and allergens. By cleaning or replacing the filter, you’ll keep the allergens contained and not causing irritation.

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For answers to filter-related questions, recommendations on the air filters, or general air quality questions, contact us.