WHEELER ARMY AIRFIELD, Hawaii – Mold is something most people don't think about until they see it. Or smell it.
The best way to keep mold at bay is to be proactive. This includes increasing ventilation, removing moisture and immediately cleaning any beginning signs of its growth.
Molds love moisture and need to have a food source. Good food sources for molds include cloth, wood, and wallboard. When there is moisture that is not dried promptly such as a burst pipe or leaking windows in rain storms, molds move in and reproduce quickly.
In humid environments like Hawaii, keeping surfaces dry enough to prevent mold growth can be challenging.
If you have mold in your home
Mold can look like spots. It can be many different colors, and it can smell musty. If you see or smell mold, you should remove it. You do not need to know the type of mold.
If mold is growing in your home, you need to clean up the mold and fix the moisture problem. Mold can be removed from hard surfaces with household products, soap and water, or a bleach solution of no more than 1 cup of household laundry bleach in 1 gallon of water.
If you use bleach to clean up mold
- Never mix bleach with ammonia or other household cleaners. Mixing bleach with ammonia or other cleaning products will produce a poisonous gas.
- Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions when you use bleach or any other cleaning product.
- Open windows and doors to provide fresh air.
- Wear rubber boots, rubber gloves, and goggles during cleanup of affected areas.
- If the area where mold has been found is larger than 10 feet, on-post housing residents should contact their community center or barracks management representative for professional remediation.
U.S. Army Garrison Hawaii housing residents can report excess mold growth in their home to their maintenance team. Family housing residents should call 808) 457-4075 and barracks residents should call (808) 787-1275.
To prevent mold growth in your home
Keep humidity levels in your home as low as you can—no higher than 50%–all day long. An air conditioner or dehumidifier will help you keep the level low.
Be sure the air in your home flows freely. Use exhaust fans that vent outside your home in the kitchen and bathroom. Make sure your clothes dryer vents outside your home.
Submit a maintenance request for any leaks in your home’s roof, walls, or plumbing so mold does not have moisture to grow.
Clean up and dry out your home fully and quickly (within 24–48 hours) after a flood.
Clean bathrooms with mold-killing products.
Remove or replace upholstery that has been soaked and cannot be dried right away. Consider not using carpet in places like bathrooms or basements that may have a lot of moisture.
Should I get my home tested for mold?
Some types of mold are more dangerous than others, but testing for mold is neither necessary nor reliable.
If you are susceptible to mold and mold is seen or smelled, there is a potential health risk; therefore, no matter what type of mold is present, you should arrange for its removal.
There are no set standards for what is and what is not an acceptable quantity of different kinds of mold in a home. The best thing you can do is to safely remove the mold and work to prevent future mold growth.
Mold can cause many health effects, but the presence of mold in a home does not automatically mean its occupants are at risk of getting sick. For some people, mold can cause a stuffy nose, sore throat, coughing or wheezing, burning eyes, or skin rash.
People with asthma or who are allergic to mold may have severe reactions. Immune-compromised people and people with chronic lung disease may get infections in their lungs from mold.
Anyone having symptoms related to possible mold exposure should make note of the timing of the symptoms and see their health care provider for evaluation.