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Denise Byers
C21 Premiere Properties
210 S. Main St
Rutland, VT 05701

There’s a Fungus Among Us

Coughing? Wheezing? Experiencing flu like symptoms? The damp winter (and all of 2003, for that matter) has kept many of us feeling under the weather of late, but the damp conditions may be fueling a mold invasion in our own homes causing us to feel sick. If left unchecked, mold spores can wreak havoc with your family’s health and your house’s structural integrity.
“We all have mold in our homes,” says Jerry Misner Sr., business administrator with Grangeville Environmental Services, a remediation contractor based in Hanover, Pa. “The issue is whether these spores find a habitable place to grow in your home.”
The increased moisture much of the country saw in 2003, paired with manmade circumstances, such as increased construction, added insult to injury. “The environment is changing,” Misner says. “We’re taking away more land and changing the ecosystem. Global warming is changing the seasons, and humidity creates real opportunity for mold.” Toxicologists and physicians are becoming more educated on the effects of indoor allergens on human health as well.
Remediation contractors are usually called in for health-related issues. Only then do clients become aware of the extent of structural damage, Misner says. Contaminated wall-, flake- or particleboard, insulation and even framing can be damaged. GES has seen remediation cost as little as $200 and as much as $20,000, depending on the extent of the damage.

 “Controlling moisture is the best key to prevention,” says Richard Myers, GES’s field services coordinator. Moisture sources include a leaky roof, foundation, clogged gutters or pipe breaks in walls that go unnoticed. “Once it’s finally visible, you’ve got a real issue,” he says. “Taking a proactive stance now can save a lot of money in the future.”
Homeowners can combat potential problems by cleaning problem areas with a disinfectant. Although a mixture of bleach and water works well, it can
be toxic and difficult to use properly. Nontoxic cleaners are making their way into the market, however. “The key is to follow the directions,” Myers says.
Other minor problems can be dealt with by do-it-yourselfers. Simply tearing down drywall and replacing it can spread mold spores to other, noncontaminated areas of your home, but information on how to do it properly is readily available.
If you’re buying a home, make sure your home inspector is trained to identify mold. And if you’re selling your home, talk with your agent about mold inspections and proper disclosure.
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