Mold Basics

Molds are fungi that can grow almost anywhere. Mold may begin to grow indoors when mold spores land on a wet surface. Mold grows well on paper and wood products and can attack many materials found in buildings such as fiberboard, drywall, carpet backing, ceiling tiles, insulation, fabric, upholstery paper, dust, wood, paints, and exposed soils in crawlspaces. Mold come in many colors and can often be detected by a musty odor and discoloration of affected surfaces. Mold must have moisture/ water to grow. If there is mold growing in your home, there must be a source of water. There is no practical way to get rid of all indoor molds, but you can prevent and control mold growth indoors by controlling moisture.

Mold Health Affects

Fortunately, for most individuals, mold does not cause serious health concerns. However, molds do have the potential to cause health problems, particularly in people who are sensitive to it. Molds produce substances that can cause allergic reactions, irritants, and respiratory symptoms. Some people who may be sensitive to mold include: the very young and elderly; people with respiratory conditions, such as asthma; and, people with compromised immune systems.

Allergic responses to mold may include sneezing, runny nose, red eyes, and skin rash. In both mold-allergic and non-allergic people, mold exposure can irritate the eyes, skin, nose, throat, and lungs. Molds can also trigger asthma attacks in people with asthma who are allergic to mold. All molds should be treated the same with regard to their potential health effects and cleanup.

Please consult with your private physician regarding you and your family’s health concerns related to mold.

Shelby County Health Department’s Responsibilities

  • Shelby County Health Department CAN provide general mold information.
  • Shelby County Health Department CAN provide contact numbers / referrals to other agencies that may help in resolving a mold problem.
  • Shelby County Health Department CANNOT provide physician examinations relating to mold exposure.
  • Shelby County Health Department CANNOT conduct inspections, clean-up / removals for mold problems, or help with any legal issues in public or private residences.
A diagram of various causes for mold in a typical home.