Dealing With Winter Mold and Mildew Allergies

By Bill Kray

Mildew can smell bad and make you feel worse.

The damp winter weather is upon us. We shut the windows, close the drapes, fire up the heater, get cozy, and then it begins: sneezing, headaches, chest pains, and strange odors.

Bioaerosols are microscopic small living organisms or fragments of living things suspended in the air. Dust mites, molds, fungi, spores, pollen, bacteria, viruses, amoebas, fragments of plant materials, and human and pet dander (skin which has been shed) are some examples.

Substances which produce an allergic reaction in some people are called antigens or allergens. They can cause severe health problems like cold, pneumonia, allergies like rashes, hay fever, asthma, and runny noses. Severe reactions can even be fatal.

A few people develop a severe allergic lung reaction, which can destroy lung tissue. This is called hypersensitivity pneumonitis. It is not an infection, but repeated episodes can lead to infections of the lung, such as bacterial pneumonia.

Hypersensitivity pneumonitis can be triggered by exposure to very small amounts of the allergen, once a person is sensitive to it. Symptoms can range from tightness in the chest, cough, and difficulty in breathing, to low-grade fever, muscle aches, and headaches.

Bioaerosols, such as mold, mildew, and dust mites, are commonly found in indoor air. Control measures include reducing sources of moisture, reducing the relative humidity, and removing materials which contribute to the growth of these agents. Check periodically for moisture problems and maintain the air handling systems and filters.

Mrs. Clean Tips to Remove Musty Smells

Musty odors in the home can have several causes, but often mold and mildew are the main culprits. The bad smell is caused by mold and mildew building up and releasing foul gasses. A combination of moisture, lack of air circulation (stagnant air) and darkness will allow mold, mildew and odor to grow.

It is important to locate the source of the odor. Then take corrective action to remove the moisture problem first before addressing the odor. You will likely need to call in professionals to help if you have a water leak, cracked foundation or leaky roof because if the moisture is not stopped you'll be fighting a losing battle with odor.

Simply drying out the area of the house that smells musty may not be enough to completely eradicate the smell. If any amounts of mold spores remain, they will continue to spread throughout the room and house, keeping that musty smell coming back.

Mrs. Clean advises that the best way to remove all unpleasant smells from a house is to give every affected area a thorough scrubbing with a good cleaning agent such as:

  • one part boric acid
  • two parts white vinegar
  • two parts hydrogen peroxide
  • four parts water

Scrub the walls, floors, furniture and more with it. Just be sure not to saturate the items or area since too much moisture can aggravate the situation.

Zeolite is a natural mineral that absorbs odor without a perfume or masking agent, non-toxic and lasts for about six months. Put zeolite in the problem area and it will start absorbing musty smells right away.

In addition to lasting for six months, zeolite is also reusable! It is very simple to recharge this mineral. Just expose it to direct sunlight sunlight or put it into a two hundred and fifty degree oven for thirty minutes. Your zeolite's odor absorbing abilities have been restored.

Bill Kray

Los Angeles, United States

Vegetarian health advocate, graphic designer, illustrator, programmer and prolific blog writer.

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