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Mold

► See Mold Guidelines for Assessment and Remediation.
Other languages: [En Español]

    Special Announcement

    The Health Department, in cooperation with Columbia University, is looking for volunteer homeowners to participate in a mold testing study in Hurricane Sandy affected areas of Brooklyn and Queens.

    The study is funded by the federal government and will focus on 1 and 2 family houses that are planning mold cleanup. Qualifying homes will receive compensation (gift card or money) for their participation along with mold testing before and after cleanup. Call 311 and ask for Mold Testing Study.

What is mold?
mold on wall Mold (mildew), mushrooms, and yeast are all types of fungi. Fungi are found both indoors and outdoors. Hundreds of different kinds of mold are commonly found in the United States and New York City.

Where is mold found?
Mold usually grows in damp places, such as bathrooms
and basements.

How does mold grow?
It can grow almost anywhere there is water, high humidity, or damp conditions. Mold grows faster in warm temperatures and high humidity.

How are people exposed to mold?
  • You can breathe in mold particles if mold is disturbed
    or damaged.
  • You can also breathe in tiny spores (similar to seeds) that mold may release into the air.
  • You can touch mold and get it on your skin.
  • You can swallow mold if you eat moldy or spoiled food.

What are the health effects of mold?
  • Some people are allergic to molds.
  • Mold exposure may cause or worsen asthma symptoms, hay fever, or other allergies.
  • The most common symptoms of mold exposure are cough, congestion, runny nose, and trouble breathing. Symptoms usually disappear after the mold contamination is removed.
  • More severe reactions to mold may occur among workers exposed to large amounts of mold on the job, such as farmers working with moldy hay.

Should I see a doctor if I have been exposed to mold?
If you think that you or your children have symptoms related to mold exposure, you should see a doctor. Keep in mind that many symptoms associated with mold exposure are also caused by many other illness.

How can mold be prevented?
The best way is to remove water and moisture sources. Fixing leaks, drying damp areas, and removing humidity from the air (e.g., using a dehumidifier in basements; cracking a window while taking a shower in bathrooms with no exhaust ventilation) will help stop mold growth and keep it from coming back.

How can I safely clean mold in my home?
    mold on wall
  • Use soap or a detergent solution and water to clean small areas of mold (less than 10 square feet) on walls or other hard surfaces as soon as you see it.
  • Wear waterproof gloves.
  • Dry the cleaned area completely.
  • If the mold returns quickly or spreads, there may be an underlying problem such as a water leak. To stop mold, water problems must be fixed.
  • If large areas of mold are present, you may need a professional mold abatement company. Check the phone book for mold abatement contractors.

What does my landlord have to do?
  • Your landlord and building manager must keep your building in good condition so mold will not grow. This means repairing water leaks and correcting persistently high humidity levels.
  • If you have a lot of mold (more than 10 square feet) or it keeps coming back after you have cleaned it, ask your landlord to fix the problem.
  • If the problem isn't fixed, call 311.

More Resources

Last Updated: May 24, 2012

Images on this page are courtesy of the EPA