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Facts About Mold

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 Information

  • The New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene: Call 311, or visit nyc.gov/health. Select ‘M’ in ‘Health Topics A to Z’ and click on ‘Mold’.
  • The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency: Visit www.epa.gov (type “mold” in the search box).

What is mold?

  • 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.

How do I recognize it?

  • Mold can be many different colors. It may look furry, slimy, or powdery.
  • Some mold has a musty, stale, or earthy odor.
  • Mold usually grows in damp places, such as bathrooms and basements.

What does mold need to grow?

  • Mold needs water and food. It can grow almost anywhere there is water, high humidity, or damp conditions.
  • Mold grows faster in warm temperatures and high humidity.
  • Mold can feed on paper, fabric, wallpaper glue, sheetrock, wood, soap scum, leather, and many other surfaces.

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 trigger or worsen asthma symptoms.
  • Some of the most common symptoms of mold exposure are congestion, cough, and runny nose.
  • 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 illnesses.

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 vent) will help stop mold growth and keep it from coming back.

How can I safely clean mold in my home?

  • Use soap or a detergent, 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.
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