Information about Mold

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Overview

Mold is a type of fungus that is part of our natural environment. It can be found indoors and outdoors.

There are no government agencies in Arlington County or the Commonwealth of Virginia that inspect, test, or remediate mold. We also cannot provide recommendations for remediation professionals. There are no federal laws or limits for mold or mold spores.

Health Risks

Indoor mold can destroy surfaces and has the potential to cause health problems. Some people may have an allergic reaction when they touch or inhale mold or mold spores. Symptoms include a stuffy or runny nose, eye irritation, wheezing, sneezing, and skin irritation. Mold can also trigger an asthma attack in people with asthma. If you think mold is making you or your family sick, talk to your healthcare provider.

Identification

Your eyes and nose are good tools in finding mold.

  • LOOK– Do you have leaks, standing water, water damage, or water marks? Have you had recent flooding? Look behind and underneath furniture and other materials in suspected areas. Mold on surfaces can look fuzzy or slimy and it can be brown, black, green, white, or a variety of other colors.
  • SMELL– Sometimes you can’t see mold. If you notice an earthy, musty smell in a certain area of your home, you may have mold, especially if you have experienced recent water damage or moisture.

Prevention

Although mold can survive in many places, it prefers warm, damp, and humid conditions. Water and moisture are necessary for mold and mold spores to multiply and grow. In high moisture and humidity, mold can grow within 24 to 48 hours. Here are some things you can do to prevent mold:

  • Use air conditioning (A/C) or dehumidifiers, especially during humid Virginia summers! If you do not have A/C, use fans.
  • Use bathroom fans during and after bathing/showering.
  • Clean up spills and leaks quickly—especially on carpets.
  • Use kitchen fans when cooking or running the dishwasher.
  • Avoid using humidifiers unless medically necessary.

    Removal

    If the moldy area is small (less than 10 square feet), you may be able to clean it yourself. For larger areas, you may need professional help.

    • Scrub mold off hard surfaces with detergent and water, and dry completely.
    • Porous materials with mold growth, such as dry wall, carpet, upholstery, and insulation, are difficult to clean and may need to be thrown away.
    • Do not paint or caulk moldy surfaces. Clean up the mold and dry the surfaces first.
    • Keep in mind that no matter how good the mold cleanup is, if the water problem is not solved, mold will return!
    • See the EPA's Tips and Tricks for mold cleanup.

    Help for Renters

    Download Mold Information for Renters(PDF, 472KB).

    School Mold Reporting

    Effective July 1, 2021, each local school board must develop and implement a plan to test and, if necessary, a plan to remediate mold in public school buildings in accordance with guidance issued by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. For more information, visit the Virginia Department of Health.