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Mold

The Environmental Health Epidemiology Bureau (EHEB) provides general information about the health effects of mold and how to clean up mold.

  • EHEB does not conduct mold testing, home inspections, or resolution for disputes between landlords and tenants.
  • New Mexico does not have laws or state agencies that regulate mold or have jurisdiction to enforce abatement. No federal indoor air quality standards exist for mold.
  • Mold and mold spores occur naturally and are present both indoors and outdoors. Excess moisture can cause mold to grow indoors.
  • Information on this web page provides information on cleaning and controlling mold growth. Fact sheets, tips, and guides are available for download.

What is mold?

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Excess moisture can cause mold to grow indoors and health effects from contact with mold are possible.

Controlling moisture by fixing leaks, having adequate ventilation and cleaning up after floods or other water damage is essential to prevent mold growth.

  • The key to mold control is moisture control.
  • If mold is a problem in your home, you should clean up the mold promptly and fix the water problem.
  • It is important to dry water-damaged areas and items within 24-48 hours to prevent mold growth.

Please see our Frequently Asked Questions publication for comprehensive information about how you can prevent, identify, and clean up indoor mold.


What are the health effects of mold?

Everyone is exposed to some amount of mold every day. Not everyone is mold sensitive. Continual exposure to active mold spores in the home, workplace or outdoors can, over time, cause or worsen health effects.


What are the health symptoms of mold exposure?

According to a 2004 Institutes of Medicine Report, Damp Indoor Spaces and Health, sufficient evidence exists only to link mold exposure to upper respiratory (nose and throat) symptoms, coughing, wheezing and asthma symptoms among sensitized individuals.

Molds produce allergens, irritants and, sometimes, toxins that may cause adverse health reactions. The types and severity of symptoms depend on the types of mold present, extent of the mold exposure and an individual's existing allergies to mold.


What if someone in my household is sensitive to mold?

Consult a health care provider to learn if the symptoms may be related to mold allergies. Keep anyone who is known to be sensitive to mold away from the exposure. You may need to find temporary living arrangements for them if the mold problem is large enough.


How can I prevent mold after a flood?

During monsoons and after floods the New Mexico Department of Health reminds New Mexicans they need to be proactive about preventing mold from growing in their homes. If you don’t immediately dry out your home and clean your belongings, you could be setting yourself up for problems down the road.

Read more about Avoiding Mold Growth After A Flood to learn how to protect yourself.


How do I clean up mold?

Clean-up of small areas of mold can be safely done by an individual home owner, who takes the proper precautions. It is important to take precautions to limit your exposure to mold and mold spores.

The following are basic steps recommended by the EPA:

  • Scrub mold off hard surfaces with detergent and water, and dry completely.
  • Fix plumbing leaks and other water problems as soon as possible. Dry all items completely.
  • Absorbent or porous materials, such as ceiling tiles and carpet, may have to be thrown away if they become moldy. Mold can grow on or fill in the empty spaces and crevices of porous materials, so the mold may be difficult or impossible to remove completely.
  • Avoid exposing yourself or others to mold.
  • Do not paint or caulk moldy surfaces. Clean up the mold and dry the surfaces before painting. Paint applied over moldy surfaces is likely to peel.
  • If you are unsure about how to clean an item, or if the item is expensive or of sentimental value, you may wish to consult a specialist. Look for specialists who are affiliated with professional organizations.
  • If the problem area is large and material needs to be replaced, you may want to Hiring Home Mold Remediation Professionals whom specialize in this.

Protection tips for cleaning:

  • Avoid breathing in mold or mold spores. In order to limit your exposure to airborne mold, you may want to wear an N-95 respirator, available at many hardware store.
  • Wear gloves. Avoid touching mold or moldy items with your bare hands. When working with water and a mild detergent, ordinary household rubber gloves may be used. If you are using a strong cleaning solution, you should select gloves made from natural rubber, neoprene, nitrile, polyurethane, or PVC.
  • Wear goggles. Avoid getting mold or mold spores in your eyes.

What is toxic mold?

Some molds can produce toxins under certain circumstances, but this does not occur everywhere there is mold growth. Research on the presence, detection and effects of mold toxins is ongoing. One mold in particular, Stachybotrys atra (chartarum) has received a lot of attention.

The initial reports on the health affects of this mold have been revised by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Fear of mold has been sensationalized in the news media and on many websites, and citizens need to be cautious when considering expensive testing and be informed about the kind of information that the testing will yield.

As a rule, mold testing in private homes when visible mold growth is present is not recommended by the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention nor the US Environmental Protection Agency.

It is stressed, however, that all mold, no matter the type, must be properly cleaned-up and moisture in the home must be controlled.

  • The key to mold control is moisture control.
  • If mold is a problem in your home, you should clean up the mold promptly and fix the water problem.
  • It is important to dry water-damaged areas and items within 24-48 hours to prevent mold growth.

Tenants and Landlords

If you rent your home and discover a leak or mold growth, you should report all plumbing leaks and moisture problems immediately to your building owner, manager or superintendent. In cases where persistent water problems are not addressed, you may want to contact local, state or federal health or housing authorities.

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