People often ask us what mold levels in the home are considered safe. It's a reasonable question, considering nearly everyone has heard about the numerous health risks associated with exposure to mold (and if you're not familiar with those, you can read about them). While it's a good question, unfortunately there is no straightforward answer. There are currently no established safe levels of mold. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), any exposure to mold is potentially harmful.
So how do you know if you have hazardous levels of mold in your home?
If you want to know what kinds of mold are in your home and what mold levels are present, you can have your home tested for mold. There are do-it-yourself mold tests available and you can read more about those by following the link. We don't recommend them because they are not always accurate, many only test for a few types of mold (and there are more than 300 strains of mold sometimes found in homes in the United States), and the results can be difficult for most laypeople to interpret.
We recommend having a professional test your home for mold instead of using a do-it-yourself test kit. Most professionals that test for mold are actually engineers and they are highly trained to conduct tests with accuracy and precision. They will also be able to explain the results to you, including what types of mold were found (there are often several different types of mold present in the home at the same time) and how the levels of mold in your home compare to the levels of mold outside, and to other homes in your area.
That's not quite the same as telling you if the levels of mold in your home are safe, though.
Unfortunately, we often don't know. It can vary from person to person. Some people may get sick when exposed to just a small amount of mold, while others may seem unaffected by even large amounts of mold in the home. In general, the more mold in your home, the greater the likelihood you'll become ill from it. In addition, the longer the mold remains in your home, the greater your risk of mold-related illness. Of course, most types of mold grow rapidly, so the longer the mold remains in your home, the more mold there will be.
Some people are at greater risk for mold-related health problems than others, so mold levels that may be “safe” for others may not be safe for them. Those most susceptible to mold-related health problems include:
This does not mean that exposure to mold is safe for other people, however. Even healthy young adults can become ill due to mold exposure.
It's not always necessary, but there are times when having your home tested for mold can be useful. Consider having your home tested if:
To find qualified professionals that test homes for mold in your area, just follow the link.