Area I braces for mold season
CAMP RED CLOUD, South Korea -- The month of May brings not only hope of nicer weather but also the threat of mold.
Mold is a type of fungus -- and potentially a source of serious respiratory ailments and damage to property -- that grows in places where warm temperatures and moisture combine.
In Korea May 1 through September 30 is considered the mold season.
Indoors, mold can grow on wood, paper, fabrics, carpet, food and other organic materials.
So officials at the U.S. Army Garrison Red Cloud and Area I's Directorate of Public Works are reminding members of the Area I community to take quick action to combat mold.
Mold spores waft through the air, outdoors and indoors. When the spores land on a damp spot they may start growing and eating whatever they're growing on in order to survive, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
And in big enough quantities mold can lead to asthma, respiratory infections, allergic illness and other health problems.
"Mold loves wet, hot areas," said Marshall Downs, chief of DPW's Operations and Maintenance Division.
"And mold can take over a big area when you don't stay on top of it."
While it's impossible to get rid of all mold and mold spoors indoors, it won't grow unless moisture is present.
If the mold itself is cleaned up but the water source isn't cut off, chances are the mold problem will return.
That makes controlling moisture indoors a critical step in fending off mold.
"So, for example, if you have a leaking pipe in your ceiling," said Downs, "and you've got one of those drop ceilings, you need to call in a service order. Because once that tile gets wet, you'll start seeing it go from yellow to green to brown to black."
Besides the health problems mold can cause, it can also ruin clothes and furniture, and cost both residents and the Army money, said Downs.
If mold appears, it should be scrubbed off hard surfaces with detergent or any general purpose cleaning agent.
"Warm soapy bleach water is the best," said Downs.
The surfaces should then be dried completely. Gloves, a mask and goggles should be used while cleaning.
Excess moisture should be wiped off in places that can be safely reached, such as furniture, walls and ceilings in bathrooms and spaces in air conditioning vents.
After showering, shower room doors should be closed and exhaust fans turned on.
But in addition to those and other steps individual occupants can take on their own, they should also call DPW if they think there may be a mold-related problem in their on-post quarters or workplace.
"If their exhaust fan doesn't work in their bathrooms or their buildings, they need to call in a service order so we can come out and check it, or replace it," said Downs.
DPW crews are also prepared to ensure doors have proper weather stripping, and that air conditioners are working right, he said.