About Mold and Moisture

Mold will grow in places with a lot of moisture, such as around leaks in roofs, windows, or pipes, or where there has been flooding. Mold grows well on paper products, cardboard, ceiling tiles, and wood products. Mold can also grow in dust, paints, wallpaper, insulation, drywall, carpet, fabric, and upholstery.1

Facts and Figures

  • Asthma affects almost 25 million Americans, including an estimated 7 million children.2
  • Asthma is one of the most common chronic pediatric disorders. It affects an estimated 7.1 million children under 18 years of which 4.1 million suffered from an asthma attack or episode in 2011.3
  • Asthma leads to 205,000 pediatric hospitalizations and 697,000 emergency department visits annually.4
  • Asthma is one of the leading causes of school absenteeism; in 2008, asthma accounted for an estimated 14.4 million lost school days in children with an asthma attack in the previous year.3
  • Approximately 24 percent of children ages 5-17 have some limited activity due to asthma.5
  • In 2004 the Institute of Medicine (IOM) found there was sufficient evidence to link indoor exposure to mold with upper respiratory tract symptoms, cough, and wheeze in otherwise healthy people; with asthma symptoms in people with asthma; and with hypersensitivity pneumonitis in individuals susceptible to that immune-mediated condition. The IOM also found limited or suggestive evidence linking indoor mold exposure and respiratory illness in otherwise healthy children.6
  • Asthma has no cure. However, utilizing the proper knowledge and treatments, most people are able to manage the disease.7


Some people are sensitive to molds. For these people, molds can cause nasal stuffiness, throat irritation, coughing or wheezing, eye irritation, or, in some cases, skin irritation. People with mold allergies may have more severe reactions. Immune-compromised people and people with chronic lung illnesses, such as obstructive lung disease, may get serious infections in their lungs when they are exposed to mold. These people should stay away from areas that are likely to have mold, such as compost piles, cut grass, and wooded areas.1

Gain Control: Actions You Can Take

To help prevent health risks due to mold and moisture, see below for suggested actions you can take:6

  • If mold is growing in your home, you need to clean up the mold and fix the moisture problem. Mold growth can be removed from hard surfaces with commercial products, soap and water, or a bleach solution of no more than 1 cup of bleach in 1 gallon of water. If you choose to use bleach to clean up mold:
    • Never mix bleach with ammonia or other household cleaners. Mixing bleach with ammonia or other cleaning products will produce dangerous, toxic fumes.
    • Open windows and doors to provide fresh air.
    • Wear non-porous gloves and protective eye wear.
  • Be sure your home has enough ventilation. Use exhaust fans which vent outside your home in the kitchen and bathroom. Make sure your clothes dryer vents outside your home.
  • Fix any leaks in your home’s roof, walls, or plumbing so mold does not have moisture to grow.
  • Dry damp or wet things completely within one to two days to keep mold from growing.
  • Maintain low indoor humidity, ideally between 30-50% relative humidity. Humidity levels can be measured by hygrometers, which are available at local hardware stores.

Check out the following resources for more tips about what to do if you have mold or moisture in your home:

Local Resources for Detroit Residents

For contact information of partner organizations that might be able to provide help with mold and moisture hazards in your home, visit our Get Help page.


1CDC: Facts About Mold and Dampness (http://www.cdc.gov/mold/dampness_facts.htm)
2U.S. Environmental Protection Agency: What is Asthma (http://www.epa.gov/asthma/about.html)
3American Lung Association: Asthma & Children Fact Sheet (http://www.lung.org/lung-disease/asthma/resources/facts-and-figures/asthma-children-fact-sheet.html)
4Takaro, T.K., et al. (2011). The Breathe-Easy Home: The Impact of Asthma-Friendly Home Construction on Clinical Outcomes and Trigger Exposure. American Journal pf Public Health, 101(1), 55-62. <http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3000722/>
5PediatricAsthma.org: Asthma Burden (http://www.pediatricasthma.org/about/asthma_burden)
6U.S. Environmental Protection Agency: Asthma Triggers: Gain Control (http://www.epa.gov/asthma/molds.html)
7National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute: What Is Asthma? (http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/asthma/)