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When removing mold, respiratory protection is mandatory

After the damp winter, the mold sprouts. But even with the removal of small spots, caution, experts warn. Some remedies help, others do not.

Er slowly spreads, smells like musty potato cellar and loves the humidity: mold in the living room. Especially after the winter months, many people experience a nasty surprise when the unpleasant mushroom has formed in cold corners, behind cupboards and on mattresses.

“As soon as you discover mold, you should definitely remove it immediately,” advises Christiane Baschien from the Federal Environment Agency in Berlin. Molds not only look ugly, but are harmful to health, especially because of spores and mycotoxins released.

They can cause discomfort with the bronchi, cause allergies or cause headaches .

According to Baschien, consumers can treat small mold damage whose area does not exceed half a square meter. The right protection should not be forgotten.

The scientist recommends to get a respirator mask of the filter class FFP2 or 3 in the hardware store, so that the spores are not inhaled.

“Then you can remove the wallpaper on the affected wall areas and treat the area with 70-percent alcohol.” On smooth surfaces, the wipe with the mixture, but silicone joints should be renewed.

“Mold ex” not recommended

Chlorine-containing agents and everything that circulates under the name “Schimmel-Ex” of various companies, are not advisable in the mold removal, says the building biologist Ilka Mutschelknaus from Hamburg. These cleaning agents harm the respiratory system when inhaled and are ecologically questionable.

Even the home remedy vinegar does not recommend it: “Some indoor molds like vinegar, for them, it even forms a kind of breeding ground.” Who wants to use a sanitary cleanser, take better preparations based on fruit acid at hand.

After treating the affected areas you have to dispose of the used cloth or brush directly, so that the mold can not spread elsewhere, explains Mutschelknaus.

Subsequently, it is important that the consumer goes to search for causes. “If I do not know how the mold was created, I can not prevent him from coming back,” says the expert.

There can be various causes for mold: In general, mold growth is associated with too much moisture, explains the biologist Silke Christiansen, who works for the environmental consultancy Bremen. Because of a leaky roof or a leaking pipe in the wall, the building material could be moistened.

In winter, condensation water is added – this occurs when the room humidity is not reflected in sufficiently heated rooms.

More moisture due to higher insulation value

This is according to Christiansen especially in the old building a problem, since there the simple glazed windows were replaced over time against new ones. Thus, the windows have a higher insulation value and the moisture condenses on the coldest component: the outer walls, which are referred to as thermal bridges.

Prevention can be the formation of mold especially by proper ventilation and heating. In the winter, aerofoil is important, explains environmental hygienist Baschien. Then the humid air produced by cooking, showering and breathing can be quickly replaced with dry air from outside without cooling the walls.

Even for working people, it is possible to ventilate two to three times a day for ten minutes. An air humidity of about 60 percent should not be exceeded. In addition, according to Baschien, it is advisable to heat evenly and to ensure that the temperature differences between the rooms are not too large.

Several layers of paint promote mold growth

The wall paint is also a crucial factor in mold prevention. Especially in rented apartments, older paint layers are often simply painted over when they move in, so that over time a kind of skin forms on the plaster and it can no longer breathe.

Then the condensation runs down the walls. This is mainly because of the fact that in most apartments cheap emulsion paints would be used. Better are pure silicate and lime paints. “These colors are breathable and inhibit mold growth,” says the expert.

In addition to the mold, which can be formed by incorrect ventilation and heating on the wallpaper or in the silicone joints in the bathroom, there is also a kind of fungal attack that is not immediately discovered: the so-called hidden mold.

“This is a difficult case,” says Christiansen. “You do not see anything, and you usually do not smell anything.” People often come up with the idea that if they have unexplained health problems for a long time, they might be in the house.

Then, according to Christiansen, you should do a room air analysis or let an expert examine the apartment with a trained on spores gray dog. The hidden mold can be found, for example, behind cabinets or even in the wall, where the building material was moistened because of a leaky pipe.

Who will pay for the costs?

Often there is a dispute between tenant and landlord in case of mold damage in the apartment: who is to blame? “The tenant must control the room temperature and humidity.

In contrast, the landlord is responsible for structural defects, “says Marle head of the consumer center North Rhine -Westphalia. Often an appraiser would have to examine the damage and perform a moisture diagnosis.

“If it comes to a lawsuit, often both parties are a guilty part,” says Silke Christiansen of the Bremer Umweltberatung. Therefore, it may be better to agree out of court.

The affected tenants are advised by the Professional Association of German Building Biologists, the Consumer Centers or the German White Horse Network.

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