In February 2022, an online advertisement promoted the idea that there were easy and perhaps surprising ways to remove black mold from a home. The ad read: "The Easiest Ways to Get Rid of House Mold - This May Surprise You!"
According to The Associated Press, mold is "a type of fungus" that "reproduces via spores similar to pollen and likewise travels airborne." Homeowners and renters who find signs of mold should act fast to prevent the problem from spreading further. It could be a sign of an active water leak. In cases with large amounts of mold, it's recommended to quickly consult with licensed professionals.
The ad about house mold included a picture that, from looking at the electrical outlets, did not appear to be captured in the U.S.:
We clicked the ad. It led to the website pr.moldremovalsprosusa.com. The page showed several links:
The links on the page simply led to local listings for mold removal companies. The ad did not end up revealing "the easiest ways to get rid of house mold," nor did it document anything that could potentially "surprise" readers. It was clickbait, plain and simple.
The removal of house mold is known throughout the industry as mold remediation. Depending on how bad the situation is, getting rid of mold can often involve several steps. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency published that homeowners can handle the job themselves "if the moldy area is less than about 10 square feet," meaning "less than roughly a 3-foot by 3-foot (1-meter by 1-meter) patch."
However, a larger job likely needs the expertise of professionals. If a home is quite old, a mold remediation specialist often does not begin work until an environmental testing company has collected samples to test walls and flooring for traces of asbestos and lead. A water damage restoration company may also need to bring out large dehumidifiers and fans to dry the affected area for several days. Once in the clear, the mold remediation specialist can remove the mold with special equipment and safety gear.
Other specialists and contractors may need to be brought in later to repair flooring and walls. The entire process can sometimes take weeks or even months, depending on the size of the problem and the availability of professionals.
Is Mold Harmful?
According to the story from the Associated Press and a FAQ page from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, house mold can be a harmful presence, especially when it's in a home where people sleep and spend their daily lives:
While small portions of spores are generally harmless, breathing large amounts can cause allergic and respiratory problems in humans and animals, according to Centers for Disease Control. Minor symptoms, similar to any other allergen, vary between individuals and include runny nose, itching, throat irritation and sneezing. Mold spores can also trigger asthma attacks.
While the phrase "toxic mold" is a misnomer, the CDC states, some mold can produce proteins known as mycotoxins, which are harmful metabolic byproducts produced by fungi, including "black mold." These toxins can pose a more serious health risk when exposed to at high levels, particularly daily.
In sum, the ad that promised "the easiest ways to get rid of house mold" and said "this may surprise you" was nothing more than what's known as a search ad. Search ads simply lead to search results. For authoritative information on mold remediation, we recommend avoiding misleading ads. Instead, consult advice from the EPA, CDC, and licensed professionals in your area.