While there are 100s of types of mold, only the spores of a few can cause allergic reactions. Allergies to mold can cause watery eyes, runny or stuffed noses, itching, headaches, and difficulty breathing. You can treat these reactions with over-the-counter antihistamines, eye drops, and nasal sprays, or if they are severe, you can visit a doctor for a prescription treatment, and consult an allergist for an allergy shot.
Protecting yourself from mold:
In order to protect yourself, you must first identify a mold problem. Start by searching for moisture in areas that have a damp or moldy smell, particularly basements, kitchens, and bathrooms. Look for water stains or colored fuz around ceilings, walls, floors, windowsills, and pipes, look underneath and behind carpeting, furniture, and stored items, ad inspect kitchens, bathrooms, and basemetns for standing water and water stains.
Once you've identified the problem, fix any water problems and clean/remove wet materials, furnishings, or mold. clean up spills or flood within one day and let furniture dry in direct sunlight, dry all surfaces, and install a dehumidifier.
On Nantucket, especially in the humid summer months and months when flooding from storms is likely, it is important to be aware of the warning signs of mold, and use air conditioning, fans, or a dehumidifier to prevent mold growth.
Carbon monoxide (CO) is an invisible, odorless, tasteless gas that comes from fuel-burning machinery used indoors, car exhaust fumes, and combustion equipment such as furnaces or water heaters that are not working properly or with a blocked exhaust system.
When inhaled in high levels, CO can be fatal. Symptoms of CO poisoning are similar to those of the flu and allergies. It is most dangerous to infants, people with lung or heart disease or anemia. CO poisoning is often misdiagnosed as migraine headache, stroke, food poisoning, or heart disease.
Protecting your home from carbon monoxide:
CO poisoning is preventable if you know what to do. The following is recommended by the Department of Housing and Urban Development:
- Never run your car in a closed garage.
- Hire a professional to install fuel burning appliances, and check that work properly.
- Choose vented appliances.
- Never use a gas range or oven to heat your home.
- Have your heating system and chimneys inspected each year.
- During winter months, regularly check that vents, flues and chimneys are not blocked by snow or ice.
- Replace dirty air filters on heating and cooling systems.
- Never run a generator, power washer, or any diesel or gasoline-powered engine inside a basement, garage, or enclosed structure.
- Install ventilation for indoor combustion appliances and consider installing air exchanges or air conditioning if your home is tightly sealed.
- Never use a charcoal grill, hibachi, or camping lantern or portable stove inside your home, tent, or camper.
- Install carbon monoxide detectors near bedrooms.
- Talk to your doctor or local health department if you suspect that you, or a family member, might be suffering from CO poisoning.
- Call the Planning and Land Use Services Department, Mass Save, or the Fire Departmentif you have concerns or questions about the combustion appliances in your home.
Integrated Pest Management
IPM allows owners to protect their homes from pests without threatening their health. There are 3 steps:
- Find out what kind of pests you have and where they are coming from. You should research your pets to learn about their habits and how to target them.
- This step focuses on prevention and taking away shelter, food, and water from pests:
- Keep living areas clean and uncluttered
- Keep food properly stored
- Keep trash properly stored
- Fix plumbing and water leaks
- Seal points where they could come from such as gaps in walls, pipes, pavement, and other surfaces, with caulking, steel wool, or other pest-proof materials.
- Use traps and baits, then less-toxic dusts such as boric acid.
- Put the bait close tot he pests's hiding place, and don't spray pesticides. This would keep them away from the bait.
- When choosing and using chemicals, be sure to read every label thoroughly, and only use according to instructions.
Anyone or any home can get bedbugs. They are small bugs that live on human and animal blood and live in dark and undisturbed locations close to their host. The US Department of Housing and Urban Development has a bedbug action plan which you can access here.
Bedbug bites can cause itching,a nd sometimes can lead to secondary infections. Minimal treatment which may include anitbiotics, antihistamines, topical and oral corticosteroids, and epinephrine may be used. For more information visit the CDC
To tell if you have a rodent infestation, look for droppings around food, in drawers and cupboards, and under the sink, nesting material like shredded paper, fabric, or dried plants, signs of chewing on food packaging, holes chewed in walls and floors, and stale smells from hidden areas.
To prevent rodent infestations, seal holes inside and outside the home with steel wool or another material, and remove potential rodent nesting sites from your property, like leaf piles and deep mulch. In addition, clean up food and water sources in your house by keeping kitchen garbage properly stored, consistently turning compost pile, and stop feeling outdoor birds while controlling an infestation.
For more information, visit the CDC and EPA.
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Know your rights, visit the Attorney General's Guide to Landlord and Tenant Rights.
This page was last updated on November 3, 2019.