Kalamaoo County

Environmental Health


There are no laws about mold in Michigan, but there are other laws that may help you. Help with Mold Resources

Environmental Health staff is available to answer general questions regarding mold within your home. We do not perform mold inspections and we do not recommend testing for mold.

Mold spores continually drift through the air and can be found in every dwelling. When excessive moisture or water accumulates indoors, mold growth will often occur, particularly if the moisture problem remains undiscovered or un-addressed. Mold can grow on wet or moist drywall, wallpaper, tile, wood, paper, carpet, and food.

There is no practical way to eliminate mold spores in the indoor environment; the only way to control indoor mold growth is to control moisture.

{Adapted from the Michigan Department of Health & Human Services: All About Mold}

Frequently Asked Questions:

  • What is mold?

    Mold is a living thing. It has tiny seeds, called spores that are found in the air both indoors and outdoors. The spores are so small that they cannot be seen without a microscope. When spores land on something dry, nothing happens. They get sucked up in the vacuum or wiped away when you dust. But if the spores land on something that is wet, they can begin to grow into the mold that you can see.

  • How do I know if I have mold growing in my house?

    You cannot see mold spores because they are too small, but once the mold starts to grow, it is noticeable. Mold can grow on almost anything, as long as there is a source of moisture. The growing mold can be different colors: white, gray, brown, black, yellow, orange or green. It can be fluffy, hairy, smooth or flat and cracked, like leather. Even if you can't see the mold, you will be able to smell it. Mold can smell very musty, like old books or wet dirt.

    Mold growing on a wall:

  • Should I hire someone to test for mold in my home?

    Testing for mold is not recommended. It does not matter what kind of mold you have or how much mold you have, you will clean all the mold the same way (Note: An exception would be if your physician recommends home testing and has the expertise to interpret the results for you). You can find mold just using your eyes and your nose. Look in places that are often wet or damp, like bathrooms or the kitchen; or other areas that have been wet because of leaks, floods or broken pipes.

  • What should I know about hiring a contractor?

    You do not need to hire a special "mold remediator" - regular home contractors can remove the mold and repair any damage caused by it. Use the phone book or ask friends for a good home contractor in your area. The State of Michigan does not certify or license companies for mold clean-up.

  • If I find mold, can I clean it up myself?

    If the mold is growing on something that can be cleaned with bleach and water, and you do not have asthma or other health problems, you can probably clean the mold yourself. If the area that is moldy is very large or you have health problems, you may want to hire a contractor to do the work for you. If you decide to clean the mold yourself, please read the Michigan Department of Health & Human Services's "Steps for Cleaning Mold" fact sheet before you start.

  • Where should I look for mold?

    Some common places to find mold are:
    • Anywhere inside homes with humidity above 60% (Example of a Relative Humidity Meter)
    • On soft things including clothes, rugs, curtains, stuffed toys, and other things made out of cloth
    • In kitchens on food, on walls, the floor or ceiling and around the stovetop
    • In basements around leaking pipes, on walls, the floor or ceiling
    • In bathrooms on the walls, floor, ceiling or around the shower (Open a window or run a fan during showers!)
    • On window sills and frames
    • In overwatered plants (dirt can grow mold)
    • In attics or crawl spaces from leaks in the roof

  • How do I check indoor humidity?

    • Drop three ice cubes into a glass, add water and stir. Wait three minutes. If moisture does not form on the outside of the glass, the air is too dry; you may need a humidifier. (Do not perform this test in the kitchen, because cooking vapors may produce inaccurate results.)
    • Frequent fogging of windows may indicate too much humidity. The appropriate relative humidity will allow only slight condensation along the lower edges or corners of windows. More condensation could be damaging.
    • Moisture buildup or mold on closet walls or room ceilings and walls indicates high humidity.

  • What if I think I have toxic black mold (Stachybotrys)?

    While stories about "toxic mold" have been on TV, black mold is not worse than any other mold you may find in your house. According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the term "toxic mold" is not really correct. While certain molds are toxigenic, meaning they can produce poisons (called mycotoxins), the molds themselves are not toxic or poisonous. You do not need to test your mold to find out if it is "toxic mold" - just clean it up like you would any other kind of mold.

  • How do I stop mold from growing in my home?

    For mold to grow, the spores need about two days of dampness in order to put down good "roots." If you discover a leak or a large spill, dry the area and use a fan to blow air over the area to dry it completely or open windows and doors for ventilation.

    Here are some other things you can do:
    • Always use the vent fan on your stove when cooking. It should be vented to the outside.
    • Turn on the vent fan in your bathroom when taking a shower and crack the door open. The fan should be vented to the outside.
    • If you have a damp basement or live in a basement apartment, use a dehumidifier.
    • Insure that your clothes dryer is vented to the outside.

    Have more questions? Contact us!

    Helpful Links:

    US Environmental Protection Agency - Mold and Moisture
    US Environmental Protection Agency - A Brief Guide to Mold
    Michigan Department of Health & Human Services - Mold and Your Health

  • The Kalamazoo County Health and Community Services Department programs are open to all without regard to race, sex, color, national origin, religion, height, weight, marital status, political affiliation, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability.

    Links to external sites do not constitute endorsements by Kalamazoo County.