Home & Living

From Dampness to Danger

Combating mold in Bermudian Homes
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In Bermuda, thanks to our humid climate mold spores are everywhere – they are naturally occurring in the air we are breathing all the time. So, while a couple of small marks on the kitchen wall might not seem like a pressing issue, if we fail to address the underlying cause promptly, we can quickly become overrun without warning.

Especially for families with small children, elderly relatives, or allergy sufferers, its essential to understand the underlying causes and how to deal with them effectively.

I sat down with two of Bermuda’s indoor air quality experts to get some advice regarding how to tackle this ever-present interloper.


The term mildew is often used generically to refer to mold growth, but this is misleading because while mildew grows in humid environments (such as your bathroom) it is not actually toxic – while mold certainly is.

Ricardo Small, Founder of Healthy Air Bermuda says, “Molds include all species of microscopic fungi that grow in the form of multicellular filaments, while mildew refers to certain kinds of mold or fungus.”


While some jokingly refer to mold as the island’s “national flower”, this insidious “pest” requires neither light nor air to grow. Environmental Consultant, Jennifer Currie of IAQS says “mold requires moisture to grow and thrives in relative humidity of +60% – meaning that it is constantly growing in our climate.”

“The problems arise when mold sheds spores containing toxic elements called microbial volatile organic compounds (MVOC’s) causing a musty odor that you can smell,” she explained.


Although mold is commonly thought to occur most often in older homes, this is not necessarily the case.

“In the old days air flowed freely through our homes even when the windows were closed,” says Ms. Currie. “Ironically PVC windows and modern construction techniques which make homes more energy efficient by making them air-tight also have diminished ventilation in such a way that it actually makes it easier for mold to grow because there is practically no air movement.”


“Bermuda’s houses are built with concrete block or limestone, and there is no insulation between the walls, so moisture is continuously traveling through these porous materials into the home,” says Mr. Small. “If you have a washer and dryer that are not properly vented to the outside, they will regularly be adding moisture to the air inside your house. And when this moist air condenses on furniture and surfaces in places where the air is stagnant, that’s when mold and mildew start to grow.”


In our humid environment, it’s important for people to understand what they can do to avoid getting to the point where they need to call in experts to perform environmental testing and remediation.

Both air quality specialists agree that the best way to combat mold and mildew is to discourage its growth in the first place by properly ventilating your home on a regular basis.

Ms. Curry recommends opening as many windows as possible for at least an hour every morning and every evening to allow for sufficient air exchange inside the house even in the hottest summer months.

Mold particularly likes to grow on porous surfaces such as exposed wood and drywall so be sure to paint or seal these surfaces whenever possible and dispose of empty cardboard boxes and leftover building supplies promptly.

Organic materials (including skin cells, hair, fabric fibres, and food particles), commonly found in dust provide the nutrients that mold spores need to thrive so cleaning surfaces regularly will also help to stop dust from accumulating.

Maintaining your roof properly to stop moisture from entering the ceiling is also an effective way to minimize mold and mildew growth.

Effective Steps for Removing Mold from Walls:

1. Make a visual assessment – look for evidence of water intrusion and/or mold growth.

2. Open all of the windows in the house.

3. Be sure to wear an N95 mask or respirator, gloves, and an outfit with long sleeves.

4. Scrape and vacuum the affected surface thoroughly.

5. Wipe down the surface using a mixture of dish soap and water (or a mild solution of water and bleach).

6. Direct a fan at the surface until it is thoroughly dry.

7. Coat the surface with mold-inhibiting primer and paint.

8. If in doubt consult an air quality expert for advice regarding your specific situation.


Maintaining a mold-free home in Bermuda’s humid climate requires diligence and proactive measures. By regularly ventilating our homes, and promptly addressing any signs of mold, we can protect our living spaces from this pervasive issue. For families with young children, the elderly, and those with allergies or respiratory conditions, these steps are especially important.

Particularly in the summer, many island residents tend to operate air conditioners instead of opening the windows in a misguided effort to keep the house cool and dry. As much as this might seem like an effective way to maintain indoor air quality – according to Ms. Currie nothing could be further from the truth.

“Air conditioners merely recirculate the existing air – they do not draw clean air into the dwelling. Failing to ventilate the room adequately causes a build-up of indoor air pollutants from things like candles, air fresheners, cooking, and smoking.”

A “stuffy” room is unpleasant for just about everyone in Bermuda’s hot humid climate but for those suffering from asthma, allergies, and other respiratory illnesses such as COPD, the presence of mold and mildew as a result of poor indoor air quality can trigger breathing problems, drowsiness, nausea, headaches, dizziness, fatigue.

Consulting with air quality experts like Jennifer Currie and Ricardo Small can provide valuable guidance tailored to our specific needs. Ultimately, a well-ventilated, dry home is the best defence against the health risks posed by mold and mildew, ensuring a safer and more comfortable living environment for everyone.

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