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Rainy season spawns humidity, deadly molds

Date Posted: 2012-05-18

Okinawa’s sub-tropical environment is always warm and humid, ranking among the five most humid prefectures in Japan, but this is the season when it gets even worse.

Rainy season brings heavy humidity that wreaks damages to farmers and fishermen, and to supermarkets that must fend against the molds that plague vegetables. With humidity here averaging 75%, and more than 85% now through September, cautionary notes are being sounded about protecting foods, clothing and homes.

High humidity and high temperatures breed molds, which become worse when there’s little venting because of closed up areas during the rainy season. Closets and shoe boxes are susceptible, as are carpets and mattresses. Molds find their way everywhere.

Environmental safety specialists are cautioning about the dangers of molds, and offering solutions to at least reducing the damages they can inflict. Aerate rooms and closets frequently, they say, and remove mattresses from beds and allow air to circulate and the mattress to thoroughly dry.

Preventing mold is a challenge, but newspapers can help. Take and curl sheets of newspaper and leave them inside closets and shoe chests or boxes, because newspaper easily absorbs moisture. Consider using Bincotan, a high-grade charcoal produced from ubame oak, or purchase “Jyositsu Zai, a dehumidifying agent sold at any do it yourself store or supermarket in Okinawa. The Jyositsu Zai sells for ¥300~400 a pack, including a couple agents, but be prepared to be surprised how much moisture will collect. Change out the packs occasionally, avoiding touching the liquid that’s changed to a potentially dangerous aqueous solution. Just dispose as burnable rubbish.

Another suggestion or preventing molds is laying sunoko, a kind of slatted drainboard made of wood. Japanese use sunoko in places like baths, toilets, closets and gardens. Set sunoko in place and allow air to vent there. Sunoko is available in DIY shops, with some even offering fancy décor. In kitchens, turn on ventilators and allow the fans to vent hot air to the outside. Be sure to have ventilators on when using stoves or grills.

In bathrooms, pour cold water on a wall or bath after taking a bath or shower, as molds like warm and humid places, and definitely love bubble baths, soaps and shampoos. Cold water reduces the temperatures. Better yet, open windows after taking a bath, or venting the area with a fan.

Dehumidifiers are by far the best ways to prevent mold and humidity. Most air conditioners have a ‘dry’ function that uses less power than the full air conditioning function. This saves energy while providing stress reduction.

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