Mold spores are everywhere and thrive in humid or wet conditions. Growth is enhanced if conditions include low/no light and poor air circulation (a basement, garage, closet). Mold can grow on damp paper, leather, cloth, and wood. When powdery mold is disturbed, spores are released into the air, land, and germinate. Enzymes in the mold digest the paper and binding.Mold can leave you with a stuffy nose, scratchy throat, and itchy eyes, but for some people with mold allergies, exposure can bring on an asthma attack. People with health compromises are at an increased risk for serious infections.
Bugs, such as silverfish, roaches, and several types of beetles, feast on the proteins and starches in books. They leave holes, ragged page edges, and eggs. Rats and mice use books and other paper sources as nesting material. Droppings and urine from pests can also cause allergic reactions and may carry disease.
Please don’t pass these health hazards on to other people – or books - by donating them. You’re also putting yourself at risk by handling and transporting them. Instead, seal infested books in a plastic bag and put them in the trash. If you have books that you’d like to save, quarantine them and consult a librarian for information or referals.