Common Health Effects Associated with Mold
How Mold in Your Home Can Affect Your Health
Mold is necessary in the natural environment, eating away at decaying organic matter, like dead trees and fallen leaves. But indoors, mold spores can be dangerous to the health of a home’s occupants. Here’s how mold in the home can adversely affect physical health.
A naturally pervasive fungi, mold grows indoors and outdoors. Mold infestations inside a home indicate that a moisture problem exists. Spores flock to areas where a constant moisture supply is present, which may be caused by a leaky pipe, high humidity levels, or water damage of other types.
Mold colonies rapidly infest areas where moisture, organic materials, and darkness persist. This means mold can grow on shower tiles in the bathroom, in dark recesses in a damp basement, or under carpeting after the window has been left open during a rain shower.
Three types of molds commonly invade the indoors. Cladosporium primarily grows on wood, carpets, and fabrics. Penicillium is found where water damage occurs, such as in basements and insulation. Aspergillus requires little ventilation and appears on walls, in attics, and on dry food items.
Even as microscopic organisms, mold spores can wreak tremendous physical damage. Mold that grows on wooden building structures eat away at the porous materials and compromise the building’s structural integrity. Over time, a moldy building can become a safety hazard.
In addition to causing physical damage, mold can trigger a range of health symptoms in people who breathe in the spores. Even touching surfaces upon which mold has grown can introduce ill health symptoms in susceptible people, especially those who are sensitive to mold.
Prolonged exposure to mold can cause cold-like symptoms (also described as allergy-like symptoms). Runny nose and congestion, sneezing, coughing, and sore throat are common. Mold can also cause headaches, skin rashes, lung irritation, and wheezing in people who touch or inhale the spores.
For most individuals, mold exposure is not a life-threatening concern. However, certain health conditions can put some people at a greater risk for complications; in these cases, it is important that vulnerable people who experience mold-related symptoms notify their physician.
While the abovementioned cold-like symptoms can develop in people with known mold allergies, even people without allergies can become irritated. The Centers for Disease Control reports that simply touching mold spores can cause an individual to become allergic to mold.
Asthma is a lung disease that causes airways to become inflamed or constricted when exposed to irritants. People with asthma experience symptoms, such as wheezing, shortness of breath, chest tightness, and cough. Symptoms appear after exposure to substances to which a person is allergic.
People who suffer from asthma have a greater risk for an asthma attack upon being exposed to mold in the home. In fact, mold spores are known to trigger asthma attacks. While staying in a home ridden with mold, the asthma sufferer will require an inhaler to manage asthma symptoms.
School aged children have a greater risk factor for developing asthma when they spend significant time in a home with high levels of mold. Researchers believe that due to the fact that children do not yet have a fully developed respiratory system, they are more susceptible to developing the condition.
Asthma sufferers can combat their symptoms by removing themselves from a home contaminated with mold. Especially when asthma symptoms develop after being inside a moldy home, it is advised that the mold be removed. Medical treatment is also recommended to improve symptoms.
Breathing in mold spores does not always cause severe health complications. However, individuals with certain health conditions may have a higher risk for lung infections or other types of infections when they inhale the spores from certain types of molds.
Examples of health conditions that can predispose a person to higher risk of illness after mold exposure include chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), sarcoidosis, asthma, cystic fibrosis, tuberculosis, and a compromised immune system (ie, individuals who have HIV or take corticosteroids).
Susceptible individuals with the abovementioned health conditions may develop mold-related infections, such as aspergillosis, histoplasmosis, sporotrichosis or valley fever (also known as coccidioidomycosis). Serious or superficial fungal infections can result when allergic reactions are left untreated. Infections can develop even in healthy people.
Address Mold Promptly
Mold is not only a nuisance, but a danger to health. Homeowners are urged to eliminate the spores right away. Minor cases of mold can be scrubbed away with commercial products, soap and water, or a bleach solution of no more than one cup bleach per gallon of water.
Extensive cases of mold should be removed by professionals, especially if the mold grows in inaccessible areas. Professional mold remediation is also advised when severe water damage has occurred within the property. People at high risk of symptoms upon mold exposure should seek mold cleanup experts.
Mold will thrive in areas that have sustained water damage. When you need qualified mold removal services, make sure to contact a trusted professional. Experienced technicians will arrive at your home right away, assess the extent of mold growth, and prepare a mold remediation plan.
Professional mold removal services start with testing the air for mold. Using high-tech equipment, they identify all traces of hidden and visible mold. Mold can be sneaky, growing behind walls, under carpets and beneath wallpaper. Visible mold can be identified by its dark splotches and musty odor.
Mold technicians perform HEPA vacuuming as a part of their efficient mold removal process. Materials damaged by mold spores are restored or repaired. They also pinpoint the source of water damage and repair it—mold cannot survive without a constant supply of moisture.