How Mold Can Affect Your Health
Mold is a fungus that is present everywhere, even in the air. While the normal presence of mold spores in the air is not a substantial health risk, the accumulation of spores in a particular area can be dangerous.
There are thousands of different mold species, but there is no singular kind of mold known as “black mold” – many molds are black in appearance. But when discussed, people often refer to Stachybotrys chartarum, also known as Stachybotrys atra, as black mold.
While black mold is usually considered the most dangerous type of mold, there’s no specific evidence that supports this claim. But it is true that some people are more sensitive to specific kinds of mold spores than others, developing allergic reactions and respiratory infections with all kinds of symptoms. In sum, large quantities of mold can cause a lot of health issues, no matter what type of mold.
How Mold Can Affect Your Health
Commonly referred to as toxic mold, black mold releases mycotoxins, which are toxic substances produced by fungi. Some scientists claim that mycotoxins from black mold are linked to severe health issues of people living in contaminated buildings.
These health issues include:
- Mycotoxicosis: mold poisoning
- Aches and pains
- Memory loss
- Mood changes
There is no physical proof that inhaling these mold spores is the lead cause of these symptoms. But according to the Florida Department of Health, mold exposure can cause these health issues:
As some will be more sensitive to mold than others, if they make contact, they can experience any of the following:
- Dry cough
- Skin rashes
- Sore throat
- Watery, red eyes
- Runny or blocked nose
Severe allergies will also cause worse symptoms, like shortness of breath. It can also be worse for those with asthma, weakened respiratory systems or pre-existing lung conditions.
Infants and young children also have an increased risk of developing asthma before the age of 7 if they are exposed to mold. This was according to a study within 289 homes with 36 types of mold.
But surprisingly, black mold was not included within the three types of mold associated with asthma development. But other research by the Institute of Medicine (ION) does suggest that spending time in humid indoor spaces is related to respiratory issues, including asthma.
Mold usually isn’t an issue for people with healthy immune systems. But for those with weakened systems, such as transplant patients, cancer patients or those with uncontrolled HIV, they are at risk of developing fungal infections.
Some experts believe black mold is toxic because it releases mycotoxins, but so do all molds. Most cases of mycotoxicosis are the result of eating moldy food rather than inhaling spores in the home or outside. But there’s no evidence to suggest that touching or inhaling mold can cause mycotoxicosis.
In addition, there’s no proof that mold exposure causes lung disease, cancer or fatigue. In fact, the CDC states there are very few reports of rare or unique health conditions resulting from mold.
Common Health Issues and Those Most Affected
Any kind of mold found growing in your home or building can cause health issues, some more so than others. Long-term exposure can also lead to respiratory infections.
But those facing the highest risk of mold exposure include:
- Elderly individuals
- Those with allergies and/or asthma
- Those with weakened immune systems
- Children and infants
The most common health issues for those exposed to mold are allergies and irritation, which later lead to respiratory problems. But the individuals mentioned above also have a high risk of fungal infection.
Diagnosing a Mold Allergy
According to one’s symptoms and their medical and family histories, a doctor may diagnose a mold allergy. They can also perform tests, such as:
- Blood tests – measuring the immune system’s response to mold and to check for allergies to specific species of mold
- Skin prick test – checking for reactions to common allergens
Mold Allergy Treatment
The way a mold allergy is treated is similar to other allergy treatments, including:
- Avoiding the mold when possible
- A nasal rinse to flush out the mold spores
- Decongestant nasal sprays
- Nasal corticosteroids to reduce inflammation
- Oral decongestants to reduce congestion
- Antihistamines to stop sneezing, runny nose, and itchiness
A doctor may also suggest immunotherapy for a long-term solution, involving a series of allergy shots every few years. This can be very effective, but only for specific types of mold allergies.
The best way to avoid mold allergies is preventing it from growing in the home. Be sure to keep moisture levels to a minimum, allowing the HVAC system to run, cleaning up spills right away, repairing any leaking pipes, and keeping fans running.
There are a ton of steps that can be taken to prevent mold from growing in the home; however, this is not always easy as there are a number of potential sources throughout the home.
The best way to get away from mold is to remove it from affected surfaces. There are some home remedies that can treat mold, however, not all are effective; it depends on the type of the mold and how far it has spread.
Here are a few steps to try:
- Use hot soapy water or a mixture of 1 cup of bleach per gallon of water, scrubbing the affected surface until all residual mold is gone.
- Remove all affected materials, including insulation, carpets, and drywall
If there is extensive mold growth in the home, don’t hesitate to contact a professional. In fact, this is the best option as they will take steps to prevent cross contamination and will do so using professional products and equipment.
Mold Removal Professionals
If you have a mold problem and live in the East Central, Northwoods, South Central, or Southwest counties of Minnesota including the Twin Cities of Minneapolis & Saint Paul, don’t hesitate to contact the mold removal technicians of ServiceMaster Professional Services to help.
Identifying all problem areas and repairing the source, we will remove all mold growth using advanced products and equipment. We will also replace any soiled drywall, carpeting or flooring, restoring the area to its original condition. A containment chamber will also be set up around the affected areas to prevent cross contamination.
After removing all cases of mold and repairing the areas, we will work with your insurance during the claims process for additional peace of mind.
For a free estimate on your mold removal service, contact ServiceMaster Professional Services at 800-245-4622.