Is Mold Making You Sick?

Molds are various types of fungi that grow in filaments and reproduce by forming spores. The term mildew is sometimes used to refer to some kinds of mold, particularly mold in the home with a white or grayish color or mold growing in shower stalls and bathrooms. Mold may grow indoors or outdoors and thrives in damp, warm and humid environments. Mold can be found in essentially any environment or season. The most common types of indoor household molds include Cladosporium, Penicillium, Alternaria and Aspergillus. Stachybotryschartarum (also known as Stachybotrys atra and sometimes referred to as “black mold”) is a greenish-black mold that can also be found indoors. Although, it is less common than the other types of mold found in homes. Stachybotrys grows on household surfaces that have high cellulose content, such as wood, fiberboard, gypsum board, paper, dust and lint. There are types of mold that can grow on substances as different as foods and carpet.

Molds produce irritating substances that may act as allergy-causing substances (allergens) in sensitive indiviuals. Furthermore, some molds produce toxic substances known as mycotoxins, but mold itself is not poisonous or toxic. The conditions under which some molds produce toxins are poorly understood, and the presence of mold, even a mold that is capable of producing toxins, does not always imply that toxins are being produced. Mold may not cause any health effects, or it may lead to symptoms in people, including adults and children, who are sensitive to molds. Allergic reactions to mold are the most common health effects of mold. Allergic reactions may happen immediately or develop after a period of time following exposure. Both growing mold and mold spores may lead to allergic reactions. Allergy symptoms include:

  • sneezing
  • runny nose
  • coughing
  • wheezing
  • water eyes
  • redness of the eyes
  • itchy eyes
  • skin irritaion or rash

Sometimes people may develop severe reactions to mold exposure. Symptoms of severe reactions, which are uncommon, include fever and difficulty breathing. People with compromised immune systems or those with chronic lung disease can develop serious infections of the lungs due to molds. It is not possible to predict the degree of severity of the health risks associated with mold in the home. Allergic individuals vary in their degree of susceptibility to mold, and the risk may also depend upon the extent and exact type of mold that is present.

Studies suggest that chronic sinusitis is caused from exposure to fungus and mold spores. Chronic sinusitis patients should try to limit their exposure to mold spores, which can be a challenge when you are outside. Pay attention to the weather, particularly air quality alerts that report high levels of spores and pollen, and limit outdoor activities. With respect to your home environment, you have greater control, meaning you want to ensure that your indoor air quality is optimal for long term health, particularly since the likely cause of chronic sinusitis is mold. Here are some tips:

  • Maintain healthy humidity levels, 30 – 50%, to minimize moisture and prevent mold growth.
  • If you have mold, ensure that the root cause of the problem (ie. the moisture source) is first fixed, and then hire a professional to remove the mold.
  • Ensure that your HVAC system is functioning properly and circulating clean, healthy air. Yearly maintenance and inspection by a professional is highly recommended.

If you suffer from asthma, sinusitis or other respiratory ailments, call a professional mold inspector to determine if you have a mold problem. If you do, the short term cost to remove the mold will be minor compared to the long term health benefits you will gain.

Sources: http://www.medicinenet.com/mold-exposure/page2.htm. http://mszrestoration.stfi.re/is-your-sinus-infection-caused-by-mold/?sf=vzggj&utm_content=buffer9bb01&utm_medium=social&utm_source=facebook.com&utm_campaign=buffer