- The Long-Term Side Effects Of Mold Exposure
- From Mild to Long-Term Side Effects
- Black Mold Is Toxigenic
- Prevent Mold Growth With Routine Maintenance
- Call us 24/7 at 888-375-3267
- 10 Facts about Mold – Health Risks, Mold Prevention, Detection, Removal
- 1) Mold Requires Moisture and Organic Food to Grow
- 2) There are over 10,000 species of mold but only 5 of them are commonly found indoors
- 3) Mold develops very quickly but often remains hidden for a long time
- 4) Mold growth is a sign of water damage
- 5) Your homeowner’s insurance may exclude mold damage
- 6) Mold can cause various health problems
- 7) Mold is very difficult to get rid of
- 8) Mold growth can be prevented
- 9) Mold can be useful
- 10) Interesting facts about mold
- 8 Surprising Negative Health Effects of Mold + Prevention
- What is Mold?
- Harmful Effects of Mold
- 1) Respiratory Damage
- 2) Lower Quality of Life
- 3) Kidneys and Liver
- 4) Eye, Nose, Throat, and Skin Inflammation
- 5) Headaches and Fatigue
- 6) A Link to Autoimmunity?
- A Link to Alzheimer’s?
- Susceptibility to Fungal Infections
- Do You Suspect Mold?
- 8 Benefits of Owning a Dehumidifier :
- Allergy Triggers Thrive in Humidity
- Benefits of a Dehumidifier
- Signs You Need a Dehumidifier
- Choosing a Dehumidifier
- 8 Bad
- 8 Bad “Facts” About Mold That Everyone Thinks Are True
- Bad “Fact” 1: All Mold Is Bad
- Bad “Fact” 2: All Mold Causes Health Problems
- Bad “Fact” 3: There Should be No Mold Inside
- Bad “Fact” 4: Bleach Kills Mold
- Bad “Fact” 5: Killing Mold is Enough, I Don’t Need to Remove it
- Bad “Fact” 6: Mold is Natural, You Shouldn’t Worry About it
- Bad “Fact” 7: If You Only See a Little Mold it is Probably Nothing to Worry About
- Bad “Fact” 8: Cleaning up Mold isn’t Hard. You Should Do it Yourself
- Here is a list of helpful resources for further study
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- The Hidden Dangers Of Black Mold
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The Long-Term Side Effects Of Mold Exposure
Mold gives humanity some pleasant things, such as blue cheese and penicillin. However, exposure to mold can have negative long-term side effects on your health, causing serious infection and allergies.
Active mold growth needs moisture to thrive. Mold can develop within 24 hours when disasters strike and lead to water damage. That orange film on your kitchen drain is mold, and so is that fuzzy white stuff on your basement floor. Some people are more sensitive to mold than others. Mold can still irritate your eyes, nose, throat, lungs and skin and affect your health in the long-term.
From Mild to Long-Term Side Effects
Sensitivity to molds can cause throat irritation, coughing, wheezing, nasal stuffiness, eye irritation and skin irritation. Those with a mold allergy and who experience prolonged exposure to mold can have more severe reactions. If you have a chronic lung illness or a compromised immune system, infection due to mold exposure may affect you more seriously.
In 2004, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) linked indoor mold exposure with upper respiratory tract symptoms and illness in both adults and children. Otherwise healthy individuals coughed and wheezed. Those with asthma experienced excessive asthma symptoms. Susceptible individuals exposed to damp indoor environments had an increased risk of developing asthma.
Those with compromised immune systems were more ly to become susceptible to hypersensitivity pneumonitis. Some findings suggest that early interventions in improving housing conditions mitigate the morbidity from respiratory allergies and asthma.
Those with allergies can have more serious symptoms that make you feel you have the flu or pneumonia with chest colds, headaches, persistent exhaustion, frequent coughing, fever and difficulty breathing.
Toxic mold exposure is also connected to more serious, long-term effects insomnia, memory loss, trouble concentrating and confusion. Mold exposure contributes to depression and anxiety.
It can even lead to muscle cramps, numbness in extremities, weight gain, light sensitivity and hair loss.
Black Mold Is Toxigenic
Certain molds prove toxigenic, which means that they produce mycotoxins that cause ill health effects. A little mold is everywhere, but not all mold is “poisonous.” That doesn’t mean you should ignore mold.
Most are familiar with black mold, which is toxigenic and produces mold spores. These form colonies and grow with other spores. High concentrations of these mycotoxins can cause mold poisoning in healthy people, too.
Mold poisoning is also known as mycotoxicosis. This condition affects the upper respiratory system with harmful cold or flu- symptoms. Additional symptoms due to mycotoxins can prove fatal. That’s especially true for those with severe allergies, asthma or other conditions.
Green-black mold is also harmful. It’s found on paper, dust, lint, fiberboard and other low-nitrogen content materials. It can develop and spread after water leaks, floods and condensation.
Until you know more, treat all molds the same due to the potential long-term side effects and health risks. Take mold growth seriously. You will usually see the mold colony and smell the signature “musty” smell.
Prevent Mold Growth With Routine Maintenance
To prevent mold growth, we suggest using a dehumidifier during the warm months and providing your home or business with the proper ventilation. Use exhaust fans in bathrooms and kitchens. Clean surfaces with mold-killing products.
Keep your humidity levels below 50 percent. Humidity levels shift throughout the day. Inspecting your structure for mold growth is an important part of routine building maintenance.
Seek treatment from a doctor soon as you notice any eye irritation, skin irritation or other common symptoms after exposure to mold, especially when symptoms persist. It’s better to be safe than sorry. ECOS Environmental is happy to step in and test your home or business for mold and assist with the cleanup and renovation.
Call us 24/7 at 888-375-3267
10 Facts about Mold – Health Risks, Mold Prevention, Detection, Removal
You have certainly seen ugly mold patches in the corners of the basement. You have probably felt musty odor in the bathroom and found mold on the shower curtains. You may have heard that mold is harmful and can cause various health problems.
You surely know that it thrives in humid environments and spreads very quickly and easily.
But do you know that mold needs less than 48 hours to begin growing? Or that dead mold spores are just as harmful as live ones? Or that modern-day building practices actually promote mold growth?
Mold does not look particularly good as home decor.
There are many important facts about mold that people are not commonly aware of. Yet, knowing them can help you better protect yours and your family’s health, as well as the structural integrity and value of your home. Here is everything you need to know about mold:
1) Mold Requires Moisture and Organic Food to Grow
Mold is a kind of fungi that reproduces by making tiny spores which can survive extremely harsh weather conditions and spread easily over large areas.
Mold spores exist everywhere in the outdoor environment and can get indoors thorough open doors, windows, air ducts, vents, etc. or even attached to clothes, shoes, and bags.
Once the mold spores get into your home, they will wait for the right conditions to start developing.
The purpose of mold in the eco-system is to decompose dead organic material. Therefore, it thrives in warm, humid conditions where organic “food” is available in abundance.
Your home provides an ample food source (all kinds of organic materials, such as wood, paper, leather, fabric and upholstery, grout, paint, drywall, insulation materials, carpet, etc.
), so as soon as there is any source of moisture – flooding, leaky roofs, pipe leaks, condensation, steam from cooking and showers, etc., the mold spores will begin reproducing and spreading all over your home.
2) There are over 10,000 species of mold but only 5 of them are commonly found indoors
Most household molds belong to one of the following five types:
- Alternaria mold is usually found in buildings that have suffered some kind of water damage. It can appear black, grey, or dark brown and has a wooly or down- texture. It can cause various allergic reactions and asthma attacks;
The notorious black mold is not as common as other, less harmful types of household molds.
- Aspergillus is the most common type of household mold, especially in warmer climates. It can be grey, brown, yellow, green, white, or black in color. Aspergillus mold causes not only allergic reactions, but also respiratory infections and inflammation of the lungs in people with weak immune systems;
- Cladosporium can grow in lower temperatures than other kinds of mold. It has a characteristic black or olive-green color and may trigger hay fever and asthma symptoms;
- Penicillium is usually found on carpeting, wallpaper, and insulation. It looks blue or green and produces strong musty odor;
- Stachybotrys chartarum, also known as “black mold”, produces toxic compounds called mycotoxins that can cause severe health problems, such as respiratory problems, asthma attacks, chronic sinus infections, fatigue, and depression. The toxic black mold has a characteristic musty odor and appears only on surfaces that have been in prolonged contact with water.
3) Mold develops very quickly but often remains hidden for a long time
When all the right conditions are present – moisture, ample food, and a temperature of 41 degrees to 100 degrees Fahrenheit, mold will begin growing within 24 to 48 hours. However, it can often remain hidden until the spores have already affected large areas of your property and caused considerable structural damage.
This is so because mold usually starts growing in very inconspicuous areas of the house – inside walls, behind leaky appliances, within insulation, throughout the HVAC system, in crawl spaces, and in other damp, dark places (mold doesn’t need light to grow, which is why it is often found in poorly lit areas of the home).
Therefore, in order to prevent serious mold problems, you need to watch out for the very first signs of mold growth in your property (musty odor, deteriorating household materials, etc.) and take quick and efficient measures to fix the source of the problem and get rid of the mold spores before they have resulted in severe structural damage and health issues.
4) Mold growth is a sign of water damage
Mold cannot develop in your home unless there is some source of excessive moisture.
Unless you have experienced a recent flood or sewer backup, you may have no reason to suspect water damage to your home.
The presence of mold, however, should alert you of a hidden problem (as already mentioned, mold spores cannot develop unless there is some source of excessive moisture).
Therefore, if you detect a musty smell in the basement or attic, or see mold patches on the ceilings or walls of your home, you need to carefully inspect your property and find the source of the moisture – it may be a leaky pipe, or a leaky roof, or a malfunctioning appliance, or even poor insulation that results in too much condensation. In the best case scenario mold may be caused by inadequate air exchange and high indoor humidity levels resulting from water evaporating from home plants or drying clothes, or steam from the kitchen or bathroom.
Anyway, you need to take adequate precautionary measures in order to prevent further problems. If you leave mold untreated and don’t remove the source of excessive moisture, the spores will continue to reproduce and affect a larger area of your home, compromising its structural integrity and reducing its value.
5) Your homeowner’s insurance may exclude mold damage
The standard homeowner’s insurance policy may or may not cover mold damage, depending on the cause of the mold problem.
If mold results from a covered water loss, such as the sudden or accidental discharge or overflow of water or steam from the plumbing system or a household appliance, the cost of mold remediation will be covered under home insurance, because the reason for the claim is the covered peril, not the mold itself. Some insurance policies, however, contain exclusions, specifying that they will not cover mold removal and remediation, regardless of the source of the problem. Besides, standard insurance policies exclude flood damage and do not cover water damage as a result of neglected home maintenance – long-term roof leaks, landscaping or drainage problems, condensation, etc.
Even when mold damage is covered, there may be limitations on the coverage (most policies cap it at a certain amount). If you want to maximize your coverage, you can purchase a mold rider as an add-on to your existing insurance policy.
6) Mold can cause various health problems
It is a proven fact that prolonged exposure to mold may cause a variety of allergy symptoms and other serious health issues:
- Chronic fatigue and headaches;
- Dizziness and disorientation;
- Sneezing, runny nose, or nasal congestion;
- Itchy eyes and blurry vision;
- Coughing and respiratory problems;
- Skin irritations and rashes;
- Sinus infections and chronic sinusitis;
- Asthma and inflammation of the lungs.
Toxic black mold, in particular, may have very serious long-term health effects. It produces mycotoxins that can cause a number of circulatory symptoms and vascular problems when inhaled – irregular heartbeat, heart inflammation, low blood pressure, internal or external hemorrhaging, etc.
The health effects of mold can vary from mild allergic symptoms to severe respiratory problems.
The effects of mold exposure can vary considerably from one person to the next (with young children, pregnant women, elderly people, and individuals with chronic diseases and weaker immune systems being most at risk), but according to recent studies 1 in every 4 people has genetic pre-disposition to mold illness – the so called Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome (CIRS).
7) Mold is very difficult to get rid of
Mold is often found in areas that are difficult to reach and remediate. It spreads very quickly and affects not only building materials, but also furniture pieces, fabrics, books, and other personal possessions. The spores grow within the porous materials, so the only way to remove mold completely is to replace the affected items.
What’s more, most DIY mold removal methods provide only a temporary solution to the problem: household cleaners are not strong enough to eliminate the fungi and paints only hide the problem.
Bleach kills the spores but dead spores can be just as harmful as the living ones – some mold species are toxic in both a live form and a dead form, others may stay dormant for a long time until the right conditions appear to allow them to grow again, etc.
Mold removal and remediation is better left to the specialists.
The only sure way to get rid of mold for good is to use professional mold remediation services.
The experienced mold removal specialists will discover all the mold (visible, hidden, dormant) in your property, will use advanced equipment and powerful cleaning agents to remove the spores, repair any related damage, disinfect the contaminated area, and purify the air. Your home will be completely mold-free, fresh, and safe.
8) Mold growth can be prevented
In modern times, mold has become a very common and serious issue.
It is mainly due to the fact that building practices nowadays actually promote mold development – building materials are very porous and susceptible to mold growth; homes are built to be energy efficient, so they are air-tight and lack proper ventilation; water pipes run throughout the home hidden inside walls and insulation, etc. This makes mold prevention quite a difficult task. Yet, there are some efficient precautionary measures you can take to inhibit mold growth in your home:
- Ensuring good air circulation – keeping windows open, running bathroom fans, keeping air ducts clean and in good condition – can help reduce the risk of mold growth;
- Keeping indoor humidity levels below 45 percent can inhibit mold growth;
- Keeping your property in good repair (roofs and foundations, plumbing system, HVAC system) can prevent excessive moisture from entering your home and causing mold growth;
- Inspecting your property at regular intervals (and especially after major storms, torrential rains, snow meltdown, etc.) can help detect mold growth in its early stages and prevent it from spreading any further;
- Adding mold-inhibitors to paints before application can reduce the potential for mold growth;
- Removing already affected materials can help prevent mold spores from contaminating other items.
If you keep your home moisture-free and properly ventilated, you have every chance to prevent mold formation and mold-related problems.
Did you know that penicillin is actually a purified mold?
9) Mold can be useful
Mold is not necessarily bad. It plays an essential role in the ecosystem – it breaks down dead organic matter, such as dead leaves, trees, etc., and recycles it into the environment. Certain species of mold are commonly used as fermenting agents, others are engineered to make delicacy cheeses. Mold is even used in drug production – the antibiotic penicillin is a purified mold!
10) Interesting facts about mold
- Mold is used in biological warfare;
- Christmas trees can be a source of mold spores;
- Mildew is a type of mold that remains on the surface of the affected materials;
- Each year mold destroys more wood than all the fires and termites combined;
- The World Health Organization acknowledges that mold is a health hazard;
- The cost of repairing mold problems in homes around the United States is approximately 73 billion dollars per year.
Mold facts can be shocking, indeed. What matters most is learning all you can about mold to help you better handle mold issues in your home.
8 Surprising Negative Health Effects of Mold + Prevention
Mold exposure has been linked to headaches, allergies, irritation, and all kinds of other health problems. Learn more about the negative effects of mold here.
What is Mold?
Molds are fungi. They can grow inside houses or other buildings, and some researchers and doctors believe that exposure to mold can cause health problems. The harmful effects of mold can be caused by exposure to mold directly, mold odor, mold byproducts, or dampness.
Harmful Effects of Mold
Headaches, fatigue, allergies or other unexplained symptoms are sometimes associated with the amount of time spent in a specific building or room. Some call this “Sick Building Syndrome,” and some researchers have attributed it to mold exposure [1, 2].
1) Respiratory Damage
Breathing mold or mold-derived byproducts into your lungs can be harmful in a variety of ways.
A meta-analysis showed that building dampness and mold increase the incidence of respiratory infections and asthma by 30 – 50% .
A similar study on residential home dampness and mold showed an 8 – 20% increase in the incidence of respiratory infections and bronchitis .
In children, exposure to indoor mold was associated with up to 50% more coughing. Moreover, stronger effects were seen for asthma in more crowded households .
A study on infants showed lung iron overload and lung bleeding disorders were significantly more abundant if they lived in homes with higher levels of fungi in the air and surfaces .
In buildings with water damage, respiratory illness was significantly associated with the presence of fungi and fungal metabolites .
Mold odor at home or work was associated with reduced lung function, especially in women .
Exposure to dampness and mold is associated with a significantly increased incidence of asthma [9, 10].
Asthmatic children living in mold-contaminated homes had a higher proportion of blood neutrophils compared to people who were not exposed to mold .
In patients with asthma, exposure to mold odor is associated with significantly reduced lung function .
In people who are allergic to mold, asthma is more common and much more severe .
2) Lower Quality of Life
The presence of visible mold in the home was associated with a worse quality of life, as measured by taking more sick days – both physical and mental .
Also, in patients with asthma, exposure to workplace dampness and mold was associated with a reduced quality of life .
3) Kidneys and Liver
Mold produces toxic byproducts including aflatoxin, ochratoxin, orellanine, and zearalenone.
- Orellanine is capable of inducing serious kidney harm to the point of kidney failure in humans and animals [15, 16].
- Aflatoxins, ochratoxins, and zearalenone have been identified as potential cancer-causing agents [17, 18, 19].
- Aflatoxins and zearalenone may cause liver damage [19, 20].
- Ochratoxins can strain the kidneys and the immune system .
4) Eye, Nose, Throat, and Skin Inflammation
A questionnaire study was performed with 36,541 randomized parents. It found that moldy homes were associated with inflammation in the eyes, nose, throat, and skin .
A study was done measuring reported symptoms and indoor air quality by teachers in New York State .
Reported mold or mold odors were associated with a 70% increase in reporting one of the following symptoms :
- Sinus problems
- Throat irritation
In another school study, mold or water damage was associated with respiratory infections, eye irritation, nasal congestion, and sore throat .
5) Headaches and Fatigue
In a questionnaire study of 36,541 parents, moldy homes were associated with headache and fatigue in the people who lived in them .
6) A Link to Autoimmunity?
In one study with 209 people, abnormally high levels of antibodies were found (ANA and antibodies against myelin) in people exposed to mold. The researchers who made this observation argued that mold may, therefore, be associated with lupus and multiple sclerosis . However, this study had poor design and selection bias.
One Swedish study of 7500 participants found that people were up to twice as ly to have eczema in buildings with mold odor, condensation, and high humidity .
Another American study of 8400 people also found that people were close to twice as ly to have eczema in building with a musty odor .
Saccharomyces cerevisiae is a common species of yeast sometimes called baker’s or brewer’s yeast. While not a mold, it is a fungus. One study argues that S. cerevisiae presents the closest evidence we have linking fungi to autoimmune disease .
A growing number of studies have detected high levels of anti-S. cerevisiae autoantibodies (ASCAs) mainly in patients with Crohn’s, but also antiphospholipid syndrome, systemic lupus erythematosus, type 1 diabetes mellitus, and rheumatoid arthritis .
Antibodies against S. cerevisiae were found in 60–70% of patients with Crohn’s disease, and 10-15% in ulcerative colitis compared to 0-5% in healthy people .
Some researchers believe that a protein in yeast is similar to proteins in our body, and the immune system can get “confused” and start attacking its own, similar proteins .
A Link to Alzheimer’s?
One study laid out 7 case reports of people who had Alzheimer’s or Alzheimer’s- symptoms, which they believed may have been associated with various strains of mold found in their houses .
However, there is no well-documented link between Alzheimer’s disease and mold. This is simply the early speculation of a single author.
Susceptibility to Fungal Infections
Exposure to fungi or spores can lead to systemic fungal infection, also known as mycosis .
This is more common in people with compromised immune systems, for example, systemic lupus erythematosus, who are more ly to get certain fungi infections .
One study showed an increased incidence of mycosis in alcoholic liver disease patients, which was further associated with increased mortality .
The use of antibiotics, pregnancy, diabetes, and HIV/AIDSare linked to vaginal yeast infections, whereas clothing and personal hygiene do not appear to have an effect .
Both athlete’s foot and toenail fungus are more prevalent with increasing age, male gender, and type 2 diabetes .
If your home or office has taken on water or flooded, remediation should be rapid and complete. Everything should be thoroughly dried and may need to be removed if mold is already present . Mold can develop within 48 hours of taking on water .
When in doubt, call a professional cleaning service. If you believe that mold exposure has caused health problems for you or someone close to you, seek medical attention.
Do You Suspect Mold?
It’s very hard to pinpoint whether a certain health issue started as a result of mold or another underlying factor or health condition. There are other possibilities, such as air pollution, VOCs, carbon dioxide, environmental chemicals, radon, tobacco smoke, and airborne infections that could also cause someone to be sick.
If you suspect that mold plays a role in your health issues, talk to your doctor about this possibility. They will help you rule out other underlying factors and identify whether mold is the culprit.
8 Benefits of Owning a Dehumidifier :
If you commonly get allergies, you know that they can get rather miserable at times. When you live in a humid climate, there are many triggers for these things—dust mites, mold, mildew, and seasonal allergies. If you find that you are suffering a lot, a good dehumidifier can help–in more ways than one. Here are some benefits of a dehumidifier and how to choose the right one for you.
Allergy Triggers Thrive in Humidity
Many of the most common allergy triggers, especially dust mites, mold, and mildew, thrive in humid environments.
Whether you live in a humid climate, or you just have a living space that tends to be more humid, you may be suffering from these things.
Small living spaces with limited ventilation, such as bathrooms or kitchens in a small apartment or basement apartments, are common areas where moisture can build up, even in dry climates.
Some of the most common reactions to allergy triggers include:
- Stuffy nose
- Itchy, watery eyes
- Sneezing, wheezing, or difficulty breathing
- Skin rashes and other irritation
Mold allergies are also a significant contributor to childhood asthma, which can be a debilitating and costly disease for children who develop it at a young age. This article expands on some of the dangers that allergens present when they are in your home.
Benefits of a Dehumidifier
There are several benefits to getting a dehumidifier in your home, basement, apartment, or office space.
- Dehumidifiers reduce humidity levels, making your home less hospitable to allergens such as dust mites, mold, and mildew.
- They are not disruptive to your daily life, and run quietly and efficiently in the background without most people even noticing.
- Dehumidifiers help reduce odors that can accompany mold and mildew in your home—getting rid of that “musty” or “rotting” smell.
- These devices help to reduce the possibility that you will develop mold on your clothing, furniture, and other linens (such as curtains or bed sheets).
- Dehumidifiers reduce irritation to your skin and your respiratory system, allowing you to breathe easier and feel comfortable in your home.
- A less humid environment in your home means clothing will dry faster, breads and cereals will remain fresh longer without getting stale, and you won’t find signs of rust or corrosion on things computer equipment, electronics, and tools.
- Running a dehumidifier helps reduce dust in your home, so you won’t have to clean as often.
- A dehumidifier also lowers energy costs because it helps your air conditioner run more efficiently. When the air in your home is more humid, the A/C must do the function of cooling the air and removing moisture, which means it has to work harder. This also causes your A/C to wear out sooner, which means you will need to replace and repair it more often.
Signs You Need a Dehumidifier
In addition to suffering from constant symptoms of allergies, you may want to consider a dehumidifier if you have some obvious signs of high humidity in certain rooms or areas of your home, including:
- Water stains on the walls or ceilings of your home
- High humidity rooms with poor ventilation or no ventilation (especially in areas bathrooms that have no windows)
- Frequent condensation on the windows in certain areas of your home
- Small black spots (mold spores) growing on the walls or in areas with high humidity, such as the bathtub or shower
- Must or mildew smells
You may also want to consider a dehumidifier if you live in an apartment building, since mold and mildew spores can travel through ventilation systems, and can build up in the walls between apartments. Even if you keep your living area clean, these allergens from other areas of the building can be harmful to yours and your family’s health.
Choosing a Dehumidifier
There are several different options when it comes to dehumidifiers, and the one you choose depends on the space in which you plan to use it, as well as the humidity levels.
There are small capacity models for a single small room, large capacity models for larger areas such as a large room, basement, or an apartment, and there are whole-house models available as well if you live in a very humid climate, you suffer from significant allergies, or you have a large home. For more specific and unique needs, consider purchasing a dehumidifier with special features.
Getting a dehumidifier can help you live a healthier, happier life, so if you are suffering from allergies and other symptoms, the answer to the question of whether you should own a dehumidifier is probably yes. Find out more about the different models and options available, and see which one will fit your budget and help you get clean, healthy air in your home.
Photo courtesy of Luigi Chiesa
Which one doesn’t fit with the rest?
1. Mold is big.2. Mold is bad.3. Mold is scary.
4. Mold is common.
Mold is common. It really is. Let us help you navigate your way through this whole mold thing.
When it comes to mold there is a lot of misinformation floating around out there. Mention the word “mold” and people will flee in panic. In reality, mold can be a serious problem, but with a little common sense and the right information, you can learn to discern myth from fact and make wise decisions in your dealings with mold.
8 Bad “Facts” About Mold That Everyone Thinks Are True
With all the misinformation about mold out there, it is easy to overreact. Here are four “facts” that are overreactions to mold.
Bad “Fact” 1: All Mold Is Bad
Nope! Have you ever eaten blue cheese or take penicillin? Mold is used in the making this kind of cheese and medicine.
Bad “Fact” 2: All Mold Causes Health Problems
While mold certainly can cause health problems it is not true that all molds cause health problems in all people. In reality, the effect of mold on people varies greatly. Molds produce allergens, and while some people will be allergic to the allergens produced by mold not everyone will react to mold, and the effects can be varied depending on ones’ sensitivity to mold
People who are highly sensitive to mold may develop allergic reactions and show symptoms such as difficulty breathing, bloody noses, itchy and watery eyes, etc. People with already compromised immune symptoms are also at risk for reacting to mold, and some studies have suggested that serious health effects can arise from repeated exposure to mold, so it is not something to play around with.
Bad “Fact” 3: There Should be No Mold Inside
In reality mold is all around us and is very natural.
There are mold spores in the air you are breathing and there is really no way around this unless you decide to live inside a plastic, environmentally controlled bubble.
The problem is not that there is mold indoors the problem is with the concentration of mold indoors. Mold should not be growing in your walls or on surfaces as that can be a problem and contribute to allergic reactions.
We will always live with mold, the question is how much mold should we live with? The answer to that is still being worked out. As mold affects people differently you should talk to your doctor if you think you are suffering from exposure to mold and you take steps to reduce your exposure to mold. Hiring a professional mold remediation company ServiceMaster of Kalamazoo is a good option.
Bad “Fact” 4: Bleach Kills Mold
This is kind of a half truth. Bleach may kill certain kinds of mold on non-porous surfaces, however, it is not clear that bleach can kill all kinds of mold nor kill mold on porous surfaces such as wood.
Research is continuing to be done on the effectiveness of bleach as a mold cleanup agent. It should be noted that using bleach to “kill” mold poses its own health risks and is not a recommended solution by EPA or OSHA.
Bleach is also very corrosive and can cause further damage if not used correctly.
Bad “Fact” 5: Killing Mold is Enough, I Don’t Need to Remove it
Killing mold is not enough. Putting aside the conflicting reports on what kills mold, simply killing mold does not remove the health effects as the allergens are still present even in dead mold.
To properly protect against health effects, removal of the affected areas is often necessary. Care must be taken when removing the affected areas so that the allergens and mold is not spread throughout the house.
That is why professional mold remediation services are often necessary to properly fix a mold problem.
Bad “Fact” 6: Mold is Natural, You Shouldn’t Worry About it
While mold may be natural, consistent exposure to mold can have negative affects on ones health. If mold is growing in your home or place of business it needs to be addressed as it will deteriorate your building and can cause health problems.
Bad “Fact” 7: If You Only See a Little Mold it is Probably Nothing to Worry About
If mold is to the point where it is visibly growing on surfaces in your home you have a problem. Mold is an iceberg, you generally only see the tip of it while the majority is below the surface. If you see a little bit of mold you most ly have more growing under the surface site.
Bad “Fact” 8: Cleaning up Mold isn’t Hard. You Should Do it Yourself
This is another half truth. While you may be able to clean up certain kinds of mold in small quantities most people are not equipped to do proper mold remediation. Simply wiping down the evidence is not good enough.
To properly “cleanup” a mold problem you must identify the cause, isolate the area to keep the mold from spreading, and clean and or remove the affected surfaces.
Unless you know how to setup a containment unit, have a couple of commercial sized HEPA air filtration units, protective gear, HEPA vacuums, specialized cleaning agents, and can do a wet extraction to keep mold spores from spreading, you should probably call a professional mold remediation company.
Here is a list of helpful resources for further study
Is mold making you sick?
Mold is one word that can send homeowners into a panic, especially as we wind down from a summer of record-high temperatures and humidity.
But what really is the dreaded intruder, and could it be the blame for those unexpected summer illnesses?
“Molds are naturally-occurring fungal growths,” said Jonathan Spahr, M.D., director of pediatric pulmonary at Geisinger.
“They can be found anywhere moisture and oxygen are present, but tend to seek out warmer climates or decaying matter to feed on to accelerate growth. This makes our homes a great target in the summer.”
Mold growth speeds up when it’s indoors. Mold’s tiny reproductive cells, called spores, are easily released into the air, and an enclosed space amplifies their ability to make contact with one another. There are hundreds of species of mold. Some of those species are less dangerous, penicillin, which has antibacterial properties and is used in antibiotic medication. But others could make you sick.
“Though small amounts of mold probably won’t hurt us, there is no species of mold that is ‘safe’ when inhaled. Those tiny spores could cause a host of health problems; mostly in people with respiratory problems, allergies or a compromised immune system” said Dr. Spahr.
Symptoms of mold exposure may include headache, sore throat, runny nose, coughing, sneezing, watery eyes and fatigue. In those with asthma, asthma attacks can occur. In those with impaired immune systems, serious infection can occur.
Here are the ways you can prevent the spread of mold, and what you can do to get rid of it.
- Keep an eye out for hidden leaks: Wet spots on your ceiling, at baseboards or on the floor are a telltale sign of a leaky pipe or roof. Your home’s pipes are behind drywall, which can leave a small leak unnoticed for a long time. Mold can grow behind those walls and filter into the air through ducts or pipes. A plumber or contractor can help identify weak spots or possible leaks and prevent mold growth.
- Keep your air conditioner clean: Many air conditioners, especially window units, are susceptible to mold growth. They often trap moisture, creating a breeding ground for the spores. Choosing a unit with humidity control can prevent moisture build-up. Leaving the device running at a low or “automatic” level during the day will keep air circulating and prevent a serious rise in humidity. You should also replace filters every three months, or as recommended. “Your home should always maintain less than 60 percent humidity in order to stop mold production,” said Dr. Spahr. Finally, keeping ducts free of dirt and dust also eliminates the organic matter on which mold can feed.
- Ventilate heat-prone rooms: Bathrooms, kitchens and laundry rooms create a lot of excess heat and humidity, whether it be from the shower, stove or dryer. All three of these rooms should be well ventilated to prevent the lingering moisture that attracts mold.
How to get rid of moldMold spores can lay dormant for years after they are produced and could begin growing at any time, leaving allergens active for long periods.
Because of this, regular cleaning with agents that kill mold or professional mold remediation is always ideal.
Mold remediation begins by identifying the source of the moisture and making any necessary repairs, then removing all of the porous material in a room to be replaced with sanitized material.
All non-porous surfaces need to be thoroughly cleaned with an anti-fungal detergent and thoroughly dried before porous materials drywall or carpeting can be reinstalled.
Occupants can reenter the building after the infected spaces pass a visual or environmental test and there are no remaining signs of potential mold-causing water damage.
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