Mold In My House – How Big of a Health Problem Is It?
Article by David Selter
The EPA states that all molds have the potential to cause negative health effects. Their review of available evidence leads them to conclude that there is a wide range of respiratory health effects, including asthma, respiratory infections, upper respiratory tract symptoms, cough, wheeze, and dyspnea associated with prolonged mold exposure. Dyspnea is a term for difficult or labored breathing. The longer the exposure to a moldy environment, the higher the frequency and severity of the occurrences. Mold remediation, including mold cleanup and the elimination of the source of excess moisture, is the key to eliminating dangerous levels of mold in homes and commercial buildings. How do you know if you have a mold problem? Large mold infestations can usually be seen or smelled even though the mold damage to the structure may be hidden. A professional mold inspection should reveal mold that is not visible.
Other mold related health warnings from the Mayo Clinic include:
- Mold-induced asthma. In people allergic to mold, breathing in spores can trigger an asthma flare-up. If you have a mold allergy and asthma, be sure you have an emergency plan in place in case of a severe asthma attack.
- Allergic fungal sinusitis. This results from an inflammatory reaction to fungus in the sinuses.
- Allergic bronchopulmonary aspergillosis. This reaction to fungus in the lungs can occur in people with asthma or cystic fibrosis.
- Hypersensitivity pneumonitis. This rare condition occurs when exposure to airborne particles such as mold spores causes the lungs to become inflamed.
- Besides allergens, mold may pose other health risks to susceptible people. For example, mold may cause infections of the skin or mucous membranes.
So how does mold get into your house? The EPA states that mold spores may enter your house from the outside through open doorways, windows, and heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems with outdoor air intakes. Spores in the air outside also attach themselves to people and animals, making clothing, shoes, bags, and pets convenient vehicles for carrying mold indoors. When mold spores drop on places where there is excessive moisture, such as where leakage may have occurred in roofs, pipes, walls, plant pots, or where there has been flooding, they will grow. Also, relative humidity of 60% or higher will cause moisture to condense on surfaces throughout your home, providing the moisture that mold needs to grow. Many building materials provide suitable nutrients that encourage mold to grow. Wet cellulose materials, including paper and paper products, cardboard, ceiling tiles, wood, and wood products, are particularly conducive for the growth of some molds. Other materials such as dust, paints, wallpaper, insulation materials, drywall, carpet, fabric, and upholstery, commonly support mold growth.
In conclusion, there is no way to prevent mold spores from entering your home, especially in humid climates. The key to preventing mold problems in your home is to eliminate the sources of moisture that allow mold to grow and become a problem.