What is Mold? Can it affect my family’s health?
Mold is a fungal growth that forms and spreads in the natural environment. There are many different mold species that come in many different colors. Also referred to as mildew, they are found both indoors and outdoors in all climates, during all seasons of the year.
Molds produce microscopic cells called “spores” that are spread easily through the air. Spores can also be spread by water and insects. Live spores act like seeds, forming new mold colonies when they find the right conditions.
Outdoors, molds survive by using plants and decaying organic matter such as fallen leaves as a source of nutrition. Indoors, molds need moisture and a carbon source from building materials or building contents to grow.
Excess moisture is generally the cause of indoor mold growth. Controlling moisture is the key to stopping indoor mold growth, because all molds require water to grow. Moisture can come from:
The process of mold remediation involves removing mold to a level that is safe for your health and your premise.
The presence of mold in the air is normal. Although, one should not let mold grow and multiply indoors. When this happens, your level of exposure can increase, thereby increasing the risk of potential health problems. Building materials, household goods and furnishings may also be damaged. Mold needs to eat to survive, and it’s perfectly happy eating your home if you allow it.
There are four kinds of health problems that come from exposure to mold: allergic illness, irritant effects, infection, and toxic effects. For people that are sensitive to molds, symptoms such as nasal and sinus irritation or congestion, dry hacking cough, wheezing, skin rashes or burning, watery or reddened eyes may occur. People with severe allergies to molds may have more serious reactions, such as hay-fever-like symptoms or shortness of breath. People with chronic illnesses or people with immune system problems may be more likely to get infections from certain molds, viruses, and bacteria. Molds can also trigger asthma attacks in persons with asthma. Headaches, memory problems, mood swings, nosebleeds and body aches and pains are sometimes reported in mold complaints, but the causes of these physical symptoms are not yet understood. The toxic effects of certain molds are not well understood and are currently a controversial topic in the medical and scientific community.
Indoor mold growth can usually be seen or smelled. Some types of molds can produce chemicals called “mycotoxins”. These molds are common and are sometimes referred to as “toxic mold”. There are very few reports that “toxic molds” inside homes can cause unique or rare health conditions. If you think you have a mold problem in your home, you do not need to find out what type of mold you may have. All molds should be treated the same when it comes to health risks and removal. All indoor mold growth should be removed promptly, no matter what type(s) of mold is present, or whether it can produce mycotoxins.
Mold should be cleaned as soon as it appears. It should be done by Restoration professionals well trained in order to prevent further exposure and guarantee an adequate cleanup.
Additional information is available in the US Environmental Protection’s guidance:
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