In this post I will explain the effects that toxic mold has on the health of the occupants of a building where mold is present. Whether it’s in a home or commercial environment, exposure to mold can definitely cause illness and allergic reactions to individuals who are especially sensitive to it.
What Is Mold?
Mold is a type of fungus; a substance that exists in virtually every environment throughout the year, no matter where you are located. Mold spores are a common component of household and workplace dust.. However, the active growth of mold can only occur when moisture is present.
The mold doesn’t necessarily need to be visible to be harmful; it can exist behind drywall, under carpets and other places where water has seeped through and moisture remained. If you’ve had flooding or other types of water damage, it’s a good idea to check for lingering water and moisture before the mold begins to form.
Mildew is one type of mold. It is normally white or grayish in color, which sometimes appears in showers and bathrooms. The most toxic and damaging types of mold include Stachybotrys chartarum (“black mold”) and Aspergillus. These can cause health issues ranging in severity from mild to serious.
Symptoms of Exposure to Toxic Mold
Studies have shown that up to 40 percent of American schools and 25 percent of homes have mold infestation. Mycotoxins (the toxins harmful molds produce) can actually travel to your brain through your nose and eyes.
The symptoms and health effects of black mold exposure and black mold poisoning cover a wide range of health problems, but understanding the indicators can help keep you and your family safe. Some of the symptoms most common in those who have been affected by toxic mold can be:
- Fatigue and weakness
- Headache, light sensitivity
- Poor memory, difficult word finding
- Difficulty concentration
- Morning stiffness, joint pain
- Upper respiratory tract symptoms
- Unusual skin sensations, tingling and numbness
- Shortness of breath, sinus congestion or chronic cough
- Appetite swings
- Lack of body temperature regulation
- Increased urinary frequency or increased thirst
- Red eyes, blurred vision, sweats, mood swings, sharp pains
- Abdominal pain, diarrhea, bloating
- Tearing, disorientation, metallic taste in mouth
- Static shocks
- Vertigo and lightheadedness
Some of the more neurotoxic molds can cause central nervous system effects, such as cognitive and behavioral changes, ataxia, and convulsions. Cancer and lung infections have even been linked to mold exposure.
Is Everyone Affected by Mold?
Some people are more prone to symptoms resulting from mold than others. Some may have more sensitivity, causing allergic reactions like nasal stuffiness, throat irritation, coughing or wheezing, eye irritation or skin irritation. Individuals with autoimmune diseases or those with chronic lung disease can get serious infections upon exposure to toxic mold.
Mold is particularly dangerous for infants and children. There is evidence that some cases of SIDS may be related to toxic mold exposure.
How to Prevent Mold Growth
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there are some steps you can take to control and prevent mold growth.
- Keep humidity levels as low as you can—no higher than 50%–all day long. An air conditioner or dehumidifier will help you keep the level low. Bear in mind that humidity levels change over the course of a day with changes in the moisture in the air and the air temperature, so you will need to check the humidity levels more than once a day.
- Be sure your home has enough ventilation. Use exhaust fans which vent outside your home in the kitchen and bathroom. Make sure your clothes dryer vents outside your home.
- Fix any leaks in your home’s roof, walls, or plumbing so mold does not have moisture to grow.
- Clean up and dry out your home thoroughly and quickly (within 24–48 hours) after flooding.
- Add mold inhibitors to paints before painting.
- Clean bathrooms with mold-killing products.
- Remove or replace carpets and upholstery that have been soaked and cannot be dried promptly. Consider not using carpet in rooms or areas like bathrooms or basements that may have a lot of moisture.
How to Get Rid of Mold
There are some things you can do yourself to clean up the mold, but you will need to be very cautious. It’s recommended you wear protective clothing to avoid contact with the mold and breathing in the spores. Extreme care should be taken to prevent spreading the mold even further.
According to the CDC’s guide to Mold, Moisture and Your Home, if there is extensive water damage, or the mold growth covers any area of more than 10 square feet, you should call in a professional to get rid of the mold effectively. The guide also provides some guidelines on hiring a contractor for this purpose.
St. Louis Cleaning and Restoration are the Mold Remediation Experts
St. Louis Cleaning and Restoration has been in the mold remediation business for over 20 years, serving the St. Louis area.
All of our technicians are experienced and knowledgeable in the mold remediation and removal process. We use special equipment like moisture meters and fiber optics that allow us to find hot spots where mold is most likely growing and look into hidden areas such as behind walls. This way we can find any and all hidden mold while barely disturbing your home.
If you suspect mold is growing in your home or business, call St. Louis Cleaning and Restoration today for a free consultation.