If you find yourself having difficulty breathing seemingly out of nowhere, there’s a chance that mold exposure could be to blame.
Mold spores are all around you – both inside your home and outside. And these spores are anything but harmless.
Here are some of the reasons why mold exposure is so dangerous, and some of the things you can do to minimize your risk.
How Mold Exposure Affects Your Health
Anywhere there’s dampness, there are mold spores. It’s been this way for millions of years. But we’ve only recently begun to get the full picture of how mold exposure can harm human health.
Now, some people are simply more sensitive to mold than others. Some will experience mold exposure symptoms such as wheezing, throat irritation, and coughing. Others won’t be affected at all.1
The Scientific Evidence of Mold Dangers
In 2004, The Institute of Medicine (IOM) determined that there was a link between indoor mold exposure and problems affecting the upper respiratory tract. Otherwise healthy people were coughing, wheezing, and showing other signs of respiratory problems, and the IOM identified mold exposure as a possible reason.2
Additional research suggests that mold exposure at an early age could increase the risk of asthma in children.3
How Mold Spores Get in Your Home
Mold spores can enter your home in a number of different ways. The biggest problem occurs when there’s moisture inside your home for a long period of time.
For example, there might have been a flood during heavy rain, or there could be leaks in your roof. You might have plumbing issues, such as bad connections or leaking pipes. If your carpet is on a poorly ventilated floor, it could continually be moist, resulting in mold formation.
Kitchens and bathrooms are also notorious for moisture accumulation, especially if you don’t have a good exhaust system. Condensation can build up around air conditioners, refrigerators, and other household appliances.4
What is Black Mold?
You’ve probably heard of black mold (Stachybotrys chartarum). It’s usually found in drywall after some sort of water intrusion. Black mold has been linked to severe health problems in infants, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) did not find enough evidence to state there’s a definite relationship.5
Several studies have been conducted to try and find a link between black mold and respiratory issues. However, their findings have been inconclusive. More studies are needed to determine once and for all whether that link exists.6
Can Mold Kill You?
Well, thankfully, the answer to that question in most cases is, “no.” However, certain people are especially susceptible to mold exposure.
For example, people with weakened immune systems may be at a higher risk for contracting pneumonia due to mold exposure.
If you have a chronic lung illness, you could get very sick from inhaling mold spores.7
A specific type of mold, known as Aspergillus fumigatus, can sometimes cause severe allergic reactions. It’s typically found on decaying matter, such as dead leaves, and spores can be carried inside on clothes and shoes. It can also grow in your air conditioner if you don’t change the filter on a regular basis.8
Spotting the Symptoms of Mold Exposure
If you have mold in your home, that doesn’t automatically mean you’re going to get sick. In many instances, mold doesn’t lead to any kinds of health problems.
However, many people suffer allergic reactions to mold. If you have any of the following, and you’ve ruled out other causes, you might be one of them:
- Eye redness
- Itching eyes
- Rashes on skin
- A runny nose
- Watery eyes
Mold exposure symptoms can also make it hard to breathe and lead to the development of fever in some people. A condition known as hypersensitivity pneumonitis has been linked to mold. This is a rare condition, similar to pneumonia, that often affects people with asthma who have mold allergies.9
How Do You Control Mold Exposure?
The fact that mold exposure can, in some instances, lead to severe respiratory issues, such as pneumonia, is obviously scary. But the good news is, there are several things you can do to help reduce those risks.
- Fix any leaking pipes as soon as possible. The same goes for a leaky roof or window.
- If your home has experienced a flood, make sure all of your floors are thoroughly dried and cleaned.
- You should also make sure your kitchen, bathroom, and laundry room are properly ventilated.10
Symptoms of Mold in House
Now, there are a lot of ways you’ll be able to tell if you have mold in your home. You may, for instance, see water spots on a floor or ceiling. Or you might see discoloration or stains on your walls or furniture. A musty smell is another giveaway.
You might also see signs of water damage on your floors, such as peeling finish or rotting wood. Condensation on your walls or windows is another indication of potential mold contamination.
If people who are sensitive to mold show mold exposure symptoms when they’re in your home, that could also be a sign you have a problem.11
Taking Action if You Have Mold
Depending on the level of contamination, you may need to call a professional to have the mold removed from your home. If the contamination isn’t that extensive, however, you might be able to clean it up yourself.
Using detergent and water, thoroughly scrub any hard surfaces where you see mold. If you find mold on any sort of absorbent material, such as carpeting or tile, you’ll probably have to throw it away.
If you’re not sure how to properly clean or dispose of moldy material, call a professional.12
Protect Yourself and Your Family
Mold exposure is not just unsightly. It can lead to annoying – and in some cases, severe – respiratory issues. If you’re coughing, wheezing, or showing other symptoms of a problem, mold could be the reason.
Check your home thoroughly, and take the steps necessary to eliminate any mold you find. If the job is too big for you to tackle yourself, don’t hesitate to call a specialist.
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