MOLD SYMPTOMS AND FACTS
People react differently in their sensitivity to airborne mold spores. The elderly, children and those with respiratory problems and compromised immune systems are the most vulnerable to ill health effects of mold. However, even healthy individuals may have adverse reactions to high concentrations of mold in their environment.
Typical symptoms that mold-exposed people report include:
• Respiratory problems such as wheezing, difficulty breathing
* Headaches, memory problems, mood swings, nosebleeds, body aches/pains and fevers are also reported in mold cases.
-> Who is Most At Risk of Health Concerns From Mold Exposure?
Excessive exposure to mold is not healthy for anyone inside buildings, especially where ventilation is limited. There are, however, certain individuals who are more likely to experience severe reactions to mold exposure. People with allergies tend to be more sensitive to molds. People with immune suppression or underlying lung disease are more susceptible to fungal infections.
Other high risk candidates include:
• Infants, children and the elderly
People with these special concerns who live or work in mold contaminated environments should consult a physician if they are having health problems. People who experience unexplained health problems while inside a structure that tend to go away when they leave the structure should consider having an inspection and testing done to determine the likelihood of indoor mold growth being the cause of their symptoms.
Are Some Molds More Hazardous Than Others?
Mold spores are organized into three groups according to human responses:
• Allergenic (most likely to affect those who are already allergic or asthmatic)
• Pathogenic (serious health effects in persons with suppressed immune systems)
• Toxigenic (capable of causing serious health effects in almost anybody)
While Stachybotrys is alive and growing, a wet slime layer covers its spores, preventing them from becoming airborne. However, when Stachybotrys dies and dries up, air currents or physical handling can disturb the mold and cause spores to become airborne. At present there is no environmental test to determine whether or not Stachybotrys growth found in buildings is producing toxins. Nevertheless, since the health effects of mold on people and animals are the same whether the mold is viable (alive) or non-viable (dead), whenever testing confirms the presence of Stachybotrys indoors, appropriate remediation steps should be taken immediately whether the mold is growing or not.
The amount of mold present is more concerning than the types. Experts will argue about which molds are potentially more hazardous than others. But more concerning are the levels of airborne spores than the types of molds present indoors. Stachybotrys and other toxigenic molds such as Chaetomium, Aspergillus and others are absolutely undesirable to have growing indoors and should always be taken seriously. A few rogue spores of toxigenic mold in an air sample is far less worrisome than a few million spores of the common molds such as Penicillium or Cladosporium.
Consider this – if you open a bottle of Clorox bleach outdoors and hold it to your chest – how long will it take you to get sick? You probably won't get sick outdoors in the open air. But if you open that same bottle of bleach indoors in a small enclosed space such as a bathroom – how long will it take you to get sick? In just a few moments your eyes will be irritated to tears, your nose and throat will be burning, and you will most likely become violently ill, vomiting and unable to get the smell and taste of bleach out of your nose and mouth for days. Why? It’s the exact same bottle of bleach regardless of where you open it, right? So what's the difference? The difference is the space in which you are exposed to the bleach. And so it is with mold. You can take the exact same molds that are outdoors right now, not bothering anyone in the open air, place them indoors in an enclosed environment and multiply them by 100, or 1,000 or a million, and you will have a very toxic environment, regardless of what types of mold it is. That is why testing is so important.
The difference is the space in which you are exposed to the bleach. And so it is with mold. You can take the exact same molds that are outdoors right now, not bothering anyone in the open air, place them indoors in an enclosed environment and multiply them by 100, or 1,000 or a million, and you will have a very toxic environment, regardless of what types of mold it is. That is why testing is so important.
-> How Can I Be Exposed to Mold?
Illness from mold exposure can only occur in one of three ways: (1) through absorption into skin; (2) ingestion; or (3) inhalation. While it is never good to have mold growing indoors, if it is, you are not necessarily exposed to a health risk just because it’s there. Nobody gets sick looking at mold on a wall. But when molds are disturbed, their spores may be released into the air. You may then be exposed to the spores through the air you breathe. Furthermore, if you directly handle moldy materials, you can be exposed to mold and mold spores through contact with your skin. Eating moldy foods or having hand-to-mouth contact after handling moldy food is yet another way you can be exposed. With the exception of children who don't know any better, most people would not intentionally touch mold or knowingly ingest it. But disturbing mold can easily send billions of spores in the air and create an immediate health risk within an enclosed indoor environment.