Mold Can Be Deadly
What many people don’t realize is that mold can make you extremely sick, or even kill you. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA),1 all molds have the potential to cause ill health. The type and severity of your symptoms depend, in part, on the types of mold present, the extent of your exposure, your age and general health, and your existing sensitivities or allergies.
At a 2003 environmental medicine symposium in Dallas, studies of more than 1,600 patients suffering health issues related to fungal exposure were presented. These patients experienced major medical problems, including the following:
- Muscle and joint pain
- Headache, anxiety, depression, memory loss, and visual disturbances
- Immune system disturbances and fatigue
- GI problems
- Shortness of breath
Yet, medical professionals are sometimes not up to speed on how extensive and devastating mold can be to human health, often missing important biological clues that you’re being affected by mold. It is important to be aware of these potential problems because your physician may NOT be, and you need to take the wheel for your own health.
Mold’s Favorite Places in Your Home
Fungi grow by releasing reproductive cells (spores) into the air, just as plants reproduce by spreading seeds. The airborne spores are invisible to the naked eye, which is a major reason mold is such a problem. It is not uncommon to find hundreds or even thousands of mold spores per cubic foot of indoor air. Spores are extremely small (1-100 microns)—20 million spores would fit on a postage stamp.
Spores can survive harsh environmental conditions, such as dryness, that do not support normal mold growth. In fact, many spores can lie dormant for decades until favorable conditions allow them to spring back to life.
Molds can be found almost anywhere; they can grow on virtually any substance, provided moisture and oxygen are present. There are molds that can grow on wood, paper, carpet, tile, sheetrock, insulation, leather, fabrics, and foods. Molds survive by digesting whatever substrate they are growing on, which is a real problem when it happens to be your floorboards. There is no way to eliminate all mold and mold spores from your indoor environment; the only way to control indoor mold growth is to control moisture. The most common indoor places for mold to take hold are damp areas, such as:
- Bathrooms and kitchens, especially under sinks—particularly leaky ones
- Behind or under appliances that hide slow plumbing leaks (refrigerators, dishwashers, washing machines, etc.)
- Roof leaks
- Around windows where condensation collects
- High humidity areas of your home, such as basements
Often, the first sign of a mold problem is a “musty” odor. You are probably familiar with the smell of mildew—mildew is simply a variety of mold. You could also notice bowed or buckled floorboards, discolored carpet, a new water stain on your wall, or black or white specks—all signs you could be developing a mold problem.
What to Do Once You’ve Established That Mold Is a Problem
Mold spores are very difficult to destroy, even with cleaning agents, such as hot water or bleach (which is itself toxic). The best way to reduce the problem is through smart preventive measures.
According to Dr. Rapp, first and foremost you want to get away from the problematic area—which means move if you have to.
“I’ve seen people try to stay in a moldy house when their child is very sick or they are very sick. They try to clean the place up. They take out the moldy carpet and decide to paint the moldy walls. But they can become so desperately ill that it is very hard to treat them in the future.”
If you can’t move, there are other remedial steps you need to take to address the problem:
- Get a high-quality air purifier to control mold toxins. In addition to the mold itself, you need to make sure you get rid of any mold toxins. When a mold breaks down, it disintegrates, and every little particle may contain mycotoxins that have the capability of making you very sick.One option is a photocatalytic oxidation (PCO) unit. I personally like these because they cover the whole house (up to 3000 square feet), require little maintenance, and are relatively inexpensive.
***Please understand that no air filter in the world will take care of mold issues until you have the humidity under control and the mold properly cleaned from your house.
- Professional remediation. If your mold problem is sizeable, or if you have black mold, you may want to consider hiring a professional remediator. Unless proper precautions are taken, undertaking black mold removal on your own can be almost as hazardous as doing nothing at all, because spores will be stirred up and sent airborne during the cleaning process.
If you catch the problem early, you can save yourself tens of thousands of dollars in extra cleanup costs. (Trust me, as I made this mistake myself and wouldn’t want to see anyone else go through it.) Make sure a remediator doesn’t use chemicals you’re sensitive to—a chemical allergy is the LAST thing you need while you are recovering from a mold poisoning!
Titan Environmental can give you your peace of mind back with just a phone call and an appointment to test your home for mold. We service almost ALL the states in the Midwest such as:
- South Dakota
For more information on your states environmental agencies and guidelines please visit our helpful links page.