Mold is a serious but oftentimes overlooked health concern. While it may not actively attack our bodies, the danger is nevertheless present. Exposure to mold can lead to a number of health problems, many negatively affecting the respiratory system. If you find yourself dealing with the effects of mold, rest easy knowing there are a number of ways you can rid yourself of the harmful spores and prevent any further mold from growing. The first step is identifying where the mold lives.
Mold can grow in a variety of places. In fact, there are different types of mold that can be found in a large number of environments. However, most molds need a warm, damp environment in order to flourish. The reason mold “thrives in warm, humid environments” lies in its reproduction process. If small entities of mold have the water necessary to feed growth, along with humid surroundings that promote life, rather than stifle it like the cold does, spores can grow exponentially.
Indeed, mold “spreads by releasing tiny spores that float through the air.” These spores take up residence in stagnant water, wooded areas, compost piles, and freshly-cut grass, to name a few. Depending on the type of mold, these spores can be incredibly troublesome when inhaled. For example, certain types of mold produce mycotoxins, which are “microscopic organic compounds that can attach to mold spores and cause additional health effects when inhaled.” Symptoms of exposure to mold, specifically mycotoxins, can include non-allergic reactions in addition to the typical symptoms we’ll discuss in a moment.
As we mentioned, mold spores are the culprit when it comes to causing health concerns. They’re the airborne microscopic seeds of mold that typically enter our systems through inhalation.
There are certain circumstances in which you can be more susceptible to the adverse health effects of mold spores. For instance, if you have a family history of allergies, work in a location in which mold is present, or live in a house with high humidity, you have a higher potential of coming into contact with and suffering ill effects from mold.
In some cases, you may experience far worse symptoms. These include non-allergic symptoms such as “depression, cognitive impairment, sleep difficulties, circulation problems, digestive complaints, fatigue, and joint pain.” These impairments are caused by mycotoxins, which are typically associated with black mold poisoning. Fungal infections can occur as well, but are most often found in those with immune system deficiencies.
Mold can certainly cause a number of health problems, but it’s not the only source of concern. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) identifies “building-related illness” as a host of “symptoms of a diagnosable illness are identified and can be attributed directly to airborne building contaminants.” While exposure to mold can be identified and diagnosed, pollens, viruses, and any other biological contaminants could be causing similar symptoms as well. In fact, you may be experiencing a reaction to any combination of these contaminants.
One of the best ways to identify the source of your allergic reaction is to notate when and where you first started noticing changes in your health. If the reaction intensifies when you’re in a certain building, or even part of that building, jot that down as well. Speak to those around you who work/live in the same area, as you may not be the only one experiencing symptoms. You may be surprised by what you find out.
Once you’ve confirmed both the presence of mold and any mold allergy symptoms, it’s important to identify what type of mold you’ve come in contact with. As we mentioned, black mold poisoning can result in inhalation of mycotoxins, which may incur additional damage beyond itchy eyes and a stuffy nose.
If you’ve been exposed to black mold—or any type of mold, for that matter—consult with a physician immediately. Cleaning up the mold will come after you’ve made sure you can manage your symptoms. Your doctor may recommend testing your blood for antibodies. These antibodies are your immune system’s response to contact with mold spores. However, many people choose instead to test their skin; this is because your skin will likely be one of the first parts of your body to react to the mold, and should react more quickly than your immune system would.
Once you’ve received a clean bill of health, it’s time to make sure that mold doesn’t ever come back.
Break out the cleaning supplies. You don’t need orders from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) or the EPA to know that the first step in removing mold from your environment is cleaning it up. According to the EPA, “scrubbing mold off of all hard surfaces using water and detergent and throwing away moldy fabrics such as carpets and curtains” should do the trick. You want to remove any warm/humid environments the mold can take advantage of to spread.
There are certain cases in which a professional mold removal company may be required. Depending on the extent of the mold growth, certain parts of your house’s structure may need replaced to prevent mold from continuing to grow within your walls, ceiling, and/or flooring. This most often occurs when there’s been previous water damage, perhaps due to flooding or a broken/burst pipe. These mold removal companies should be able to assess the extent of the damage and in turn remove every last spore.
Beyond cleaning, there are a few ways you can prevent further mold from setting up shop.
Maintenance cleaning and routine inspection will help support a mold-free environment—and your overall health.
Though “living in a totally mold-free environment is practically impossible,” there are simple steps you can take to prevent mold from growing in your home. Once you’ve identified mold as the cause for your poor health, working towards mitigating the problem begins with cleaning and ends with removing warm, humid areas from your surroundings. Your health should improve after the mold has been taken care of. Let’s not forget to keep up on routine cleaning and inspection—it could mean the difference between overcoming your health concerns and returning to an unhealthy scenario.
If you are concerned about the presence of mold in your home, give Mold Zero a call at 626-671-8885. We are THE mold experts and can take care of most mold problems within 1 business day!