What is mold?
There are over 100 species that are known to cause infection in humans. Three classifications of infection caused by fungi are systematic, opportunistic, and dermatophytic. Many fungi produce toxic metabolites called mycotoxins. The health effects from exposure to the levels of mycotoxins that may be encountered in contaminated indoor environments are not yet completely known. However, dramatic toxic and carcinogenic effects have been reported for animals and humans exposed to high levels of mycotoxins in laboratory studies. Generally, mycotoxins are non-volatile and exposure usually occurs only after the disturbance of a contaminated source. Symptoms of exposure may include headache, nosebleeds, dermatitis, and immune suppression.
What are the most common types of indoor mold
There are hundreds of thousands of mold species, but you will most likely only encounter a few. The most common types of indoor molds that you might encounter are:
how does mold affect People
Mold has varying effects on people depending on the type of mold, the extent of the exposure, and each person’s sensitivity to mold.
Mild mold exposure reactions are similar to allergy symptoms with:
- Irritated eyes
- Skin irritation
However, some people are more sensitive to mold exposure and may have reactions that are more serious. In addition, prolonged mold exposure, such as farmers working with moldy hay or people living in mold-infested homes might also exhibit more serious symptoms, such as:
- Lung infections
- Shortness of breath
- Asthma symptoms
- Respiratory illness
- Itchy or red eyes
Some studies have also shown that mold exposure can lead to asthma in children.
where can you find mold?
Mold is found in almost every environment, both indoors and outdoors, in winter and summer. However, mold grows best in humid, warm places. Outdoors, you will find mold in damp, shady places or areas where vegetation is rotting. Inside, you can find mold in showers, bathrooms, crawl spaces, or basements where there is a high humidity level.
how can you decrease mold exposure?
You can easily control the growth and, therefore, exposure to mold in your home by controlling the humidity levels and thoroughly cleaning and ventilating cooking areas and showers. If there is mold growth in your home, limit your exposure by having it removed by a professional. You can easily clean mold off a hard surface with soap, water, bleach or other household cleaning products. Just remember to wear protective eye-wear and non-porous gloves while cleaning the mold, and never mix cleaning products together, as that could lead to a dangerous reaction between chemicals. If you are sensitive to mold, the best way to decrease exposure is to simply avoid areas with mold such as wooded places, compost heaps and cut grass. If you are exposed, contact your primary care physician and, if necessary, see a specialist.
i've been exposed to mold; what should i do?
Most mold exposures will result in allergy-like symptoms and can be relieved by over-the-counter medications. You should consult your general health care practitioner or family doctor, as they can recommend the best medications for you and your health. Your doctor may also recommend that you see a specialist. Specialists who treat mold exposure include infectious disease doctors and allergy specialists who can prescribe strong allergy medications. If you have a mold infection in your lungs, you may need to see a pulmonary specialist.
the mold in my workplace is making me sick. where can i go for help?
If you believe that you are sick because of exposure to mold infestation in your workplace, your first step is to consult your doctor and take care of your health. Next, notify your employer and, if applicable, your union representative to ensure that your doctor’s visit and corresponding treatment are covered by insurance. You can contact your local health department (city, county, or state) to ensure that your employer is taking the necessary steps to clean up the mold and prevent future growth. You can also read the Environment Protection Agency’s guidelines for workplace health to make sure your rights are protected.
my builder or landlord is not taking responsibility for cleaning up mold in my home. what can i do?
If you feel that your landlord, property manager or builder has not taken appropriate action regarding your concerns about mold in your home, you should contact your local housing authority or board of health. Applicable insurance, legal workings, codes, and issues will fall under your local and state jurisdiction. Review your lease or building contract and contact an attorney, insurance company or local government if you feel your rights have been violated. You are in charge of protecting yourself and should feel free to fight for your right to live in a clean, safe home.
Mold is all around us, and, in some cases, can be very damaging to our health. Use these questions and answers to guide you through mold exposure concerns and the removal process. If you need more information, contact your local health department.
what can i do to prevent further damage & cost when a water leak is detected?
- Stop the incoming flow of water
- Notify your property insurer
- Remove as much water as possible by mopping and blotting
- Wipe excess water from wood furniture
- Place foil or plastic under furniture legs to prevent staining
- Hang furs and leathers to dry in a separate area at room temperature
- If possible keep the indoor temperature under 70 degrees. Turning on air conditioning systems in the summer time will help the area dry.
- Turn off electricity at breakers in affected areas
- Remove small rugs, boxes, books or other items that might stain carpet
- Move valuable paintings and art objects to dry in a safe place
- Keep an activity log, including a record of all contact with your insurance company
- Keep a copy of all receipts
- Don’t throw away removed or damaged materials until instructed by your insurance company
- Photograph the damaged area
- Do Not use electronics or other household appliances while standing on wet carpets or floors, especially on concrete
- Do Not use your household vacuum as this may cause electrical shock
- Do Not turn on ceiling fixtures if ceiling is wet, and keep out of rooms where ceilings are sagging from retained water
should i test mold i find in my home or workplace?
The Center for Disease Control, or CDC, does not recommend regular mold testing for residences or even some commercial venues. As allergies and other illnesses can be caused by a large number of mold species, it is best to simply remove the mold without bothering to determine its type. In addition, accurately sampling and testing mold can be expensive and difficult. It is much better to spend your time and money thoroughly eliminating the danger.