Mold Allergies & Health Affects

In what ways can I be exposed to mold?
When moldy materials becomes damaged or disturbed, spores are released into the air. Exposure can occur if you inhale the spores, directly handle moldy materials, or accidentally ingest the mold. Certain molds produce chemicals called mycotoxins (myco = fungus, toxin = harmful or poisonous substance) and mold volatile organic compounds (irritating chemicals released into the air = “musty odor”). These may cause illnesses in individuals sensitive to the chemicals or who are immunocompromised, or who have become sensitive after long-term exposure to mold.

Can mold affect my health?
Under normal circumstances, most mold types and levels are not harmful to healthy individuals. However, when molds grow indoors, their numbers increase to levels that can become harmful. Long-term exposure to mold may cause or worsen conditions such as asthma, hay fever, or other allergies. The most common symptoms of mold exposure are cough, chest or sinus congestion, runny nose, eye irritations, and aggravation of asthma, chronic respiratory or sinus infections. Depending on the exposure level and your sensitivity to the mold, more serious health effects may result.

What steps do I take if my home or business is contaminated with mold?
The first step is to find the source of moisture that led to the mold growth and have it resolved. Mold contamination should be removed as soon as it is discovered. If visible mold is seen on walls or ceilings, it might be necessary to collect additional samples inside the wall/ceiling cavities to identify the extent of contamination and narrow the scope of remediation work. When surfaces containing mold contamination are disrupted, millions of spores are spread throughout the air. Small patches of mold growth may be carefully and properly removed without professional assistance. Extensive and/or recurring mold growth might be an indication of a pervasive problem. This problem will most likely require a skilled mold remediation company who will use proper containment and removal equipment, depending on the situation.

Different levels of contamination require varying degrees of remediation. Remediation can range from disinfecting a small area affected by mold to “gutting” a room that has had chronic moisture intrusion and severe mold growth. If the mold returns after remediation has been completed, it indicates that a moisture problem still exists or that the contamination was not completely removed.

Should I see a doctor if I am exposed to mold?
If you believe that you or someone in your family has symptoms that you suspect might be linked to mold exposure, you should consult a physician who has experience with mold exposure illnesses. If mold testing was performed in the house or building, bring a copy of the report, including any accompanying data tables to your doctor. Keep in mind that many symptoms associated with mold exposure can also be associated with other environmental problems. Tell you doctor about the symptoms, when they began, and the period of time you think you were exposed to mold. If you do not get better or symptoms worsen over time, an indoor mold inspection will be important in finding mold contamination sources and suggesting how to solve the problem.