It is estimated that there is over 400,000 different types of mold. Less than 100,000 have actually been named, of which less than 1,000 are commonly found indoors. Of all the molds found indoors, few are known to produce potentially harmful mycotoxins. That's the good news. The bad news is, without a proper visual inspection, equipment measurements and mold testing with laboratory analysis there is no way to know the difference. Direct microscopic analysis by highly trained and educated personnel working from a third-party laboratory combined with an on-site inspection of the environment by a trained and certified inspector is the only way to know for certain if mold is present, which types of mold are present and if there are elevated levels in the air and on surfaces.
Exposure to airborne mold spores can occur through inhalation, ingestion or skin contact, and can result in symptoms including dermatitis, cough, rhinitis, nose bleeds, cold and flu symptoms, headache, general malaise and fever.
Health Risks of Mold Chart
(click to enlarge)
Molds are organized into three groups according to human responses: Allergenic, Pathogenic and Toxigenic.
- Allergenic Molds
- Allergenic molds do not usually produce life-threatening health effects and are most likely to affect those with allergies. The body's responses to allergenic mold tend to be relatively mild, depending on individual sensitivities and allergies. Typical symptoms include:
- Scratchy, Sore or Itchy Throat
- Nasal Congestion
- Runny Nose
- Coughing and Wheezing
- Shortness of Breath/Breathing Difficulties
- Asthma Flares
- Itchy or Watery Eyes
- Sensitive or Itchy Skin
- Skin Rash
- Pathogenic Molds - Pathogenic molds usually produce some type of infection. They can cause serious health effects in persons with suppressed immune systems. Healthy people can usually resist infection by these organisms. However, in some cases, high exposure can cause hypersensitivity and infection with those who are seemingly healthy.
- Toxigenic Molds - While a toxic mold is living and growing, toxic metabolites called mycotoxins are produced. Exposure to this chemical compound by other organisms can be harmful. The health effects of mycotoxin exposure to humans can vary, ranging from short-term bodily irritation and allergenic reaction to lung infection, a weakened immune system, cancer or even death. Initial awareness of adverse health effects from exposure to mycotoxins was raised by a mid-1990's study from Cleveland, Ohio, involving infants who had died from sudden and unexplained pulmonary hemorrhage (bleeding of the lungs). Upon investigation, researchers found that the infants resided in homes with high levels of the mold Stachybotrys atra were prone to serious health effects. Therefore, when the presence of toxigenic mold is suspected within a property, inspection and testing is advised. Furthermore, when such mold and/or mycotoxins are identified, remedial action is highly recommended.
Mold and health concerns go hand in hand. The medical and legal communities are now taking mold contamination very seriously. There are a number of documented cases of health effects and physical problems resulting from indoor exposure to mold and mold spores. Mold related illnesses can result from high level/short-term exposures and lower level/long-term exposures. The most common health effects or symptoms reported from exposure to indoor mold environments are a chronic clearing of the throat, runny nose, eye irritation, cough, congestion and aggravation of asthma — allergic reactions similar to cat allergies — headache and fatigue. Mold related health effects are often reported as feeling like you have a cold but you don't. Eventually it may feel like you have the flu but you don't. Many of our customers report feeling better when they leave their home for a week or more. Once they arrive back within a day or so they are ill again.
With so much overwhelming evidence to support the dangers of exposure to mold, mold testing is the first step in properly assessing whether an abnormal or elevated mold condition exists.
Related articles and resources:
- Mold, Indoor Air Quality and Your Home
- Mold in the Work Environment
- Asthma and Mold
- Managing Allergies on Vacation
Some individuals have a higher risk of experiencing negative health effects than others. These high risk types include:
- Those with allergies
- Infants and children
- Pregnant women
- Individuals recovering from surgery
- Individual’s with existing respiratory problems
- Immune compromised individuals (those who are HIV-AIDS positive, cancer and other conditions)
When high levels of airborne toxic mold spores are inhaled deep into the lungs they have the potential of entering the bloodstream and affecting the immune system, nervous system, liver, kidneys, blood and causing brain damage. With enough long-term exposure to elevated mold environments, it is possible for mold related illnesses and health effects to become life-long chronic diseases.
For more information about mold and how its affect on you, your family and your property, call us at 866-358-3838 or submit an Online Contact Form to receive a return call or e-mail.