With the intention of helping people remove mold from their homes, Bill Tyrrell founded his mold remediation company, Triage BioClean Services. Over the years, Tyrrell became one of the foremost experts of mold remediation in his area. Here, he sets the record straight on the health effects of mold contamination.
It is true that molds are everywhere. As a member of the same family as mushrooms and yeasts, molds have been citizens of our world for literally thousands of years. Like most living organisms, molds need moisture to live and reproduce. That’s why you’re likely to find mold in areas with leaks or high humidity. Molds are highly beneficial to humans. Penicillin is made from mold and was a breakthrough drug when discovered. And while mold can certainly be great, it can also be horrific, especially when it’s in your house.
Potential Issues of Being Exposed to Mold
Mold can have a number of harmful health effects, including allergic reactions, irritation, and in rare cases, infection. On the other hand, people with allergies, asthma, weak immune system or chronic lung disease have a higher risk of being harmed by mold. These people are especially at risk of contracting lung infections from mold, which is why it is generally recommended for them to stay away from wooded areas, cut grass, and other places that are likely to contain pollen and allergens. However, for the most part, mold does not harm healthy people.
Irritation is often caused by volatile organic compounds that mold creates as a byproduct. The symptoms can range from the physical, such as sneezing and congestion and headaches, to mental, such as difficulty concentrating. Additional symptoms can include skin rash, eye irritation and dizziness. Often these symptoms are caused by mycotoxins, a toxic substance emitted by mold. The harmful effects of mycotoxins can be aggravated by other factors such as diet and genetics.
Most molds don’t cause allergic reactions. But if you have chronic allergies that don’t go away with the seasons, that’s a high indicator that you may have a mold allergy. In addition, if you or your family members are allergic to pollen or dander, you’re more likely to have an allergy to mold.
Disease is the least common health hazard associated with mold, but people who have weakened immune systems, whether because they have AIDS or are undergoing chemotherapy or transplant surgery, are at risk of contracting infections from mold that normally wouldn’t harm a healthy person.
Safety Tips for Dealing With Mold
If you have a small patch of mold, you can take care of it on your own with a little unscented detergent. All molds release spores, some of which are harmful when inhaled, so wearing a dust mask is a good idea. Wear safety goggles and gloves as well to minimize contact. People with health and respiratory problems should never clean mold, and small children and pets should be kept away from a contaminated area.
Never paint over mold, as it will still be able to grow under the paint. Bathrooms are a prime target for mold and should be cleaned with mold-killing cleaning products. If any part of your home floods, dry the area and any absorbent materials such as rugs or carpets as soon as possible.
High humidity can create a friendly environment for mold. If your home has excessive humidity levels, you may have a problem with your heating system. If you live in a humid climate, a dehumidifier can help you prevent mold. If the mold is deeply embedded in an area of your home or occupies more than 10 square feet of space, contact a professional mold remediation expert. If you choose to tackle the problem on your own, wear a particle filter mask approved by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
The information in the article is not intended to substitute for the medical expertise and advice of your healthcare provider. We encourage you to discuss any decisions about treatment or care with an appropriate healthcare provider.