All indoor molds present a potential health risk and should be treated with caution according to the Center for Disease Control. The (EPA) Environmental Protection Agency recommends that any indoor mold growth be addressed immediately and that all water or moisture sources be eliminated.
Some molds have been more closely associated with specific health problems. One example is Stachybotrys atra, a greenish–black mold often referred to as “toxic mold.” It grows on material with high cellulose content (e.g. drywall, wood, paper, dust). Stachybotrys becomes a problem when it emits mycotoxins (poisons) capable of producing toxic effects in humans and animals. Many Aspergillus species of molds also produce mycotoxins. Beyond allergic type reactions, mold also has the potential create diseases in people can become chronic with extended exposure.
Statistics show that most people spend an average of 90 percent of their time indoors. We like to think our homes are healthy places to live and raise our families and that our offices safe to work in. But just how safe are they?
Molds and other fungi may adversely affect human health through three processes: 1) allergy; 2) infection; and 3) toxicity. Exposure to mold is not healthy for anyone. However, the following individuals are at a higher risk than others for adverse health effects; • infants • children • elderly • immune compromised patients • pregnant women • individuals with existing respiratory conditions and allergies. Airborne toxic mold spores can affect the immune system, nervous system, liver, kidneys, blood and cause brain damage. With so much compelling evidence that enough mold can kill people, how much mold is acceptable to you?
Everyone is exposed to mold in the outdoor air but exposure to indoor molds can accelerate aggravated conditions for some. Some molds are more hazardous than others. For some people, a small number of mold spores can cause severe health problems. For others, it may take many more. Mold spores often cause adverse reactions, much like pollen from plants. Some molds (particularly toxic molds) can trigger instant and uncontrollable vomiting in mold sensitive people.
There are many symptoms of mold exposure. Allergic reactions are the most common and typically include: chronic clogged throat; wheezing and difficulty breathing; nasal and sinus congestion; burning, watery, reddened eyes or blurry vision; sore throat; dry cough; nose and throat irritation; shortness of breath; nausea; and skin irritation.
Other less common effects are: nervous system problems (headaches, memory loss, moodiness); aches and pains; and fever. If you have any of these symptoms, and they are reduced or completely gone when you leave the suspect area, chances are you have been exposed to some sort of allergen, quite possibly mold.