What to Do if Your House has Mold – Health Risks and Tips to Remove Mold
Mold builds up in damp and poorly ventilated areas. On average, a person spends about 12 to 16 hours a day at home, especially children and senior citizens.
Inhalation of mold fragments or spores can cause airway inflammation, which can result in nasal congestion, wheezing, chest tightness, coughing and throat irritation.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), continuous exposure to high levels of indoor dampness and mold can lead to a decrease in lung functionality, and may result in chronic respiratory conditions. People who are asthmatic or allergic can face a higher risk of severe symptoms when exposed to mold.
Aside from visible mold, other indications of dampness problems include mold odor, water stains, cracked wallpaper, wet basements, and so on.
Who Is At Risk Of Mold?
According to the WHO, 15 percent of houses in cold climates show signs of dampness, and about 5 percent have signs of mold problems. In warm climates, however, it is estimated that 20 percent of houses have dampness, and 25 percent have mold. Dampness is most likely to occur in overcrowded houses or those that lack appropriate ventilation, heating and insulation. Because symptoms of mold infection are similar to other respiratory ailments, they are often misdiagnosed.
Types of mold
The most common types of mold include aspergillus, cladosporium and stachybotrys atra (also known as black mold). Aspergillus is a fairly allergenic mold that is commonly found on food and in home air-conditioning systems. Cladosporium is typically a black or green “pepper like” substance that grows on the back of toilets, painted surfaces and fiberglass air ducts. While this mold is nontoxic to humans, it can trigger common allergy symptoms, such as red and watery eyes, rashes and a sore throat.
There is one particular type of mold known as black mold (stachybotrys atra), which is quite distinguishable from other types of mold by its typically black to dark-greenish color and a slimy texture. It is often found indoors, growing on surfaces such as wood, paper and fiberboard, because of the high cellulose content of these materials. It has a distinctive odor that is musty and mildew-like.
Symptoms of black mold infection (also called “toxic mold”) can be very severe, especially if it is untreated for a long time, or when someone has a mold allergy. An infected person experiences nausea, vomiting and may also have nosebleeds, and in severe cases, bleeding in the lungs.
What are the health risks associated with mold in the house?
The effect of mold has been studied for more than three decades, and it has been discovered that it’s a combination of a number of fungi which grow in filaments, and reproduce spores that drift away and are not detectable to the naked eye.
Mold, because of its size is everywhere in homes, outside, and even in our food, and may not be obvious. Homes provide a very viable environment for mold to grow, particularly in a damp basement.
Symptoms of mold in house
The severity of mold symptoms is dependent on the number of spores inhaled and the length of exposure. Some of the symptoms include:
Chronic Sinus Problems
If you have a stuffy nose, it may not be a cold, particularly if you don’t have any other symptoms. A study that was conducted suggests that as much as 90 percent of chronic nasal problems can be traced to mold in the house or in the workplace.
Mold can also result in a nosebleed in some cases as a result of dryness in your home. You should pay attention to nosebleeds, especially if you don’t normally get them. Cleaning your house with bleach-based products and ventilating your home can reduce the risk of having nosebleeds.
Exposure to toxic molds can lead to Hypersensitivity Pneumonitis although the cases are rare. This is a result of inflammation of the lungs due to breathing impurities.