According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) all molds have the potential to cause health effects. Molds produce allergens, irritants, and in some cases, toxins that may cause reactions in humans. The types and severity of symptoms depend, in part, on the types of mold present, the extent of an individual’s exposure, the ages of the individuals, and their existing sensitivities or allergies.
Molds typically grow in buildings affected by water damage and are a potential cause of many health problems including asthma, sinusitis, and infections. People sensitive to molds are particularly uncomfortable on cloudy, rainy, damp days. Molds may also play a major role in cases of sick building syndrome and related illnesses. Allergic reactions can be caused by molds. The most reliable physical findings of mold allergy are dyshidrotic eczema, accompanied by tiny blisters on the palms of the hands. Other symptoms are nummular eczema that looks like ringworm.
Molds typically grow in buildings affected by water damage
In 2004 the Institute of Medicine (IOM) found there was sufficient evidence to link indoor mold exposure to upper respiratory tract symptoms in otherwise healthy people, asthmatic symptoms in people prone to asthma, and fungal infections in individuals with depressed immunity.
Black mold is also called toxic mold because of the effect it can have on living things. The poisons (called mycotoxins) released by mold can adversely affect the health of — even kill — every person and animal that comes into contact with it.
Toxic black mold can enter the body by touching or inhaling spores that the mold has released. As these spores lodge in the respiratory system, they can cause a variety of respiratory problems, including cold- and flu-like symptoms, sore throat, wheezing, nasal congestion, nasal drip and asthma symptoms. The most dangerous variety of mold for respiratory risks is aspergillus, which can form a “fungal ball” that lives in the lungs, releasing carcinogens (cancer-causing agents) that can be fatal. People with weakened immune systems (i.e., immune-compromised or immune-suppressed individuals) may be more vulnerable to infections by molds (as well as more vulnerable than healthy persons to mold toxins).
Other symptoms that have been reported with exposure to black mold include memory problems, anxiety, fatigue, dizziness, nausea, and gastrointestinal symptoms. Sufferers of these symptoms often do not connect them to the presence of mold until they notice the symptoms change dramatically when they are in a different environment: chronic fatigue clears up during a vacation, or dizziness occurs only in a mold-contaminated workplace and subsides when the worker is home. Stachybotrys, one mold variety, can cause serious neurological symptoms. The mycotoxin of Stachybotrys has been considered for use as a chemical warfare agent.
The effects of toxic mold exposure are cumulative, becoming more serious over time. Mold-related illnesses often can be treated, but are more often misdiagnosed, because mold illness can appear to be a bacterial or viral infection.
If you have discovered mold in your home, be sure to get it treated and cleaned up right away. Mold can be very dangerous to the health of your family, and is something that needs to be taken very seriously.