Are you worried that something in your home or workplace could be making you sick? More than 200 species of toxic mold are potentially poisonous and could cause serious health effects.
How common is toxic mold?
Molds are ubiquitous in homes and buildings where they grow and spread in damp conditions. Toxic molds are usually found indoors and can be white or greenish or, in the case of Stachybotrys atra, black, which gives it the more commonly-used name Black Mold. Indoor mold can often be found in attics, behind drywall, under carpets, in insulation, fabrics, leather, and foods.
Any time an area of a house has been exposed to a leak or moisture, it should be thoroughly verified for the presence of mold, which presents as fuzzy, foul growths of differing colors. Mold breaks down and destroys any fabric or material it grows on and can affect the safety of a building. If you notice a new water stain on a wall, bowed buckled floorboards, or black or white specks on a surface, it is time to investigate.
How does toxic mold affect your health?
Allergic reactions to mold are the most common health effects of mold and are, therefore, the most significant health risk related to mold. It may cause asthma attacks in people who have a history of asthma and are allergic to mold. Even in some nonallergic individuals, mold can cause symptoms of irritation in the skin, eyes, and airways. The “black mold” Stachybotrys, along with some other types of mold, produces toxins known as mycotoxins that can irritate the skin and airways in susceptible individuals.
The presence of molds may lead to allergic reactions, and the reactions may happen immediately or develop after the following exposure. Symptoms and signs of mold allergy may include:
- runny nose
- watery eyes
- redness of the eyes
- itchy eyes
- skin irritation, or rash
Where does mold grow in homes?
Bathrooms, shower stalls, and basements are usually moist areas prone to mold growth; any damp area in the home can be moldy. Other examples of areas in the house that can harbor mold with the right growing conditions are drywall, ceiling tiles, furniture, ductwork, carpets, roofing, under sinks, and the areas around plumbing pipes. Mold spores from the outdoor air can enter the building through open doors, windows, and vents. It can also attach to clothing, shoes, and pets and, therefore, be carried indoors.
How do you remove mold from your home?
Mold clean up procedures are somewhat dependent upon the extent of the problem and the type of surface contamination. There are some solutions available such as the INX Labs Do It Yourself Mold Air Test Kit that gives a solid understanding of the contaminants you’re breathing in and the health effects that may result from that exposure. The kit also provides insight into what microbes you may be blowing throughout your home. This mold test gives you a cost-effective alternative to expensive third-party complete home mold inspections.
Be sure to discuss any health problem with a healthcare professional before attempting to remove and clean mold if you have an allergy or are sensitive to molds. Use rubber gloves when washing with soap and water. Avoid touching moldy surfaces with bare hands.
If using bleach and harsher cleaning agents, use nonporous gloves (for example, natural rubber, neoprene, nitrile, polyurethane, or PVC) along with protective eyewear. Wearing an N-95 respirator can further limit exposure to airborne mold or spores when cleaning.
After mold removal, it is essential to prevent mold further by keeping affected areas as dry as possible.