Mold Exposure Symptoms And Prevention

Moldy bricks

The presence of home mold is more than unsightly. The word mold alone is enough to send chills down homeowners’ spines. The slimy black spots found on shower curtains, the kitchen drain, the basement floor, and other damp areas around your house can put the people living there at risk of developing respiratory complications, especially if they have asthma or allergies. Since mold naturally exists almost everywhere, living in a mold-free environment is impossible.

Mold exposure can cause your immune system to overreact when inhaling its spores, especially if you are sensitive to mold. To better understand why mold is problematic and how to combat it, find out what exactly it is and what causes it.

What Is Mold?

Molds are a type of fungus that naturally occurs in warm, damp, and humid environments.

According to the Institute of Medicine (IOM), excessive dampness contributes to mold growth. Outdoor and indoor mold can be white or black mold. There are various types of mold, including Stachybotrys chartarum, Penicillium, and Cladosporium, among others. People use the words mold and mildew interchangeably, though mildew is a type of mold. Mold reproduces by forming spores that can travel through the air and can be inhaled. 

The airborne mold may land anywhere in an outdoor or indoor environment and begin to grow.

Mold growth speeds up in indoor environments since enclosed spaces amplify their ability to attach. In small amounts, mold is not harmful to humans. However, when an individual inhales the mold, it may cause several health issues, with coughing, wheezing, allergies, and asthma being some of the most common. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, people with asthma or those with allergic symptoms to mold exhibit severe reactions and health effects.

How to Identify Mold in Your Home

Indoor mold starts as little spots but can grow quickly. It is barely noticeable at first. Molds can appear in colors- white, black, or just about any color- and may appear velvety, cottony, or powdery. To tell if a spot is mold growth, you will notice peeling or cracking on the surface it is growing on. The area also has an earthy, musty smell. Mold is present in areas with minimal light exposure and poor air conditioning. Mold spots, if left unattended, continue to grow. Additionally, molds will lighten in color when bleach is applied.

Mold Allergy and Other Effects On Human Health

Not all mold types harm human health, and not all mold causes lung disease. However, many molds can cause health problems to humans with weakened immune systems when inhaled or touched. Molds produce irritants, allergens, and sometimes toxins that can cause health effects and reactions in humans. Responses vary depending on a person’s allergies or sensitivities, age, and how much mold the person is exposed to. You will find that the effects of mold exposure are primarily on an individual’s upper respiratory system.

Mold exposure may cause sensitive people to display many symptoms. When inhaled or touched, mold can cause allergic reactions such as itching, skin rash, watery eyes, nasal congestion, sneezing, and a runny nose. People with mold allergies can experience asthma attacks, causing shortness of breath, chest tightness, and wheezing. People with compromised immune systems are more at risk since the black mold may cause infections affecting the lungs, eyes, and other vital organs.

How to Determine If You Have Been Exposed To Mold Spores

If you keep experiencing the above-mentioned allergy symptoms, the chances of mold exposure are high. It is advisable to seek medical advice as soon as possible. To determine whether you have been close to mold, a physician will run a test to check the presence of mold-specific antibodies. If you test positive, that alone cannot tell you how much mold you have been exposed to or when you were exposed. You must check your home for the growth of black mold and take measures to combat it.

Protection and Prevention

Controlling moisture or wetness is the key to preventing mold growth in your home. Various sources contribute to a home’s dampness, including water leaks, poorly ventilated spaces, and people and pets. The Environmental Protection Agency urges homeowners to try to keep the humidity levels in their homes below 60% to reduce mold growth.

How to reduce humidity in your home:

  • Take care of water spills and leakages as fast as possible
  • Use a dehumidifier to reduce the amount of moisture
  • Avoid laying carpets in basements and damp areas
  • Clean hard surfaces regularly to prevent mold spores from attaching
  • Ensure all fabrics are dry before storing them
  • Avoid drying clothing indoors
  • Use extractor fans when cooking to remove excess moisture
  • Air spaces by leaving windows open when possible
  • Using air conditioners

As mentioned before, preventing mold from growing is practically impossible. However, regular cleaning of surfaces can reduce the amount of mold growing in your home and the risk of it getting worse.

How to Get Rid Of Mold in Your Home

To remove or reduce mold, locate all visible and moldy items in your home and clean the surfaces using a mixture of eight ounces of bleach in one gallon of water. Always ensure that you properly clean the dry areas to prevent getting an allergic reaction from parts of the dead mold. Note that the spores can remain dormant for a long time after they are produced and can begin growing at any time. If you notice that black mold keeps growing on certain items, consider disposing of them. To prevent indoor molds from reappearing, use a heavily diluted bleach solution to kill the spores and set up an air conditioner to improve air circulation and eliminate the wetness.

Large areas of mold growing in your home may require the services of a professional specialized in mold remediation and removal. Mold remediation involves identifying sources of moisture and fixing damages. Following the advice of a professional, clean, remove or replace all porous materials hosting the mold. Also, clean and dry non-porous surfaces thoroughly before placing back the carpets.


Bottom Line

While preventing mold growth in your house entirely is impossible, ensure that you keep an eye for small growths and manage the situation before it grows out of control. Ensure your indoor humidity is low and keep hard surfaces clean. If you have developed symptoms caused by mold exposure, visit your physician for treatment.

At Restoration 1 of Greater Minneapolis, we offer 24-Hour emergency mold remediation services in St. Paul, St. Louis Park, Edina, Bloomington, Maple Grove & Minneapolis, MN. You can always reach us at (612) 200-2302.