Are you wondering how can mold affect you?
Or maybe you want to know how mold affects health in general.
Either way, this guide is for you.
Below, we’ll go over the real effects mold can have on your health so you can know exactly what it can or can’t do to you.
How Mold Affects Health
Mold is all around us in our environment, from the water we drink to the food we eat to even the air we breathe.
For most healthy individuals, this constant low-level mold exposure doesn’t pose a problem. Of course, some people are sensitive to mold spores and develop respiratory symptoms with even a little exposure. However, most people’s immune systems are great at handling it.
That isn’t to say mold is absolutely harmless.
Mold growing indoors results in a lot of spores in an enclosed space. At this level, how can mold affect you? If you have an undiagnosed allergy to mold, you may experience headaches, sudden mood changes, a bleeding nose or other symptoms.
If you ingest mold by accident, you may experience mycotoxicosis, otherwise known as mold poisoning. And if you have a weakened immune system for any reason, it’s very important to be aware of the health issues mold can cause whether ingested or inhaled.
How mold affects health isn’t the only concern either.
There’s also the simple fact that growing mold can damage the support structures of a building, resulting in a loss of structural integrity and increasing the danger of collapse for old buildings.
Mold doesn’t look or smell good, so it can have a severe detriment to the aesthetics of a room too.
Growing mold is a sign of excess moisture and humidity in the environment, so it’s common to basements that have these problems. And that’s just where you don’t want structural integrity compromised.
Mold is also most likely to grow in areas that are prone to flooding or where stray leaks occur.
Associated Health Problems
There are a lot of negative effects attributed to one mold species in particular, called “Stachybotrys chartarum,” or “black mold”.
S. chartarum is not the only black mold species, but it’s a common one. It’s hard to say why black mold is feared more than any other mold, but if you’re searching for how can mold affect you, be aware that no mold is more dangerous than any other.
Below are the most common health problems associated with mold exposure.
There are many symptoms that a person allergic to mold can experience once exposed to it. Many of them are respiratory in nature.
- Asthma is a common symptom, as is wheezing and shortness of breath.
- There may be an excess of mucus in the sinuses, indicated by watery eyes and a runny nose.
- Another symptom is blocked sinuses altogether, such as with sinusitis, or inflammation of the sinuses.
- A sufferer of mold allergies may also experience a dry cough and a sore throat.
- Skin rashes are less common but can present on exposure to mold spores.
Fungal infections in people have not been proven to be caused by indoor mold growth, and other factors such as the anatomy of the infection sufferer are usually the culprit.
For example, those with asthma or an immune deficiency can develop bronchopulmonary aspergillosis from exposure to the fungus aspergillus. However, other well-known fungal infections such as athlete’s foot do not result from the presence of indoor mold at all.
You may have heard of “toxic mold syndrome” or “toxic mold disease”. These are terms invented for legal purposes such as lawsuits and are not medical diagnoses.
Molds do produce substances known as mycotoxins. But the only proven method by which mycotoxins can harm people is through ingestion.
Eating moldy food can result in a toxic effect, but breathing in moldy air not so much. That doesn’t mean you won’t feel harmful health effects from breathing in mold, which does happen.
The best way to reduce airborne mold exposure is to use an air purifier in your home. This machine strips mold spores out of the air and traps them in a filter. This keeps the spores out of the air you breathe. You can find our review of the best air purifier for mold and mildew and tips on how to select the best one for your needs.
People Most at Risk
Fungal infection, allergic reactions, and other health effects are more likely when a person’s immune system is compromised, or not working as well as in a healthy individual.
Therefore, the people whose health is most at risk from mold include:
- The very young
- The elderly
- Those with uncontrolled HIV
- People taking immunosuppressant drugs for transplant purposes
- Cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy
Mold Prevention Tips
Just as important as understanding how mold affects health is understanding how to prevent its growth. The fact remains that mold is unsightly and has an unpleasant odor.
The best way to control mold growth is to reduce moisture and humidity indoors.
- You can easily reduce high humidity with a dehumidifier.
- Remove standing water and fix leaks promptly to lower moisture.
- If mold is growing on hard surfaces, you can remove it with a simple mixture of one cup of bleach mixed with one gallon of water. Then clean it well. For porous surfaces, use 3% hydrogen peroxide.
- Commercial mold removal products are also available.
- Use an air purifier to remove mold spores from the air. Here’s our recommendation for the best air purifier for mold and mildew.
- Clean bathrooms regularly and remove any mold or mildew spots as soon as they appear.
- Use exhaust fans in the kitchen and bathrooms to remove moisture build-up. Open windows too if they’re available.
- Use anti-mold paints in basements and bathrooms where mold is most likely to grow.
If you do take action to clean up existing moldy surfaces, make sure to wear protective equipment over your eyes, nose, and mouth as some of these products may give off dangerous fumes and mold spores will scatter when cleaned.
Now you know how mold affects health, which people are most at risk, and simple ways for preventing mold in your home.
If you came here wondering how can mold affect you, you’ve learned that the most serious concern is ingesting mold while inhaling mold spores are not toxic but can lead to unhealthy symptoms.
We hope you enjoyed this guide and will consider adding one of the top air purifiers to your home to keep mold spores out of the air you breathe.