Reducing your risk of exposure to mold
The thought of having mold in your home is not a pleasant one. Yet many homes have mold growing in places they’d rather not think about – shower curtains, house siding, or maybe basement walls.
Mold can grow in any color and thrives in damp, warm, humid places, sprouting up year-round. While it can be unsightly and disturbing to know it may be sharing your house with you, the main problem with mold is if you’re exposed to it, you and your family could develop breathing problems, from mild to severe.
If the mold is a fungus that reproduces through spores, it can be responsible for breathing problems in almost anyone. Upper respiratory tract symptoms – coughing and wheezing – in otherwise healthy people, could be linked to mold. Research has suggested that the development of asthma in children, could have a potential link to early mold exposure. However, mold-induced breathing problems are generally temporary with symptoms fading with less exposure to the fungus.
Why does mold cause health problems?
Mold spores can produce a chemical called mycotoxins which can cause allergic reactions leading to infection, hypersensitivity disorders, breathing problems, organ damage, mental impairment or even death in rare cases.
When these spores are introduced to the body, the spores irritate and created a burning sensation in the nose, mouth, and throat. The mold spores can also cause burning and bleeding if they become lodged in the mucus membrane such as in the sinus and lungs.
Symptoms associated with mold exposure
Symptoms of mold exposure can vary from person to person from being mild to severe. Those at greatest risk of developing health problems are children, older adults and immune-compromised individuals.
Symptoms can include:
· Sore throat
· Bleeding gums
· Runny, itchy, or stuffy nose
· Nose bleeds
· Difficulty breathing
· Wheezing, coughing, swelling of the lungs
· Bleeding into the lungs
Some people who are exposed to mold may develop a rare inflammatory lung disease called hypersensitivity pneumonitis. This disease can be cause by mold exposure with symptoms that include cough, difficulty breathing and fever.
How to minimize your risk
The first thing to remember is that mold grows best in warm, damp, humid places. When outdoors, you will likely find mold in shady, damp areas or where leaves or other vegetation are breaking down. Indoors, mold grows in high-humidity locations such as basements and showers.
Anyone prone to breathing problems should consider avoiding long stays in antique shops, greenhouses, saunas, farms, mills, construction areas, flower shops, and summer cottages.
Other ways to minimize your exposure to mold, include the following:
· Use an air conditioner or dehumidifier to keep humidity levels below 50 percent at all times and check the humidity level at least once a day as humidity changes with temperature shifts.
· Be sure your home is adequately ventilated and if you have exhaust fans, use them.
· Use paints fortified with mold inhibitors.
· Use mold-killing bathroom cleaning products, such as bleach.
· Don’t carpet bedrooms or bathrooms
· Remove or replace carpets and upholstery that have gotten soaked through