Mold Health Risks

by J on January 28, 2010

Most of us strive to make our homes safe places to be. We lock the doors, and some of us use alarm systems to protect our families from intruders. However, one type of intruder we need to be watchful of may already be in our house:  mold.

All homes have mold spores in them. Water, air and insects spread them, but usually this small amount isn’t a problem. However, when the conditions are right, mold can proliferate–and that’s when it becomes dangerous. We’ve all heard the horror stories of families having to abandon new homes because they were built improperly and overtaken by mold. Fortunately, most of us won’t have to deal with that, but we do need to be aware of the existence of mold and how it can affect our health.

If you have mold, you should be able to tell. You will either be able to see it as black spots or as fuzzy growth, which gets bigger as it grows, or you will be able to smell it. Mold has a telltale musty smell. If the mold is growing underneath something, you won’t be able to see it, but you will be able to smell it.

If you suspect that mold may be making you sick, look through this checklist. The New York State Department of Health lists some common symptoms of mold exposure.

  • Nasal and sinus congestion
  • Eye irritation
  • Respiratory problems, such as wheezing and breathing difficulties
  • Coughing
  • Throat irritation
  • Skin irritation, such as a rash
  • Headache

However, mold can cause far more serious problems for people who have asthma, allergies or emphysema or those with compromised immune systems due to HIV/AIDS, chemotherapy or transplant patients. So, it is important to be vigilant about eradicating mold when you find it. If you suspect you have a problem, call an expert to conduct mold testing.

Certain areas of the home such as bathrooms, kitchens and basements are more apt to contain mold because of their high moisture content. The New York State Department of Health recommends frequent checks and routine cleaning of the following areas because of their susceptibility to mold:  the refrigerator door seal, shower curtains, window moldings, shower stalls and bathroom tiles and surfaces on and around air conditioners. Naturally, if your home is flooded, be sure to watch for signs of mold after you have cleaned up the area.

Attempt to clean up only small areas of mold and consult a health department for proper instructions. If you have a large infestation, or suspect a large problem, you must call in a mold remediation expert, because it is too dangerous to do yourself.

Remember that acting quickly when you have a small outbreak of mold can keep this intruder from becoming a big problem.

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