Your home could be making you sick – and you might not even know it. From bathrooms to basements, many areas of our home feature prime growing conditions for mold. Although some molds are benign or even beneficial – penicillin, for example, is produced from mold – most molds have a range of adverse health effects that could be contributing to a lower standard of living at home. Don’t live with mold! Discover the negative health effects of mold, and learn more about how you can prevent and treat household mold.
How Mold Affects Our Health
A little moisture and poor ventilation is all it takes for toxic mold to surface. As a fungi, mold release spores into the air – up to as many as hundreds or thousands of spores per square foot. As a living organism, mold produces a number of active biocompounds, including mycotoxins, highly toxic substances that are easily absorbed by the linings of the respiratory system, intestines and skin and can lead to DNA damage.
As mold spores are naked to the human eye, you could be breathing in mold every day and never know that you’re being exposed to it. Common symptoms of mold exposure include coughing, shortness of breath, sinus problems, headaches, rashes and joint pain. On a more serious level, long-term or extreme exposure to mold can result in a weakened and suppressed immune system; neurological issues such as tremors, lack of coordination and numbness; liver damage; and kidney toxicity.
The Three Types of Mold
Mold falls under three categories, each with different impacts on health:
- Allergenic molds affect people with asthma or mold allergies. Even someone without an existing mold allergy can develop one through chronic exposure. People with mold allergies may also experience more severe symptoms from other classes of mold, especially if they have other health complications.
- Pathogenic molds affect the respiratory and immune systems. Most healthy people can fight off pathogenic mold infections, but this type of mold is a major health issue for infants, young children, the elderly, smokers and those with chronic illness.
- Toxigenic molds are the most dangerous type and can trigger severe symptoms in everyone. These molds can damage brain function, cause heart trouble, lead to severe depression and even affect basic movement.
How to Prevent Mold Growth
Mold can take on virtually any color, but is easily distinguished by its musty odor. But mold doesn’t just appear spontaneously. Like most living organisms, mold requires nutrients, water and an ideal environment to grow. If you remove these factors, you can stop mold growth before it happens.
Make sure your walls are properly insulated, bathrooms well-ventilated, carpets dry and humidity levels low. Store food safely in the refrigerator or freezer, and don’t leave food out overnight. Inspect your pipes for leaks and clean up spills immediately. Use a vacuum with a HEPA filter, which traps mold and other allergens.
Consider using a hygrometer to keep track of indoor humidity. Safe levels range from 30 to 55 percent. Fresh air and sunlight hinder mold growth, so open your windows whenever you have a chance.
For more on how to beat toxic household mold, check out Sunlighten friend and advocate Dave Asprey’s article “Top 11 Ways to Beat Toxic Mold In Your Home And Life.”
How to Remove Existing Mold
If you notice a few spots of mold, a home remedy can solve the problem. A mixture of 2 teaspoons tea tree oil or white distilled vinegar with 2 cups water will eradicate most mold growths. For larger problems or if you find black, greenish or yellowish mold, hire a professional.