Molds can produce a variety of allergenic substances, odorous chemicals, and toxic metabolites. When it multiplies and spreads indoors, high levels of mold can cause a spectrum of health effects.
- People are mainly exposed to mold by inhaling spores and skin/eye contact — actively-growing mold also releases chemicals to the air which people breathe
- Tolerance/susceptibility to molds varies in the population. Health impacts can vary greatly from person to person.
- Allergic symptoms are the most common problems (e.g., mucous membrane irritation, rhinitis, and rashes)
- More severe effects (e.g., asthma attacks, hypersensitivity pneumonitis, infections, or toxic reactions) may also occur
- Individuals who are more susceptible to include those with:
- Newborn children
- The elderly and the very young
- Compromised immune system
- Respiratory problems
Molds are usually not a problem indoors, unless mold spores land on a wet or damp spot and begin growing, Molds have the potential to cause health problems. Molds produce allergens (substances that can cause allergic reactions), irritants, and in some cases potentially toxic substances (mycotocins). Inhaling or touching mold or mold spores may cause allergic reactions in sensitive individuals. Allergic responses include hay fever-type symptoms, such as sneezing, runny nose, red eyes, and skin rash (dermatitis).
Allergic reactions to mold are common. They can be immediate or delayed. Molds can also cause asthma attacks in people with asthma who are allergic to mold. In addition, mold exposure can irritate the eyes, skin, nose, throat and lungs of both mold-allergic and non-allergic people. Symptoms other than the allergic and irritant types are not commonly reported as a result of inhaling mold.
Research on mold and health effects is ongoing. This page provides a brief overview; it does not describe all the potential health effects related to mold exposure. For more detailed information consult a health professional. You may also wish to consult your state or local health department.
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Conclusions and Recommendations
Prudent public health practice then indicates removal from exposure through clean up or remediation, and public education about the potential for harm. Not all species within these genera are toxigenic, but it is prudent to assume that when these molds are found in excess indoors that they are treated as though they are toxin producing. It is not always cost effective to measure toxicity, so cautious practice regards the potential for toxicity as serious, aside from other health effects associated with excessive exposure to molds and their products. It is unwise to wait to take action until toxicity is determined after laboratory culture, especially since molds that are toxic in their normal environment may lose their toxicity in laboratory monoculture over time and therefore may not be identified as toxic. While testing for toxins is useful for establishing etiology of disease, and adds to knowledge about mold toxicity in the indoor environment, prudent public health practice might advise speedy clean-up, or removal of a heavily exposed populations from exposure as a first resort.
**WARNING** – DO NOT attempt to remove mold on your own, it could make the situation much worse! Disturbing mold can cross-contaminate your home or business and can increase the risks to persons in the area!
**NOTE** – Mold Remediation and/or Water Damage Restoration / Mitigation is most likely covered by your Home or Business Insurance policy. Contact one of our remediation experts for complete details and a free consultation.
Mold can be a health hazard to many people. The young & elderly are especially susceptible to the dangers of mold. If you’ve had a recent flood, you should have your home checked for mold.