Indoor Mold: 5 Symptoms Of Mold Exposure
Have you been wheezing lately, or getting out of breath just taking the stairs? Or maybe you feel like youre constantly battling a headache that just wont go away. Symptoms of mold exposure can be similar to those of infections or other conditions. So diagnosis and treatment takes longer than it should. But take heed. Those exposed to mold can be between 30-50% more likely to develop asthma. They also suffer from other respiratory problems and bronchitis.
I Heard About Toxic Molds And Black Molds That Grow In Homes And Other Buildings Should I Be Concerned About A Serious Health Risk To Me And My Family
There is always a little mold everywhere in the air and on many surfaces.
Certain molds are toxigenic, meaning they can produce toxins . Hazards presented by molds that may produce mycotoxins should be considered the same as other common molds which can grow in your house. Not all fungi produce mycotoxins and even those that do will not do so under all surface or environmental conditions.
Mold growth, which often looks like spots, can be many different colors, and can smell musty. Color is not an indication of how dangerous a mold may be. Any mold should be removed and the moisture source that helped it grow should be removed.
There are very few reports that toxigenic molds found inside homes can cause unique or rare health conditions such as pulmonary hemorrhage or memory loss. These case reports are rare, and a causal link between the presence of the toxigenic mold and these conditions has not been proven.
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How Mold Testing Works
There are two different kinds of professional-grade tests that experts tend to utilize to look for mold infestations. Both of them involve taking a small sample of material, which is then analyzed in a lab for traces of mold spores or the presence of mycotoxins. Urine test kits, as their name implies, require a small volume of urine from a human . These kits are used to determine if a person has a mold infestation in their body.
Meanwhile, home test kits require a small amount of dust or detritus from a buildings air conditioning or heating unit filters. Its not uncommon for professional environmental inspectors or mold remediators to use both kits in tandem after experiencing water damage, as they provide differentbut equally crucialinformation.
There is a third type of mold testing kit on the market its the kind that folks frequently see in hardware and big-box stores. These kits are designed to detect mold spores in the air, and they usually consist of a petri dish filled with microbial growth medium. The dish is exposed to the air for a set period of time in order to collect samples, and then its sealed and allowed to incubate. The idea is that any mold spores captured by the dish will then grow, allowing them to be seen and studied.
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Finding A Mold Problem
MDH does not recommend mold testing in many cases, especially as the first response to an indoor air quality concern. Instead, careful detailed visual inspection and recognition of moldy odors should be used to find problems needing correction. Efforts should focus on areas where there are signs of liquid moisture or water vapor or where moisture problems are suspected. The investigation goals should be to locate indoor mold growth to determine how to correct the moisture problem and remove contamination safely and effectively.
What Is Mycotoxin Poisoning
The most serious problems caused by mold are caused by small molecules call mycotoxins, which are produced by mold when they feel threatened. Think of this like the ink an octopus produces or when a skunk sprays someone. For some mycotoxins, low levels are not problematic for most individuals.
These mycotoxins are found in low amounts in food. However, other mycotoxins such as the Trichothecenes are toxic in much smaller quantities, but only in water-damaged buildings, and they are much more toxic. Trichothecenes are produced by Stachybotrys, otherwise known as black mold.
There are multiple different health effects that are caused by mycotoxins, and these symptoms are influenced by genetics, sex, age of the patient. The number of mycotoxins patients absorbed and the type of mycotoxin also play a role in symptoms . However, common signs are chronic fatigue, ADHD, rashes, COPD, and depression. Less common symptoms include dementia, Parkinsons, and cancer. Mycotoxins also weaken the immune system, which leads to other secondary infections to occur .
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How Do You Know If Mold Is Making You Sick
Are you sick and suspect it might be from mold?
Determining whether exposure to mold is making you sick isnt always easy.
Each persons body is affected by mold toxicity in different ways. Some experience constant migraines and headaches, shortness of breath, brain fog, fatigue or even depression.
Since symptoms differ from person to person, they may not be quickly associated with mold exposure. Many people suffering from mold illness struggle to get a proper diagnosis and investigation.
Its common to think my house is clean it cant be mold! However, mold comes in many forms. In this article, well share what toxic mold is, the signs and symptoms, and how it can be treated.
A Qualified Environmental Lab Took Samples Of The Mold In My Home And Gave Me The Results Can Cdc Interpret These Results
Standards for judging what is an acceptable, tolerable or normal quantity of mold have not been established. Sampling for mold can be expensive, and standards for judging what is and what is not an acceptable quantity of mold have not been set. The best practice is to remove the mold and work to prevent future growth. If you do decide to pay for environmental sampling for molds, before the work starts, you should ask the consultants who will do the work to establish criteria for interpreting the test results. They should tell you in advance what they will do or what recommendations they will make based on the sampling results. The results of samples taken in your unique situation cannot be interpreted without physical inspection of the contaminated area or without considering the buildings characteristics and the factors that led to the present condition.
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Dont Let Mold Interfere With Restoring Your Health
Mold is everywhere in the environment. Indoor exposure to toxic mold can trigger inflammation and cause immune dysregulation that causes multiple symptoms in multiple systems of the body. This makes mold illness difficult to diagnose. Physicians rarely look for environmental causes of illness so they do not ask patients about exposures such as mold. If you are suffering from multiple chronic symptoms or have been diagnosed with Lyme disease, or an autoimmune or neurological condition without a known cause, find a physician with expertise in mold illness so you can get properly tested.
Increased Risk For Mold Growth
Buildings with flat roofs or basements, or that are built on hillsides or in shaded areas are at increased risk for mold growth. HVAC systems are also a significant source of mold growth, especially when ducting is in a basement. In addition, water damage can come from a leaking roof, pipe, or appliance such as a dishwasher, refrigerator, or wash machine. Buildings that are poorly maintained are much more susceptible to mold growth. Government buildings and schools, as well as rental apartments and homes, tend to be poorly maintained.
There are also circumstances when water damage to a home or building is apparent. A patient shared a story of a wall caving in under the pressure of a paint roller because the sheetrock was so damp from water damage. Others have reported discovering mold growing on a wall after removing a bed or a picture . I have seen patients who were exposed to mold in their car and at their place of work.
Current and past mold exposure can cause illness. People can continue to have elevated mycotoxins from a past mold exposure long after leaving a moldy environment.
However, most of the time, my patients are unaware they have been exposed to mold until they get tested. Once diagnosed with mold illness, people may recall a house they lived in years prior to their health decline had a musty odor. How about the dorm the college student lived in where the air conditioning unit was on all the time? When did their health decline?
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How To Know If You Have Black Mold In Your House
Mold isnt always visible. If you can see mold, its only a sign of the real potential health risk, which is the harmful types of unhealthy levels of mold in the air of your home or workplace.
Airborne mold is all around us in both the outdoors and indoors. The types and amount of mold is what determines the potential health risk. Most of us are typically accustomed to the varieties and amounts of mold present in our outdoor environments.
Healthy indoor environments will have mold conditions similar to or better than those in the surrounding outdoors. Over time, because of moisture , many indoor spaces develop unhealthy types and/or unhealthy levels of airborne mold that can be harmful to you or your pets.
These signs will help you know if you possibly have unhealthy mold conditions in your house:
- Allergic symptoms
- A damp or musty odor in one or more places
- Frequent headaches
- The air in the home feels different
- Your house has been flooded or currently has leaks
- You previously tried removing mold yourself
Take note of how you feel in and out of the house. If the symptoms disappear or decrease when youre out and about, then you might have a mold problem, yes, even if you cant see mold.
Limitations Of Mold Testing
There are many testing methods that can detect molds. They can be used to find mold particles suspended in air, in settled dust, or growing on surfaces of building materials and furnishings. Some methods can identify a portion of the types of live molds in a sampled environment, but these may also miss or undercount those are not live or wont grow well on the nutrients used to incubate the sample. Other methods are better able to characterize the total amount of molds in a sample , but not very good for identifying the specific types of molds. Even tests that are done well only give a partial estimate of the amount and types of molds actually collected in a sample or in the sampled environment.
Despite these limitations, there are situations where mold testing by skilled investigators may be valuable for example, to justify remediation expenses or to document that cleanup has met expectations. In some cases, tests can also provide clues that may help find hidden mold, but the growth still has to be found by looking for it so that it can be removed. Experienced investigators should evaluate whether testing is warranted and if they are ethical, they should advise against testing whenever the problem can be corrected without it. Testing may be useful as part of an investigation, but it is never a substitute for a thorough visual inspection.
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How To Prevent Mold
Whether you just got rid of the mold or you dont ever want to see it in your house you need to know the mold prevention rules. To prevent mold from appearing in your house:
Small investments in prevention can go long waysand keep a lot of cash in your pocket!
Where Is Mold Found
Mold is found all over the world. It can grow on and in buildings and also outdoors. Although mold can exist in a variety of places, it grows especially well in damp, moist environments. Your walls, furniture, floors, carpets, and other areas of your home can contain mold. Kitchens, bathrooms, and other damp places are especially likely to have mold. Mold is common everywhere, and people are exposed to it every day.
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Reasons To Do Mold Clearance Testing
Testing an environment where mold exposure has occurred after cleanup to ensure that levels remain low is necessary to be sure that the remediation process is complete. Even after cleanup is over, it is often necessary to adjust indoor conditions to make it less likely that any spores that remain present will resume growth.
When a residential or commercial property owner is regularly cleaning mold-prone surfaces, contents and materials and maintaining low humidity levels indoors, a clearance test can determine whether these measures are sufficient to keep mold infestations at bay. If spore or mVOC levels remain elevated, additional remediation measures, including tearing out and replacing contaminated building materials or replacing contents, may be necessary to solve a persistent mold problem.
How To Treat Mold Exposure
The results of your mold exposure tests will determine what steps your physician takes to treat your condition. Lifestyle changes can make a difference to your condition if you are facing problems with mold exposure. The first step you should look to take is to remove all the mold from your home to limit your exposure. When your physician has proven you are allergic to specific forms of black mold, you should take the necessary steps to remove it from your environment.
There are several options to consider if you are concerned about your level of mold exposure. Firstly, you should look for mold in the corners of your living area and underneath the wallpaper. If you discover an area of black mold covering more than ten feet in area, you should contact a professional cleaning service. Alongside making changes to your lifestyle, you can try to use over-the-counter medications to limit your symptoms. You should be aware, the long-term use of over-the-counter medications is not a solution to your problems, but it will relieve the symptoms while you look for the cause of your allergies. When you provide a blood sample to check for mold exposure, your physician is looking for mycotoxins in your body.
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Symptoms Of Mold Exposure
Most people are unaware exposure to mold can cause serious illness. Even worse, most physicians are not familiar with mold illness or the symptoms of mold exposure, so it is rarely considered as a diagnosis. If mold is suspected, a physician may test the patient for mold allergies or suggest they have allergies to some inhalant but mold illness is much more. Symptoms of mold exposure are very similar to Lyme disease, and it is not uncommon for these conditions to occur simultaneously.
Someone can test positive for mold allergies and experience mold toxicity at the same time. However, in mold toxicity, systemic immune dysregulation, and subsequent inflammation are the underlying features that drive symptoms.
How Common Is Mold In Buildings
Molds are very common in buildings and homes. Mold will grow in places with a lot of moisture, such as around leaks in roofs, windows, or pipes, or where there has been flooding. Mold grows well on paper products, cardboard, ceiling tiles, and wood products. Mold can also grow in dust, paints, wallpaper, insulation, drywall, carpet, fabric, and upholstery.
The most common indoor molds are Cladosporium, Penicillium, and Aspergillus. We do not have precise information about how often different molds are found in buildings and homes.
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Who Is Most At Risk For Health Problems Associated With Exposure To Mold
People with allergies may be more sensitive to molds. People with immune suppression or underlying lung disease are more susceptible to fungal infections. Individuals with chronic respiratory disease may experience difficulty breathing. Individuals with immune suppression are at increased risk for infection from molds. If you or your family members have these conditions, a qualified medical clinician should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment.
How Do You Get The Molds Out Of Buildings Including Homes Schools And Places Of Employment
Mold growing in homes and buildings indicates that there is a problem with water or moisture. This is the first problem to address.
Remove moldy items from living areas. Once mold starts to grow in carpet, insulation, ceiling tiles, drywall, or wallboard, the only way to deal with the problem is by removal and replacement.
It is important to properly clean and dry the area as you can still have an allergic reaction to parts of the dead mold and mold contamination may recur if there is still a source of moisture.
Remove or replace carpets and upholstery that have been soaked and cannot be dried promptly.
Clean up and dry out your home thoroughly and quickly after any flooding. Dig out mud and dirt . Use a wet vacuum to remove remaining dirt. Scrub cleanable surfaces with soapy water and a bristle brush. Thoroughly clean all hard surfaces with water and dish detergent. Dry surfaces quickly and thoroughly after cleaning. If you have a fan, air conditioner or dehumidifier that wasnt affected by flooding use it to help the surfaces dry after you finish cleaning
Mold growth can be removed from hard surfaces with commercial products, soap and water, or a bleach solution of no more than 1 cup of bleach in 1 gallon of water to kill mold on surfaces. Never mix bleach with ammonia or other household cleaners.
If you choose to use bleach to clean up mold:
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