When Should You Test Your Home For Mold Exposure
According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency , if visible mold is present on inspection, testing is usually unnecessary. There are no Environmental Protection Agency or government standards that have been established for mold or mold spore levels, so it is impossible to prove that a building or room complies with any health regulations concerning mold exposure. Likewise, the CDC does not recommend routine sampling and testing of mold in the home. Health officials haven’t defined tolerable or acceptable limits of mold exposure for humans, and since individuals vary in their susceptibility to mold, testing cannot reliably predict the degree of health risks from any occurrence of mold.
When mold has previously been identified and cleanup procedures have been undertaken, sampling and testing may be carried out if necessary by qualified professionals to determine that adequate cleaning of a building has occurred.
What Are The Symptoms Of Mold Inhalation
Walking into a room where the mold spore count is high could have a significant effect on your response system. For those who have an allergic reaction to mold spores, the response is more immediate. These individuals may experience watery or itchy eyes, a runny nose, redness around the eyes, shortness of breath, or wheezing. Persistent exposure can create a nagging cough, asthma, or frequent sinusitis. As these symptoms sound much like the common cold or seasonal allergies, it can often be hard to narrow down the culprit as mold exposure.
As symptoms and severity are different for every person, it is difficult to say how long the symptoms will persist. Generally, the length of exposure, the type of mold that an individual has been exposed to, and the bodys natural health and detox process impact how long a person may struggle with a mold illness. Natural detoxing can see symptoms subside in a few days, particularly if the source of mold is eliminated or the individual leaves the environment where the mold is present.
When To See Your Doctor
See your doctor if you experience any of the above symptoms, especially if these symptoms last for more than a few days and dont respond to typical over-the-counter treatments or home remedies. If you think you have a respiratory infection, like bronchitis or pneumonia, you need to see your doctor as soon as possible.
Let your doctor know if you think your symptoms might be a result of mold poisoning. It wont always affect treatment, but sometimes it may. If your doctor thinks mold is causing or contributing to your symptoms, he or she will probably recommend having the mold removed from the home as soon as possible. Treatment may be of limited effectiveness if you continue to be exposed to mold.
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The Root Cause Of Mold Problems
Here are common sources of mold growth in an indoor space:
Moist air makes it easier for mold to multiply. A damp basement or a humid bathroom can create spores that spread to the rest of the house. Purchasing a dehumidifier and keeping levels around 30-50 percent may be helpful in preventing mold growth. A poorly ventilated bathroom can be a source of high humidity. Using a ventilation fan during showering and for at least 30 minutes may be helpful.
Poorly sealed windows, gaps in walls, improper flashing
Doors windows and walls will all need to be sealed properly to prevent water intrusion.
Common places include under bathroom and kitchen sinks. Wet carpeted areas may need to be removed to prevent mold and bacteria growth.
All leaks need to be fixed as soon as possible. It only takes 24-48 hours for mold to begin to grow from a water source.
Keep a regular maintenance and cleaning schedule for air conditioning and heating. They can be a source of spreading spores.
During winter, the warm indoor air can hit the cold window and create condensation. This in turn can cause mold growth on wooden window sills.
And other sources
This list isnt exhaustive. Mold can commonly be seen throughout a home: in fireplaces, mattresses and bathtubs, just to name a few.
How To Tell If Mold Is Toxic
Mold is a nasty problem to deal with for any home or business-owner. In the wake of a disaster such as a storm, its possible for mold to start growing in as quickly as 1-2 days. Whats even more alarming is when that mold turns out to be toxic, posing a serious risk to you and anyone else on your property.
To clarify, its not that the mold you are dealing with in and of itself is toxic. Its that certain strains of mold, like the notorious Stachybotrys chartarummore commonly known as black moldproduce mycotoxins. Its these mycotoxins which may cause a burning sensation in the throat and lungs, chest pain, persistent coughing, fever, rashes, and migraines. Prolonged exposure to Stachybotrys may lead to serious health issues, including breathing problems, fatigue, sinusitis and other pain in the sinus cavities, and even depression.
How to tell if you may be dealing with toxic mold in your home:
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What To Do Next
If you suspect you may have a problem with mold, I suggest the following steps.
Step 2. Test your home for mold. One of the best tests is called an ERMI, and I suggest that you hire an environmental professional to perform a visual inspection of your home and sample several rooms. You can perform an ERMI on your own at a lower price but its only helpful if its positive, in which case youll need to hire an environmental professional. So I suggest skip the self-testing.
Step 3. Work with a clinician trained in the Shoemaker Protocol. on how to find one. You may consider the genetic susceptibility test for mold, which can be performed by Labcorp, panel # 167120.
In the next part of this series on mold illness, Ill describe what happened when I tested my own home for mold. Then Ill address remediation and whats proven to help a person heal from mold illness.
Do you have symptoms of mold illness? Do you know or suspect you live in a water-damaged building? We would love to hear your story. Let me know in the comments below.
What Are The Treatments For Mold Exposure
The first step in treating problems with mold exposure is to avoid the environment where the triggers are located. In short, the mold problem needs to be taken care of completely. If not, you will simply be managing the symptoms. It is also difficult to completely avoid any mold exposure, which means some medications or therapies will ease the symptoms rather than offer a cure. However, in conjunction with your physician, you should be able to enjoy an improved quality of life once you have had the mold removed and your immune system set back on track. Here are some of the treatments or medications that are used to address mold exposure.
Lifestyle changes may also need to be made for an individual to recover from mold poison. The primary consideration is removing the source of the toxin, either through mold remediation and cleanup or by taking yourself out of the environment. If you have found mold in your home, dont delay in having it removed. With a serious allergy to the substance, it isnt advised that you undertake the cleaning on your own. Professional help is advised if you want to thoroughly remove the contaminant without making the problem worse.
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How Quickly Can Mold Make You Sick
There are several types of fungi that can be found in your house, down in the basement, or in the attic. Mold develops when the perfect environment is created, which is usually a combination of moisture, humidity, and organic material. Spores can migrate away from thriving colonies through the air, landing on shoes, blankets, showerheads, or your HVAC ductwork. As it spreads, it releases toxic chemicals called mycotoxins. These are the molecules that lead to illness.
Mold toxicity is considered a biotoxin illness, also called Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome. In this severe condition, there is a systemic inflammatory response that occurs after an individual has had intense exposure to toxigenic organisms. These organisms can include bacteria, mycobacterium, fungi, actinomycetes, and other inflammagens. It is common for people to suffer from an illness brought on by living conditions where water damage has occurred, and many of these individuals are unable to develop an antibody or immune response to mold toxins.
Almost everyone will experience some form of illness or response when their bodies are exposed to high enough levels of biotoxins, though each individual has a unique threshold or tolerance. There is no exact timeline for how soon a person will develop symptoms of mold exposure, but as mold spores rapidly multiply, individuals may experience certain discomforts within just a few hours of entering a mold-laden environment.
What Happens When You Inhale Mold
Breathing in mold spores is the most common way for mold spores to enter your system. Individual spores, unlike colonies of growth, are invisible to the naked eye. This makes it nearly impossible to know if you are ingesting spores into your nasal passages and letting them take root down in your lungs. Though mold will grow on old or decaying food, most people wont purposely eat a rotten tomato or moldy piece of bread. Penicillin is a form of mold that can be ingested, but this only occurs under the guidance of a physician for anti-microbial and wellness purposes. Toxicity levels are more likely to occur through inhaling the spores and creating a buildup that the body can no longer fight.
The body commonly processes toxins out of the body when it eliminates waste. Mold spores arent the only toxins your body has to eliminate, but inhaling heavy doses of mold spores can put a burden on the bodys natural toxin elimination system. When the toxic load gets too high, the body cant detox. Instead, the mycotoxins may be recycled back into the body or reabsorbed until the body can try again. The toxic threshold varies by individual.
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Common Signs Of Toxic Mold Poisoning
Symptoms and signs of mycotoxins poisoning are very different depending on many factors. How this poisoning presents itself depends on:
- Type of mycotoxin
- Genetic structure
- And others
This means there can be a major difference in symptoms between individuals in the population exposed to it. To some extent it is clear that mycotoxicosis can increase susceptibility to infections, worsen the effect of other toxins present and advance other health conditions.
Although acute poisoning is more obvious and sometimes has grave effects, chronic exposure is much more present in the population in general. Finally, mycotoxins can cause changes in immune, nervous system, behavior, mood and even development problems like stunting.
The other way that molds can affect your health is through allergy and IgE-mediated pathways. Mold can introduce multiple different types of antigens to your system. One of the main antigens involved is mold spores. Mold can lead to asthma, hypersensitivity reactions, and pulmonary inflammatory disease.
There are many different variants that could cause a patient to have one reaction compared to another. One of these factors is the human leukocyte antigen patterns. Another likely significant factor is the glutathione transferase genes. One study found that polymorphism in GSTP1 influenced illness and treatment after exposure to water-damaged buildings.
What Are The Symptoms Of Mold Exposure
Mold allergies are progressive. The more contact you have, the more likely you are to experience severe symptoms.
In some instances, no symptoms or only vague symptoms of mold exposure may occur. These can go unnoticed, especially in babies.
Even without immediate, noticeable symptoms, long-term health effects, such as asthma, have been associated with mold. Its not currently known whether this is a direct cause of mold or merely an association.
Mold may cause:
- skin irritation
- sporotrichosis, a skin infection that starts out as a small pink, red, or purple bump on the skin
- itchy, red eyes
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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.
How Can You Be Exposed To Black Mold
You can be exposed to black mold, or any species of mold, by breathing in microscopic mold particles in the air, or through consumption of food that contains it.
Stachybotrys is unique because its spores are sticky and easily adhere to a surface when the mold colony dries. They are not regularly found in the air unless the mold colony has been disturbed. Though its spores are not readily airborne, black mold can produce other harmful contaminants more easily found in the air .
A disruption to a black mold colony can be as simple as slamming a door, opening a window or knocking into contaminated furniture. More force is required for Stachybotrys spores to become airborne, as compared to other commonly found indoor molds .
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Signs You Might Have Toxic Mold In Your Home
You might have a hidden houseguest thats making your family sick. Like any uninvited guest, they overstay their welcome, make a mess of the place, and stink up the joint. This nuisance likes to hang out in places in the house that no person wants to be in and makes itself at home. Black mold is a scourge to homes and people alike and can have adverse effects on your health. Mold is common in homes, especially in dark and damp places. Some you can easily see, making it easy to get rid of. Other forms of mold hide from sight, but they leave hints that clue you in. Know the signs you might have toxic mold in your home so you can be rid of it. While you can try to remove it yourself, if its in a tough spot or you just dont want to deal with it, there are black mold removal experts that will do it for you. The team at Aloha Restoration has the experience and technical know-how to remove the black mold and make sure it doesnt come back.
Test Your Environment For Mold
Testing your environmenthome or workplacefor mold can be very beneficial since the symptoms of mold-related illness can be similar to other chronic inflammatory conditions such as Lyme.
There are different avenues you may take to address mold testing. Options exist for both professional testing and for self-testing.
DIY Mold Testing
There are pros and cons to each so a combination of these may be used:
Find a Qualified Indoor Environmental Professionals for Inspection
An indoor environmental professional knowledgeable about the effects of mold on sensitive populations can be helpful. Their trained eyes and tools can be helpful in identifying the source of your mold. Here are tips for finding a qualified mold inspector:
- Be sure the professional offers just inspection, not inspection with remediation to avoid conflicts of interest.
- Consider a virtual or phone consultation with indoor professionals aligned with the International Society for Environmentally Acquired Illness and their standards for indoor health.
- Look for a local IEP through ACAC.org
- Find inspection professionals with the CIEC and CMC certifications.
- Find remediation professionals with the CMRS and CMR certifications.
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Can Mold Harm My Health
Most types of mold do not harm people. In fact, doctors use some varieties to improve health. For instance, penicillin is a useful mold that has saved many peoples lives. However, not all molds are beneficial. In fact, people often develop health issues when they come into contact with harmful species of molds.
If you are in an environment with a large mold presence, you may breathe in mold spores. The antigens in these spores can enter your body and cause a variety of harmful health conditions.
How Can You Detox From Mold
In addition to removing yourself from the environment where the mold is or having the mold removed, you can help your body detox the spores that have been inhaled and trapped inside. You can take supplements to build up your immune system, reestablish your gut health, and reduce inflammation:
Rather than trying to handle mold exposure on your own, you should consider seeing a physician. The situation may be more serious than you think.
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