Purchase A Mold Test Kit
There are several mold test kits you can purchase online. Many are simply tests that tell you whether or not you have mold, and wont specify which type is present if applicable.
For this reason, if you get a positive test kit and youve tried the above steps as well, you should then proceed with the next suggestion.
Mold Could Thrive In Your Home
It is estimated that half of the buildings in the United States may be WDB, meaning water-damaged buildings. Construction techniques in the U.S. turn out to be a feast and buffet for mold and fungal organisms. Our homes here are often built of wood and drywall rather than stone or brick as in Europe. Mold and fungi thrive on drywall, wood, and other soft materials.
Mold thrives in dark and moist environments and doesnt take much water to get the process going. A small drip from a leaky toilet, shower, or sink is all it takes. Small roof leaks are also common causes. If you see a stain on the ceiling or the wall there is very likely an associated hidden mold growth. This is not the type of mold that you see on the shower wall, but rather it is lurking behind the walls and in air ducts, crawl spaces, attics, and other areas.
Exposure Sources And Prevention
The primary sources of mold exposure are from the indoor air in buildings with substantial mold growth and the ingestion of food with mold growths.
While mold and related microbial agents can be found both inside and outside, specific factors can lead to significantly higher levels of these microbes, creating a potential health hazard. Several notable factors are water damage in buildings, the use of building materials which provide a suitable substrate and source of food to amplify mold growth, relative humidity, and energy-efficient building designs, which can prevent proper circulation of outside air and create a unique ecology in the built environment. A common issue with mold hazards in the household can be the placement of furniture, resulting in a lack of ventilation of the nearby wall. The simplest method of avoiding mold in a home so affected is to move the furniture in question.
Prevention of mold exposure and its ensuing health issues begins with the prevention of mold growth in the first place by avoiding a mold-supporting environment. Extensive flooding and water damage can support extensive mold growth. Following hurricanes, homes with greater flood damage, especially those with more than 3 feet of indoor flooding, demonstrated far higher levels of mold growth compared with homes with little or no flooding.
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Apply A Bleach Solution
Maybe youve noticed a dark spot on your wall. Is it dirty, or is it mold?
Youll want to make a bleach solution of 1 part bleach and 16 parts water. Now dip a clean cloth in the solution and dab it on the spot.
If the spot quickly disappears after you dab it, it might be mold. If the spot keeps coming back after repeated application of the bleach solution, then its very likely that youve got mold.
The Hidden Dangers Of Black Mold
Physical signs of mold exposure can range from itchy, water eyes to asthma and airway problems. The body reacts to a mold that may not otherwise be toxic by exhibiting allergy-related symptoms, such as an irritated throat, coughing, or a runny nose. For some people, the reaction may be more severe, causing nausea, fatigue, sinus infections or trouble breathing. In more extreme cases, fungus can produce volatile organic compounds, which can affect the central nervous system and cause headaches, dizziness, difficulty concentrating and decreased attention span, according to www.toxic-black-mold-info.com. The Environmental Protection Agency also has information on mold and how to combat it and protect yourself and your home.Documentation of the dangers of mold, the result of studies being undertaken by countries around the world, is pointing toward an increase in the prevalence of the health problems mold can cause, particularly in children.
The Mold You BreatheMethods for Preventing and Dealing With Mold
Are You A Clean Freak?
It’s easy to spot a clean freak when you see one in action. What’s not so easy is recognizing the signs of compulsive obsession with cleanliness when you’re the one who’s obsessing. Having a clean house doesn’t mean that you are a clean freak.
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What About Tiny Mold Toxins Aka Mycotoxins
As mentioned above, though the Stachybotrys spores may be sticky and not easily airborne, there are other airborne contaminants to worry about: tiny fragments of mold and special toxins called mycotoxins. These contaminants may cause illness in those who are exposed, with mycotoxins being the most concerning.
You can think about mycotoxins as the molds defense: they are used for protection from environmental threats. Mycotoxins are minute organic compounds as small as 0.03 microns. These tiny molecules can stick to particles already floating through the air. Studies have found Stachybotrys mycotoxins on mold fragments that have broken off from a mold colony after it has been disturbed . This can be harmfulairborne particles less than 1.0 microns are easily breathed into the respiratory system, where they can cause irritation and potential allergic reactions. If this occurs, mycotoxins could accumulate onto local tissue and ultimately enter the bloodstream. The study by Brasel cited above showed that trichothecenes could be measured in the blood of people exposed to an indoor environment that had Stachybotrys.
Stachybotrys creates a class of mycotoxins referred to as trichothecenes. Trichothecenes have been widely studied and have been proven to be detrimental to the health of humans, animals and plants. In fact, trichothecenes have been investigated for the purpose of biological warfare needless to say, they are not something to which you want to be exposed.
What Medical Tests Are Available To Determine If I Am Allergic Tomold
There are medical tests to determine if you are allergic to a particularsubstance, such as mold. These can be performed on skin or blood. Skin testsare considered more reliable than blood tests to determine allergic reaction toa substance. Skin tests yield results more quickly, are less expensive thanblood tests and are generally considered more sensitive. If an individual hassymptoms year-round, which may indicate an indoor allergy, skin testing may berecommended.
Blood testing called the RAST test can be done to showif you are allergic to a substance. The RAST test detects levels of antibodiesto particular allergens. The test is expensive to perform and results areusually not available for about two weeks.
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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.
Testing For Mould In Your Home
Where mould is visible, it is generally not considered necessary to test for it in the home. However, not all mould is visible, as contamination may be in cavities or the ceiling. Generally, if you can see or smell mould, you need to clean up and remove the mould immediately, as mould can damage surfaces it grows on.
If you suspect mould contamination but cannot find the source of the problem, or if you have already taken measures to prevent mould from growing and you are still having problems, you could employ an occupational hygienist or environmental health and safety professional. For a fee, these professionals can provide specialist mould testing and consultancy services.
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How To Minimize Your Risk
To know how to protect yourself, start by knowing where mold spores thrive. Besides growing best in warm, damp, humid spots. Outside, youll find mold in shady, damp areas or where leaves or other vegetation break down. Inside, mold grows in high-humidity locations, such as basements and showers, she says.
If you are prone to breathing problems, such as asthma, you should consider limiting exposure to damp, humid areas such as basements and saunas, she says.
Here are other things you can do to minimize your mold exposure risk:
- Use an air conditioner or dehumidifier to keep humidity levels below 50% at all times.
- Check the humidity level in your home at least once a day because humidity changes with temperature shifts.
- Be sure your home is adequately ventilated. If you have exhaust fans, use them especially when you shower.
- Use paints fortified with mold inhibitors.
- Use mold-killing bathroom cleaning products, such as bleach.
- Dont carpet bedrooms or bathrooms. If you own your home and can afford to, remove carpeting from your home and replace with another surface, such as laminate tile, thats easy to clean.
- Remove or replace carpets and upholstery that have gotten wet or soaked through in the past as these are breeding grounds for mold spores.
Find Optimal Health And Wellness
If youre dealing with mysterious symptoms that you think could be related to mold exposure, dont lose hope. Contact us for an appointment and an individualized treatment plan to help you regain optimal health and wellness.
1. Mold General Information: Facts about Stachybotrys chartarum CDC.. Accessed 6 Aug. 2019.
2. Mold General Information: Facts about Stachybotrys chartarum CDC.. Accessed 6 Aug. 2019.
3. Molds, Mycotoxins and More | Surviving Mold.. Accessed 6 Aug. 2019.
4. The role and abatement of fungal allergens in allergic diseases .. Accessed 6 Aug. 2019.
5. Bacterial amplification and in-place carpet drying: implications NCBI.. Accessed 6 Aug. 2019.
6. Indoor Air Quality Explained | Welcome to Austin Air.. Accessed 6 Aug. 2019.
7. Mixed mold mycotoxicosis: immunological changes in humans NCBI.. Accessed 6 Aug. 2019.
8. Structural brain abnormalities in patients with inflammatory NCBI. 17 Jun. 2014, . Accessed 6 Aug. 2019.
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How Can Mold Affect My Health
Many molds can cause health effects. Molds produce allergens, irritants and,sometimes, toxins that may cause adverse reactions in humans. A reaction tomold depends on how much a person is exposed to, the age of the person and thepersons sensitivities or allergies. The same amount of mold may causehealth effects in one person, but not in another.
Exposure to mold can cause a variety of symptoms. Sensitive people who havetouched or inhaled mold or mold spores may have allergic reactions such as arunny nose, sneezing, nasal congestion, watery eyes, skin rash and itching. Molds can trigger asthma attacks in people who are allergic tomolds, causing wheezing, chest tightness and shortness of breath. A diseaselike pneumonia may also develop after exposure to mold, but this is uncommon.
Infectious diseases from molds can occur in people with weakened immunesystems, such as those who are immune-compromised or immune-suppressed fromdrug treatment. Some types of mold are known to cause infections inimmune-compromised people. Such infections can affect the skin, eyes, lungs orother organs. These are considered opportunistic infections that usually do notaffect healthy people.
What To Tell Your Doctor
If you have symptoms, and youve been exposed to mold at work, on a trip or at home, you should consult your doctor immediately, Dr. Ibrahim says. Tell your provider all that you can about the mold and the location.
Be sure to mention all symptoms you may have, no matter how trivial they may seem. There are no insignificant symptoms when youre being evaluated for a new problem, Dr. Ibrahim says. Pay close attention to symptoms that are only present or worsen at home or other public areas where mold is common.
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Signs And Symptoms Of Black Mold Poisoning
Black mold exposure may often present with your typical allergic complaints that are listed above. However, one must be mindful that other non-allergic, mold-related illnesses exist and may present similarly to a mold allergy, but often with more seemingly unrelated symptoms.
Research has found that people who have been exposed to mixed mold, mold spores and mycotoxins have experienced neurological and behavioral symptoms. These symptoms have been corroborated by other studies like Gordon et al. and Rea et al. .
Such non-allergic symptoms to mold may include, but are not limited to:
- Cognitive impairment
How Long Do Mold Symptoms Last
The tricky thing about mold exposure is that its different for each person. The amount of time mold exposure symptoms persist depends on:
- What type of mold they are exposed to,
- How long the exposure has been,
- How well their bodies eliminate toxins
Those who process toxins well can see their symptoms disappear as quickly as a few days.
Others who eliminate toxins slowly can experience symptoms for much longer. They could be ill for months or even years after the source of mold is eliminated.
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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.
What Are Microbial Volatile Organic Compounds
Another source of irritation from mold exposure comes from substances knownas microbial volatile organic compounds . These compounds are producedthrough fungal metabolism and are released directly into the air, often givingoff strong or unpleasant odors. Exposure to mVOCs from molds can irritate theeyes and respiratory system and has been linked to symptoms such as headaches,dizziness, fatigue, nasal irritation and nausea. The effects of mVOCs are notcompletely understood and research is still in the early stages.
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Symptoms Of Mold Exposure
Symptoms of mold exposure can include:
- Nasal and sinus congestion, runny nose
- Respiratory problems, such as wheezing and difficulty breathing, chest tightness
- Sneezing / Sneezing fits
Health effects linking to asthma
Adverse respiratory health effects are associated with occupancy in buildings with moisture and mold damage. Infants may develop respiratory symptoms due to exposure to a specific type of fungal mold, called Penicillium. Signs that an infant may have mold-related respiratory problems include a persistent cough and wheeze. Increased exposure increases the probability of developing respiratory symptoms during their first year of life. Studies have shown that a correlation exists between the probability of developing asthma and increased exposure to Penicillium. The levels are deemed âno moldâ to âlow levelâ, from âlowâ to âintermediateâ, and âintermediateâ to âhighâ.
Mold exposures have a variety of health effects depending on the person. Some people are more sensitive to mold than others. Exposure to mold can cause several health issues such as throat irritation, nasal stuffiness, eye irritation, cough, and wheezing, as well as skin irritation in some cases. Exposure to mold may also cause heightened sensitivity depending on the time and nature of exposure. People at higher risk for mold allergies are people with chronic lung illnesses and weak immune systems, which can often result in more severe reactions when exposed to mold.
Who Is At Risk
Its commonly assumed that mould causes the health problems described above, though the evidence for this is generally weaker than for dampness itself. This may be related to the fact that scientists are still struggling to accurately measure indoor mould exposures.
The WHO estimates that in cold climates, 15% of dwellings have signs of dampness and 5% have signs of mould problems. In warm climates, the estimates are 20% for dampness and 25% for mould.
Since dampness is more likely to occur in houses that are overcrowded and lack appropriate heating, ventilation and insulation, the prevalence of damp indoor problems in low-income communities and rental accommodation can be substantially higher.
Climate change and its effects on the weather are likely to further increase the proportion of buildings with damp problems.
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