What Is Mold?
Mold is a type of fungus, which grows in the form of multicellular filaments called ‘hyphae.’
Molds cause natural materials to biodegrade and lead to the spoilage of food and damage to property. While necessary in the development of specific enzymes and antibiotics, molds also are the cause of some diseases to humans and animals. The diseases may stem from mold spores, the growth of pathogenic molds inside the body or through inhaled mycotoxins that are produced through molds.
Can Molds Effect Humans Adversely?
Molds and mold spores are easily found in households or workplaces. Molds thrive where there is moisture. They are usually found in damp, dark, or steamy areas. For example bathrooms, kitchens, and basements – closed areas devoid of ventilation.
Although not usually harmful, mold spores do represent a threat when present in large quantities. Molds produce allergen, irritants, and in some cases, toxic substances (mycotoxins).
Inhaling such molds cause allergic behavior in sensitive individuals. Molds also pose a threat for asthma patients and can cause asthma attacks in people.
The effects of mold attacks can vary from a running eye to a life-threatening situation. However, allergic reactions to molds are common. The allergic reactions to mold may consist of symptoms similar to hay fever such as sneezing, runny nose, red eyes, and skin rash. Some people with allergies have also reported chronic coughs, headaches, or migraines with difficulty breathing.
People with weak immune systems and people with chronic lung illnesses can get severe infections in their lungs when they’re exposed to mold. Such people should stay away from compost piles, cut grass, and wooded areas.
Mold exposure can also irritate the eyes and skin, and induce a respiratory problem through nose, lung, and throat irritation.
However, exposure to mycotoxins can pose serious health threats to humans and animals alike.
High levels of mycotoxins can lead to neurological problems which, in some cases, may result in death. Studies claim that prolonged exposure to molds, such as cases of toxic mold presence in households, is particularly detrimental to health.
Furthermore, the presence of mold species in food and edible items is also a significant health hazard.
Certain mold species can grow in stored food. Such mold species produce toxic metabolites collectively termed ‘mycotoxins.’ However, such poisonous bacteria can also be used for the betterment of humans when the toxicity is used against other harmful organisms.
It is important to remember that mold is usually not harmful, except for some exceptions.
How to Avoid Mold
Avoiding mold entirely is impossible. Mold is present in the air and dust particles that populate every household and workplaces.
One way to avoid mold buildup is by preventing water infested surfaces from remaining wet or moist for too long.
Mold Prevention methods against water are listed below:
- Fixing leaky taps and address plumbing leaks. Dry surfaces prevent mold from building up.
- Porous materials, such as carpets and tiles, are susceptible to mold buildup in empty crevices and spaces. They should be filled up/cleaned entirely and punctually.
- Avoid exposure to mold. Asthma patients or those allergic to mold are advised to put on a face mask to avoid inhaling mold that leads to asthma attacks or allergic reaction.
- Do not paint moldy surfaces. Paint over moldy surfaces peels off quickly. Clean the mold and dry the surface, before painting
- Places that are often damp, like bathrooms, are hard to keep mold free. An alternative is to increase the ventilation into the room and clean more frequently.
- If an expensive item has been subject to mold buildup, consult a specialist. Specialists in furniture, water damage, and others are adept at mold cleaning and restoring. They are easily identifiable since they should hold a Mold Inspector Certification.
Apart from water, there are some general methods to prevent mold. Some of those are,
- Control the humidity levels in the household and workplace – make room for ventilation.
- Promptly fix leaky roofs, windows, and
- Thoroughly cleaning and drying wet surfaces.
- Ventilating shower, laundry and cooking areas.
What to Do When You Notice Mold
Mold can also appear in many different colors. It smells musty, and if you can see or smell it – a health risk might be present. If you see mold forming anywhere, the best practice is to remove the mold and work to prevent future growth.
The health hazards certain types of mold poses, added with the expensive sampling and identification procedures make removing the best bet in case mold growth.