The Harmful Effects of Mold and Mildew

mold and mildew removalMold is everywhere. We see it on the floors, on the walls and the ceiling. We see it in the bathroom, in the basement, and we see it in the attic. We see it in our laundry, on carpets, on wood, on our shoes, even on our food. For most people, it is a nuisance but a constant part of life. But do you know that mold is actually dangerous to our health? Unfortunately, not all people are aware of this fact.

Mold and mildew, when left unattended and allowed to grow into large proportions, can be very harmful. This post will discuss several harmful effects of mold and mildew to our health.

Who Is Safe From Mold and Mildew?

No matter what age you are, no matter how sickly or healthy you are, nobody is safe from the harmful  effects of mold and mildew. Prolonged exposure to mold and mildew is not good for us, and even our pets. Mold can especially be very dangerous to people with existing health conditions. People with respiratory illnesses, allergies and asthma’s are especially at risk. Elderly people are vulnerable, as well as Infants and children. Immunocompromised patients (people with low immunity) such as people with cancers, and those taking medications that suppress the immune system, are extremely vulnerable to the dangers of mold and mildew.

What is Mold and Why Is It Dangerous?

how to prevent mold infectionMold is a type of fungi that thrive on damp, warm and humid environment. Mildew is a type of mold. They love to grow in moist areas where the air is humid and stagnant. Some molds also thrive in dark, cool places. Like everything that God created, mold has its function in maintaining ecological balance. Mold contributes to the decomposition of organic matter. That is why they often destroy whatever surface they thrive on. I live in a place with a tropical climate, and sometimes it can get very warm and humid around here. I see mold everywhere. They cause wood, walls, leather and clothing to rot.

The most common types of mold we see in our homes are CladosporiumPenicilliumAlternaria, and Aspergillus Stachybotrys chartarum. Stachybotrys is also known as black mold, and this type of mold produces mycotoxins that are extremely harmful when we are exposed to them in significant quantities. These mycotoxins are released in the form of spores which are invisible to the human eye. These spores are transmitted in the air and when they land on a surface with ideal conditions, these spores will thrive and multiply. These spores are present in the air we breathe, and is the most common mode of entry to the human body.

Mycotoxins are very dangerous. They can enter the lungs, the eyes, the skin, and can also suppress a person’s immune system. A lot of immunosuppressant drugs are actually derived from several species of mold. In addition, mycotoxins are known to be cytotoxic and mutagenic (causing cell mutations) which can potentially lead to cancers.

Toxic black mold can cause a series of symptoms that are not only annoying, but can also be life threatening. Some of the health problems associated with black mold infection are mental impairment, skin problems, respiratory problems, and malfunction of internal organs that can potentially lead to death.

Mild and Severe Symptoms of Mold Infection

Mild Symptoms. Common and mild symptoms of mold infection include coughing and sneezing, runny nose, skin itching and rashes, eye redness and irritation, and headaches.

Advanced Symptoms. More advanced symptoms of mold infection include severe headaches, general body weakness and fatigue, loss of appetite, nausea, diarrhea and vomiting, weight loss, sexual dysfunction, pain in muscles and joints, coughing of blood, nosebleeds, and frequent asthma attacks and recurring cold and flu symptoms.

Severe Symptoms. Severe symptoms of mold infection that can be life threatening include infertility and miscarriage, vision impairment and blindness, hearing loss, long term memory loss, liver disease,brain damage, bleeding lungs, cancer, coma and death.

Ways to Prevent Mold Infection

how to remove mold and mildewMold loves moisture. Without moisture, mold cannot survive. Therefore, controlling moisture is the key to successfully prevent mold infection. Below are simple yet very effective ways of mold and mildew removal.

1. Sunlight. Mold loves dark and damp places. Opening windows and allowing sunlight to get in will help get rid of the moisture within your home. Opening doors and windows will also allow the air to move instead of being stagnant. This task is very simple, yet makes a big difference in controlling mold and mildew.

2. Leaks in plumbing and water damage problems should be fixed right away, ideally within 24 to 48 hours. Do not ignore these problems or you might see yourself dealing with mold problems later on. Mold growth on walls can be pretty damaging and costly. You can end up replacing the walls completely in order to fix the problem. Water leaks in the bathroom, the roof, and the basement are the most common cause of mold growth and infestation.

3. Don’t leave your laundry unattended. Sometimes we tend to procrastinate in getting the laundry done, and procrastination is precisely why mold and mildew grow on our fabrics and clothes. Our laundry basket is a mixture of sweat, dirt, as well as food stains. If you have infants around, milk stains also make their way in the laundry. This mixture is very ideal for mold development. It is therefore very important to get the laundry done as quickly as possible. Hanging out clothes under the sun before folding and storing them away will kill whatever mold spores have started developing on your clothes.

4.Use fans for better ventilation. Opening windows and using fans will provide better ventilation within the house, and help control the dampness in the air. Bathrooms especially need to be well ventilated.

5. Use air conditioner and air dehumidifier during peak humid seasons. This will help control moisture and prevent mold growth.

6. If possible, avoid using carpets inside the bathroom and basement, unless you have the time to dry them out under the sun frequently. If you do not have the luxury of time to do that, then it is best to avoid using carpets altogether in these areas.

7. Use mold-resistant primer that can be added to household paints. This will help prevent mold from developing on walls and ceilings.

8. If you find yourself faced with a large mold problem, call a mold removal specialist to do a professional mold treatment. Attempting to address the problem yourself can be harmful, especially if you are dealing with black mold. Professionals have suits, gears and equipment that will protect them from getting infected with mold during a treatment.

*Contributed by Michelle G. [link]

Sources:
http://biosignlabs.com/Symptoms_Mold_Sickness.html
http://www.medicinenet.com/mold_exposure/page3.htm
http://blackmold.awardspace.com/black-mold-toxic-stachybotrys-mycotoxins.html

Has this post been helpful in providing important information about mold and mildew prevention? Do you have more ideas on how to get rid of mold and mildew? Comment below and share your ideas with us! You may also visit our sister website, Groutcleaningdiy.com for great ideas on how to remove mold and mildew. :)

***Funny Remarks About Mold***

“Eeek! Argh! Mold reminds me of fungus and athlete’s foot freaks me out! It’s growing of fungus INTO your skin. It will rip open the skin and go in and get as deep as it can! ARGH! Then it moves and irritates and grows more! This can lead to amputations!”

“If there was someone called sloth he and mold could go together :D (sloths move so little they grow mold)”

“Me stares at mold for a painfully long time”

“Will i get Athletes foot if I kick on mold?”

Q: Why are bread jokes always funny?
A: Because they never get mold!

 

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