Mold is a fungus that grows naturally on decaying organic matter in moist conditions, and migrates to new sites by releasing microscopic spores into the air. It thrives in any similar environment where there’s a source of carbon. A modern, centrally-heated home is ideal for it. Though modern homes do a great job sealing the house from the outside, it also drastically reduces air flow and can produce stale, moist air, that’s ripe for mold growth.
The Toxigenic Risk
Mold is not poisonous or dangerous in itself. In fact, you could probably eat it if you wanted to (although we’re not advising that). The danger lies in the mycotoxins some variants produce. It’s important to note that the evidential linkage to the following conditions is circumstantial, not scientifically proven.
- Allergic Reactions include red, itchy or watery eyes, nasal stuffiness, sneezing, and irritations of the nose, mouth and throat. These are set off when mold spores come in contact with our bodies. If they erupt when we’re removing mold infestations, then the two are likely linked.
- Hypersensitive Pneumonitis (HP) is a condition whereby an allergic reaction becomes an immune system sensitization Unlike an allergy that soon fades when the cause is removed, HP-related coughs, breath-shortness, chills, fevers and night sweats – and even profound fatigue – can last for several days. Persistent attacks may lead to tissue-scarring and even lung disease.
- Asthma is a chronic condition that’s influenced by the environment in 15% of cases. Symptoms such as chest tightness, wheezing, breath-shortness and coughs are the result of bronchial passage narrowing. A major attack can result in asphyxiation in extreme circumstances. Where a relationship to indoor contaminants appears possible, urgent attention could be vital.
After a causal link has been established between bronchial health and mold its removal is no longer a cosmetic matter. Because mold can repopulate even the cleanest home with impunity (and modern domestic materials make ideal hosts), the only hope of eliminating it, is to moderate the damp or humid conditions it relies on.
An experienced mold inspector with sophisticated equipment will help identify mold problems in a short time. Root causes will likely be a combination of water intrusion (especially in the case of wet basements), and ambient humidity because windows are kept closed and the thermostat’s turned up too high.
A clean, dry and mold free home that’s well-ventilated is not only a pleasure to live in, and easier to keep clean. It also holds its value better in the current economic climate, and contributes to a general sense of happiness and wellness among the families that reside in them.