Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Mold and Your Health

~ courtesy info from the Dumpster Diva at Bin There Dump That

One tends to think of something that grows as having life and being categorized as either a plant or animal.   Mold, however, is neither plant nor animal, yet it can grow and reproduce by making spores. It has a life of its own and can negatively impact your health

It belongs in the Fungi Kingdom, and unlike a plant, mold does not get energy from the sun via photosynthesis.   The sun, in fact, inhibits the growth of mold, which sort of eats its way along, most commonly fulfilling its mission to break up decaying stuff like dead plants or animals.   Mold spores can survive severe conditions like drought where normal mold growth is not likely to occur until wetness or humidity returns.

Mildew is a form of mold, and the most common place in the house to find mildew is shower stalls and basements -- warm, humid, wet or damp, dark environments.   Surprisingly, neither the Environmental Protection Agency nor another government entity has issued standards on mold or mold spore levels, so there are no building regulations. 

Mildew forms a thin, white, gray or greenish layer while the less frequent "black mold" has a green-black hue and grows on surfaces with a high cellulose content like paper, wood, fiberboard and gypsum board, all common building materials.   While mold can do some serious damage to your home's structural elements like walls, floors, ceilings and upholstered furniture, it can really raise havoc with the health and well-being of residents in a poorly ventilated or cared-for house.

According to the Florida Department of Health, there are four kinds of health problems related to mold:
  • allergic illness
  • irritant effects
  • infection
  • toxic effects

The most vulnerable people to mold health risks include infants, children, elderly people with respiratory or lung conditions and those with weakened immune systems from ongoing treatments or recent illness.   The most common symptoms of an allergic or highly sensitive reaction to the presence of mold may or may not be linked to mold:
  • running nose and sneezing
  • coughing or wheezing
  • redness or itchy eyes
  • rash or skin irritation
  • asthma attacks
  • fever (less common)
  • breathing difficulty (less common)

There are some routine maintenance and awareness measures which can reduce the incidence of mold in your house:
  • check plumbing for leaks a few times a year
  • use A/C or a dehumidifier in hot or warm months
  • maintain good ventilation at all times
  • keep indoor humidity between 30 and 50 percent max
  • refrain from installing carpets in basements and bathrooms
  • have and use an exhaust fan in every bathroom
  • clean up quickly and thoroughly after a rain or water incident
Some of the most common places for mold outside your home which might cause distress to people with a sensitivity to the odor or presence of it include, not surprisingly, antique shops and lake or oceanfront summer cottages.   Also, greenhouses and flower shops, saunas, farms and construction areas can have the kinds of conditions where mold thrives

Being educated in mold conditions and its effects on health are key to avoiding the associated illness and discomfort, as well as potentially connecting the dots should symptoms arise. 

No comments:

Post a Comment