There has been a lot of attention in the media about the dangers of “black mold” and its adverse affect on our health. Can black mold affect your health? The answer is an emphatic ‘yes’, but the truth is, black mold is not the only mold that can cause adverse health effects. Any mold can be a potential health hazard, and should be removed as soon as possible. Here we use the term “black mold” to mean any mold that can be hazardous regardless of its color. This doesn’t mean you should panic if you see mold in your home. Most indoor molds don’t infect humans or animals, but rather cause problems when the spores they release are inhaled or if we ingest toxins produced by some of them during their growth. Proper precautions should always be taken if you see or smell mold in your home. Are there spefic black mold symptoms? No.
Mold is very common in buildings and homes and can grow anywhere under the proper conditions. Remember that mold requires moisture to grow, which means it will grow best in high humidity conditions, after a flood, where there are sweating or leaky pipes or anywhere else there is sufficient moisture. The key to preventing mold is to remove its most important growth requirement (moisture), or better yet, never allow excess moisture to develop.
Mold does not always produce symptoms, nor does it produce symptoms in everyone exposed to it, but if you have a mold problem, anyone in your home is at risk. The young and the elderly, those with a compromised immune system due to other illness and those with asthma are at the highest risk of developing black mold symptoms. However, molds have also been associated with certain health problems even in previously healthy individuals.
Generally, people who are sensitive to molds may experience relatively mild symptoms such as nasal stuffiness, sneezing, eye irritation, wheezing, or skin irritation.
However, mold has also been associated with more worrisome symptoms such as sinus infections, generalized aches and pains, dizziness, flu-like symptoms, constant headaches, memory problems, difficulty concentrating and mood changes.
Severe reactions are unlikely to occur unless the individual is exposed to large amounts of mold. Severe reactions can include fever and shortness of breath. If you have asthma, you may experience increased or worsening of asthma symptoms and sometimes develop a new case of asthma even if you were previously healthy. You may also be more susceptible to developing bronchitis or other chronic lung problems.
Perhaps most concerning, people with compromised immune symptoms or those with chronic lung problems such as COPD are at increased risk for opportunistic infections and may develop a fungal infection in their chest.
Where’s the Proof?
According to a 1999 Mayo Clinic Study nearly all chronic sinus infections are the result of molds. A “USA Today” cover story, also in 1999 linked the tripling of asthma rates over the last 20 years to mold issues as well.(1)
The Institute of Medicine (IOM) and the World Health Organization both associate mold with a long list of potential symptoms with varying health implications ranging form mild to severe.
In 2004 the Institute of Medicine (IOM) found there was enough evidence to “link indoor exposure to mold with upper respiratory tract symptoms, cough, and wheeze in healthy people, with asthma symptoms in people who already have asthma, and with hypersensitivity pneumonitis in susceptible people.
The IOM also found limited or suggestive evidence linking indoor mold exposure and respiratory illness in otherwise healthy children and to the potential development of asthma in susceptible individuals. (2)
In 2009, the World Health Organization issued additional guidance, the WHO Guidelines for Indoor Air Quality: Dampness and Mould. The review concludes that the most important effects are “increased prevalences of respiratory symptoms, allergies and asthma as well as perturbation of the immunological system”.(2)
What to do if your family has black mold symptoms
Becoming informed is the first step to protecting yourself and your family. If anyone has unexplained symptoms resembling black mold symptoms, thoroughly investigate your home for mold.
If you find mold, safely remove it as soon as possible and fix any excess moisture sources.
Consider having affected and susceptible family members stay somewhere else while you remove mold from your home, since removing mold may release spores into the air causing an exacerbation of symptoms.
If you cannot find mold in your own home, you may need to consider other areas affected family members frequent, such as your friend’s homes, your office, your child’s school, gymnasiums, etc. If you find or suspect mold, let appropriate persons know about it and don’t expose yourself or your child to the area until it has been successfully removed.
Before you remove mold, consider a laboratory test to identify which mold is in your home. While most molds may cause only milder symptoms, there are a few molds, such as Stachybotrys, Aspergillius and Penicillium that are associated with more adverse health effects.
These molds produce mycotoxins that can cause severe and fatal opportunistic infection in persons with compromised immune systems.
(1) Black Mold Health Issues | eHow.com http://www.ehow.com/facts_5904980_black-mold-health-issues.html#ixzz1XT95NNFK