No one wants to hear the dreaded words: “you’ve got mold.” It is an unsightly mess, a hassle, and an expense you were not expecting to pay. However, another overlooked negative impact of mold is on the health of you and your family. The Center for Disease Control (“CDC”) has warned that extensive exposure to mold can cause adverse health effects; the longer the exposure, coupled with abnormally high volumes of mold spores, can cause particularly harmful or lasting effects.
On Long Island, we are unfortunately susceptible to mold growth, especially in basements and attics, because of our proximity to water and changing seasons. Because of this, in order to keep your family safe and healthy, you must be prudent in your detection of mold.
Why does mold negatively impact health? Mold is a fungus that grows due to the presence of built-up moisture. We are exposed to mold every day, it is everywhere; mold reproduces by way of lightweight spores that travel through the air.
In small amounts, and outdoors, mold is typically harmless. Mold becomes dangerous to our health when it grows on a surface in an area where we breathe daily, such as our home. Inhalation of a large number of mold spores each day can be harmful because some people’s immune system overreacts (an allergic reaction) when mold is inhaled. A reaction can also occur from physical contact with mold.
The health effects of mold vary by person; some may react severely and some may not react at all. It is impossible to predict a reaction you or a family member would have to mold because it depends on the health of each person, the type of mold, the level of exposure, and other contributing factors. Studies have shown that people with particular sensitivities, such as allergies, asthma, or a suppressed immune system are more likely to be at increased health risk due to mold. However, even without an allergy, mold may cause irritation to the eyes, skin, or nose.
The most common reaction to mold is an allergic reaction. Some mold symptoms mimic a cold – nasal and sinus congestion; runny nose; cough; sore throat; and sneezing. However, the health impacts of mold on your family can also be far worse.
Overexposure to mold may cause respiratory infections, asthma, fungal sinusitis, or inflammation of the lung. While severe reactions to mold are rare, they are possible. Some molds, known as toxic molds, produce mycotoxins, which can cause neurological problems or even death.
The good news is that you can control mold in your home. Humidity levels should be kept under 50%; ventilate bathrooms, the kitchen, and the laundry room; repair damage to the roof, pipes, or exterior walls; and clean or remove water-damaged items. If you do sense that there is mold present in your home, it is important to contact a professional mold removal company on Long Island immediately, as it is not worth the health risk to you and your family. After the mold removal is successfully completed, it is important to keep susceptible areas dry to prevent future mold growth.