It has become common these days to hear about the dangers of extreme exposure to mold. Most people have suffered from its effects over the past years and there is no doubt that mold is a toxic substance that affects your health negatively. Although mold is considered a threat to humans, it is important to understand what it is, why it is dangerous, and how to prevent its detrimental effects. Having a deeper understanding of mold will help keep you safe as you take precautionary measures on preventing its health effects.
Definition of Mold
Mold is a living microorganism in the Kingdom Fungi. It is heterotrophic, meaning it cannot make its own food like other plants do. Therefore, mold can only acquire nutrients from other organic substances. Molds contain thread-like filaments referred to as hyphae, which form a conglomerate known as mycelium. It feeds upon dead organic matter including animals and plants after they decompose.
Mold thrives in damp and humid environments with temperatures between 39 to 100° F. It also requires a food source, oxygen, and water. Mold has the ability to decompose dead organic materials and can grow on paper, wood, and even walls. It can also be found in leaking pipes and walls, musty basements and decaying food such as bread. Some molds acquire moisture from the air when the relative humidity is above 60%. A high level of humidity creates a favorable condition for the growth of molds because it prefers wet and damp surfaces. Its spores have the ability to survive in different types of climate and can be transferred to new locations by air, water or animals. It is also important to understand that molds are ubiquitous in nature, meaning they present everywhere both indoors and outdoors.
Types of Mold
Molds come in many varieties designated by their color and mode of growth. Some major types of molds include:
The Rhizopus stolonifer is one of the most common types also referred to as the black bread mold. It not only grows on bread but also in fruits and vegetables.
Penicillium is another well-known type of mold, usually found in water-damaged structures and other types of food.
Aspergillus is a mold that causes severe respiratory problems and comes in several carcinogenic varieties. It is mostly found indoors and grows in basements, bathtubs and other places with water leakages.
The aforementioned mold types are only a few mold varieties since they are very many. Mold can pose a great danger to your health regardless of its variation and it is always important to protect yourself from harm’s way.
What are the Health Effects of Mold?
Mold spores easily become airborne because they are very light and tiny to the human eye. Anyone in the vicinity can inhale mold spores once they start floating in the air. There are molds that produce toxins, also referred to as mycotoxins, which lead to different health problems in individuals. Not everyone exposed to mold can become ill, but it takes long periods of exposure to become sick. The most susceptible people include children, and people with immune-related disorders and respiratory problems like asthma.
Nevertheless, everyone is still at risk of being affected by mold because it accumulates over time in your body, releasing toxins into your bloodstream. Some of the illnesses caused by mold include systemic candidiasis, aspergillosis, blastomycosis, and sporotrichosis. These conditions have a wide range of symptoms and most people experience headaches, sore throats, stuffed up nose, sneezing, and coughing. Extreme exposure to mold leads to shortness of breath and breathing problems.
How to Get Rid of Molds
Mold remediation is the process of repairing or removing mold-related damage in a home. This process is complicated and should be done under supervision of a professional to prevent further exposure to molds spores that are potentially harmful. Mold can be cleaned from contaminated surfaces such as bathtubs, tiles, pipes before disinfecting these surfaces. Materials such as carpeting, wood, and drywall are impossible to clean thoroughly and need to be replaced or removed completely. It is also important to test for the presence of mold in your bloodstream if you experience any of the symptoms related to mold.
Mold is a dangerous microorganism that can pose serious health effects to individuals. It is important to address the root cause of the problem by minimizing conditions that favorable for the growth of molds. This includes repairing water-leakages in walls, basements, and pipes as well as keeping your surfaces clean and disinfected.