Mold Causes, Symptoms, Health Risks, and Prevention

Wednesday, June 06, 2018Katie Jaramillo

Mold is part of our natural environment and isn’t usually a problem unless it’s indoors. Mold can exist in different forms both indoors and outdoors. Mold will affect health if not treated in one’s living area. Because mold is extremely toxic, the spores that enter the body can cause serious illness if untreated. These spores are introduced to the environment when mold spreads.

Exposure to moldy environments can sometimes cause severe health issues for those with allergies. The early symptoms of mold sickness look like a common cold or allergy attack. These symptoms can indicate a mold problem is present in the building:

  • Skin issues/infections
  • Sneezing
  • Wheezing
  • Coughing
  • Itchy skin
  • Headache
  • Watery and itching eyes
  • Skin irritation
  • Memory loss
  • Asthma
  • Insomnia
  • Depression

The most prevalent and long-lasting effects of mold are respiratory infections, allergies, and asthma. Symptoms of the later stages of mold sickness include constant headaches, weight and hair loss, diarrhea, vomiting, constant fatigue, blood when coughing, chronic bronchitis, and sinus infections.

Especially in these later stages, mold sickness should be diagnosed and treated by a doctor who can ensure proper recovery and advise how to minimize impact such an allergist, family healthcare provider, infectious disease physician, pulmonary physician or an occupational physician.

Indoor mold found in areas with a lot of moisture, e.g. leaks in roofs, pipes, in-home air-conditioning systems, fiberglass air ducts, and on the backs of toilets. Mold can also grow behind baseboards, on upholstery, behind wallpaper, on fabric, and on drywall. Professional dry out within 24-48 hours is essential in areas with water damage to treat what has been affected to prevent mold growth. Mold feeds on surfaces where it grows, therefore gradually destroying them.

There are steps that can be taken to avoid the negative health impacts of mold.

The best way to prevent mold is to control moisture in the building. Indoor relative humidity should be kept below 60 percent (ideally between 30 and 50 percent). This can be achieved by deploying a dehumidifier, using an air conditioner, and ensuring proper ventilation in bathrooms.

Cleanliness is also a key factor in controlling and preventing mold. Mold spores can be carried through the air and land on indoor dust particles. These particles become an environment in which mold will thrive and flourish. Changing furnace filters, throwing away old books and newspapers, and keeping plant containers clean and dry also can help reduce the nutrients for mold to feed on.

About the Author

Katie Jaramillo
Account Manager

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