Dangers of Mold Exposure
Mold is all around us. It is in the air we breathe and on the food we eat. But, exposure to high levels of mold can cause serious health concerns. All molds have the potential to cause health effects.
Molds produce allergens, irritants, and in some cases, toxins that may cause reactions in humans. The types and severity of symptoms depend, in part, on the types of mold present, the extent of an individual's exposure, the ages of the individuals, and their existing sensitivities or allergies.
When moisture problems occur and mold growth results, building occupants may begin to report odors and a variety of health problems, such as headaches, breathing difficulties, skin irritation, allergic reactions, and aggravation of asthma symptoms.
People with weakened immune systems may be more vulnerable to infections by molds. Aspergillus fumigatus, for example, has been known to infect the lungs of immune-compromised individuals. These individuals inhale the mold spores which then start growing in their lungs. Stachybotrys chartarum and trichoderma have been known to infect immune-compromised children. Molds can also cause common skin diseases, such as athlete's foot, as well as other infections such as yeast infections.
Molds can produce toxic substances called mycotoxins. Some mycotoxins cling to the surface of mold spores; others may be found within spores. More than 200 mycotoxins have been identified from common molds, and many more remain to be identified. Some of the molds that are known to produce mycotoxins are commonly found in moisture-damaged buildings. Exposure pathways for mycotoxins can include inhalation, ingestion, or skin contact.
Many symptoms and human health effects attributed to inhalation of mycotoxins have been reported including: mucous membrane irritation, skin rash, nausea, immune system suppression, acute or chronic liver damage, acute or chronic central nervous system damage, endocrine effects, and cancer. More studies are needed to get a clear picture of the health effects related to most mycotoxins. However, it is clearly prudent to avoid exposure to molds and mycotoxins.
The following videos help explain the dangers of mold and the effects it can have on the human body.