Mold in your Home
Mold is a Huge Problem
Mold or toxic mold has certainly been in the news for some time now. The dangerous effects of mold in your home can cause a bevy of heath issues including chronic bronchitis, learning disabilities, mental deficiencies, heart problems, cancer, multiple sclerosis, chronic fatigue, lupus, fibromyalgia, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple chemical sensitivity, bleeding lungs and much more.
Molds are not a new phenomenon, they are a part of the natural environment. In nature, molds are necessary for breaking down dead organic matter, leaves and trees. The problem arises when mold makes its way into your home.
Mold found in your home is a sign of other problems. Molds can only grow where there is moisture, oxygen and some sort of food to feed on. Most homeowners that have mold issues will have had some sort of water intrusion either by poorly sealed windows or doors, leaking roofs, damp or wet basements or leaky plumbing.
Molds reproduce by means of tiny spores; the spores are invisible to the naked eye and float through outdoor and indoor air. Mold may begin growing indoors when mold spores land on surfaces that are wet. Not all molds are toxic. Some molds produce secondary metabolites that produce toxins. The correct term is mycotoxins. Airborne mycotoxins can definitely destroy one's health. There are many types of mold, and none of them will grow without water or moisture.
The Hidden Dangers
The worst place that molds can grow, however, is where you cannot see it. Mold can grow undetected inside wall cavities and flooring of our homes. Anywhere there may be cellulose materials such as wood, ceiling tiles, or plasterboard to feed on, mold can grow.
Many times, people are not even aware that they are breathing mold spores and mycotoxins until they are very sick. In some cases, people may have a minor allergic reaction to the non-toxic mold, and once they remove themselves from the affected area they usually will recover with few serious side effects. However, those that have been exposed to the more dangerous fungal molds such as Stachybotrys or Chaetomium, they could suffer from a myriad of serious symptoms and illnesses.
What are the Symptoms
The following is a list of the most common symptoms of fungal exposure. This is not an all inclusive list, there are other symptoms and if you feel that you are being exposed to some form of toxic mold, you should seek medical attention to determine your health risks. Keep in mind that people rarely experience all of the symptoms listed. Most people with some form of Mycotoxicosis will meet at least 8 (recent symptoms) of the following criteria:
- Respiratory distress, coughing, sneezing
- Difficulty swallowing, choking, spitting up
- Burning in the throat and lungs (often misdiagnosed as acid reflux)
- Asthmatic signs; wheezing, shortness in breath, coughing, burning in lungs, etc.
- Irritable bowel syndrome, nausea, diarrhea, sharp abdominal pains, stomach lesions
- Bladder, liver, spleen, or kidney pain
- Dark or painful urine
- Dirt-like taste in mouth, coated tongue
- Food allergies/leaky gut syndrome/altered immunity
- Memory loss; brain fog, slurred speech, occasionally leading to dementia
- Vision problems
- Swollen lymph nodes
- Large boils on neck (often a sign of anaphylaxis)
- Yellowing of nails, ridges, or white marks under nail
- Thyroid irregularities, sometimes leading to complete dysfunction; adrenal problems
- Anxiety/depression, heart palpitations - confusion
- Extreme blood pressure, cholesterol, or triglycerides irregularities
- Ringing in ears, balance problems (very common), dizziness, loss of hearing
- Chronic fatigue
- Intermittent face flushing; almost always systemic, Called the Mylar Flush
- Night head sweats, and drooling while sleeping, profuse sweating
- Nose bleeds (stachybotrys)
- Bruising/scarring easily; rash or hives, bloody lesions all over the skin
- Reproductive system complications; infertility, changes in menstrual cycles, miscarriage
- Sudden weight changes
- Hair loss, very brittle nails
- Joint/muscle stiffness and pain
- Irregular heart beat/heart attack
- Seizures, inadvertent body jerking, twitching, inadvertent facial movements or numbness in face
What Should You Do if You Find Mold in Your House
If you feel that you are experiencing some of the symptoms, seek medical attention. Let your physician know that you think that you may have been exposed to some form of toxic mold. He will need to know in order to properly diognose your symptoms.
Then you need to find out what type of mold you have growing in your home. Some molds can easily be removed by yourself while others will need professional remediation. There are tests available that you can use to quickly and cheply determine if you have a mold problem
Mouldworks@home is a mold analysis laboratory based at the University of Oregon in Eugene. They offer a self-help test for $45. That cost includes the lab analysis.
Mold issues are vast and complex. There are plenty of resources available to you via the Internet. Educate yourself about the problem and do not just assume that it will go away. Your health could be at risk by ignoring the problem.
OTHER LINKS OF INTEREST CONCERNING MOLD ISSUES
For more information please visit HADD Sickhomes google group.
Some of the links above will show pages put out by businesses that handle mold issues or detection/clean-up products. HADD does not endorse any businesses nor does HADD receive any compensation for providing these links. The links above have been provided for research only. HADD does not do business with any entities nor does HADD have contracts, contacts or associations with any businesses or agencies on the subject of mold