All across the country homeowners silently grapple with an unseen problem. It’s so small you can’t be seen with the naked eye, and by the time it IS visible, its already a problem. It has been linked to things as benign as coughing and wheezing, to things more serious like asthma and upper respiratory tract infections. This problem – mold – is one of the most common in America, and if left unchecked, it could lead to serious short- and long-term health problems.
What is mold?
Mold is a type of fungus that occurs naturally in the environment, and is found pretty much everywhere you go. It spreads via airborne spores, which are carried into homes through vents, open windows, and even on pets and people. Once landed, spores will grow and thrive in any dark and damp environment such as in basements, attics, crawlspaces, and garages.
It’s important to note that mold itself is not toxic. Rather, certain types of mold produce substances known as mycotoxins which have the potential to cause health problems. For example, the famous Black Mold (toxic stachybotrys), like the name would imply, is colored black, but so are several other variants of mold, many of which are harmless. When dealing with mold, the most reliable way to have them identified is to send a sample off to a lab for analysis.
Numerous studies have linked the toxins produced by molds to several illnesses, including upper respiratory tract infections, coughing and wheezing, and increased asthma symptoms in people with asthma. Children exposed to mold early in their development may also be at risk for developing asthma later on in life.
Treatment and Prevention of Mold Infestation
Depending on the severity of the infestation, and the type of material its on, mold may or may not be easily removable. Oftentimes moldy surfaces can be cleaned with a warm water, a bleach solution, and some sunlight, but certain materials don’t respond well to such treatment. Metals and ceramic surfaces are easy to clean, but wooden surfaces, will often have to be discarded since have microscopic “pores” that mold spores can grow in and can’t be cleaned. The best methods for dealing with mold growth are preventive in nature. Mold cannot grow without moisture, and leaking pipes are the most common sources of moisture for mold, so it helps to ensure that the pipes in the most accessible areas of your home are well maintained. Consult your local plumber or general contractor for assistance with any plumbing-related issues.
Mold, although naturally occurring, can be a serious threat to the health of your home and family if left unchecked so preventive measures should be taken to ensure that mold doesn’t grow out of control.