Which molds are most dangerous to my health?
Can mold spores contain toxins?
Yes. Some of these fungi produce mycotoxins. And almost all molds that grow in the environment can produce triple helical glucan. Both of which are toxic to lung cells. The term “toxic mold” is not accurate. While certain molds are toxigenic, meaning they can produce toxins specifically mycotoxins. Hence the molds themselves are not toxic, or poisonous. Hazards presented by molds that may produce mycotoxins should be considered the same as other common molds which can grow in your house. Molds reproduce by creating spores that can be too small for the naked eye to see. The spores vary in shape and range from 2 to 100 microns in size. For comparison, a strand of a human hair ranges from 17 to 181 microns in diameter.
How do they move?
Molds release the reproductive spores, which can spread through the air, water, or on animals. Therefore there is always a little mold everywhere – in the air and on many surfaces. When mold spores land on a damp spot indoors, they may begin growing and digesting whatever they are growing on to survive. Molds can reproduce in any moist place. They can grow on wood, paper, carpet, foods and other surfaces.
General mold categories
Mold species are generally categorized as one of three types:
- Allergenic– Unlikely to cause illness (though it may aggravate mild allergies)
- Pathogenic– Can cause infection in people who are immunocompromised
- Toxigenic– Toxic to all humans and animals who come in contact with it
How long does it take for mold spores to die?
Clean and dry any damp or wet building materials and furnishings within 24-48 hours to prevent mold growth. With water, molds grow. Without water, molds die but the spores do not. If water returns, the spores regenerate growing colonies of mold.
Studies of the link of illness and mold:
There are very few reports that toxigenic molds found inside homes can cause unique or rare health conditions such as pulmonary hemorrhage or memory loss. These case reports are rare, and a causal link between the presence of the toxigenic mold and these conditions has not been proven. So don’t worry quite yet!
Many studies in appropriate laboratory animals have demonstrated that very low exposures of these compounds can result in inflammation. The health effects of breathing mycotoxins indoors are not well understood. Thus they continue to be studied. Therefore research is done to better understand why studies consistently show increased asthma among occupants of damp buildings.
In 2004, the Institute of Medicine found there was sufficient evidence to link indoor exposure to mold with upper respiratory tract symptoms, cough, and wheeze in otherwise healthy people; with asthma symptoms in people with asthma; and with hypersensitivity pneumonitis in individuals susceptible to that immune-mediated condition. The IOM also found limited or suggestive evidence linking indoor mold exposure and respiratory illness in otherwise healthy children. In 2009, the World Health Organization issued additional guidance, the WHO Guidelines for Indoor Air Quality: Dampness and Mould Cdc-pdf. Other recent studies have suggested a potential link of early mold exposure to development of asthma in some children. Particularly among children who may be genetically susceptible to asthma development. And that improving housing conditions can the limit the risk of asthma and respiratory allergies, but more research is needed in this regard.
A common-sense approach should be used for any mold contamination existing inside buildings and homes. The common health concerns from molds include hay fever-like allergic symptoms. Certain individuals with chronic respiratory disease (chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder, asthma) may experience difficulty breathing. Individuals with immune suppression may be at increased risk for infection from molds. If you or your family members have these conditions, a qualified medical clinician should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment. For the most part, one should take routine measures to prevent mold growth in the home. If you have trouble locating a mold remediation specialist, we may have one for you!