What Are The Health Risks Of Living With Mold? What Can I Do About It?
There are more benefits to maintaining your home properly than simply your own creature comforts. If you don’t keep up your housekeeping, you may very well be causing yourself more harm than good. This is because, as contaminants build up in our home, so too does the chance of those living within the home becoming sick or susceptible to illness. Think carefully about what you remove when you thoroughly clean your house. You’re not just removing dust and allergens, but potentially debris left behind by various pests as well. Not all pests are entirely visible. However, all of them do leave behind fecal matter and skin cells. These often become airborne and contaminate the air within your home. They can also build up on the floor, walls, and even within the foundation of your home without you even realizing it. This isn’t just disgusting; it also opens the door for harmful mold to grow within your house. While we tend to believe that all types of mold will easily found before they grow out of hand, revealing themselves through that distinct mildew scent, this is not necessarily the case. A lot of different types of models are harder to distinguish, and therefore they go unnoticed. Furthermore, a lot of homeowners underestimate the health risks of living with mold, and either don’t properly prevent or properly eradicate mold. This can sometimes require professional removals.
There are a lot of possible issues that can cause mold, and a lot of strategies go into properly clearing it out. With that being said, mold and mildew can sometimes live much deeper within your home than you might think. Most often, we think of it developing within warm, damp spaces; and indeed, quite often mold can be found within showers and bathrooms. However, some of the most harmful forms of mold within the house can be found between walls. This is why it’s important to have your home regularly inspected and maintained by professionals, who can potentially find mold that would otherwise be difficult to uncover. Let’s look into what you need to know about mold in your home, as well as what types of mold you should be most worried about.
What Are The Health Risks Of Living With Mold?
There are a number of different health risks of living with mold, depending on the types of mold you’re dealing with. No single type of mold is exactly healthy to live with, but some are relatively benign while others carry with them the risks of serious health complications. Furthermore, depending on your own physical health, you may be more at risk of serious problems. While the majority of molds are harmless to the general population, you may very well be more allergic to some types than others.
The individuals that are more sensitive to mold are referred to as atopic. Typically, atopic individuals will also be sensitive to other contaminants in the air, such as allergens like pet dander. They may also suffer from asthma attacks, which would likely be exacerbated by constant exposure to mold within the home. Some atopic people may also suffer from compromised immune systems. A compromised immune system is unable to fight off illnesses and issues that would otherwise go relatively unnoticed by a healthy immune system. Perhaps the most common reaction to household mold is a typical allergic reaction, like sneezing, watery eyes, and coughing. Obviously, these types of symptoms can be coped with, but nobody wants to deal with them. It can be highly irritating, and if the allergies are severe enough you may even consider your quality of life reduced by them.
Of course, some individuals suffer from more severe reactions to mold. Usually, these would be respiratory in nature, at least at first. This would cause sufferers to perhaps experience more severe allergic reactions, increased asthma attacks, and at times even hypersensitivity pneumonitis. An acute version of the latter condition would result in fever, malaise, chest tightness, a cough, and a headache among other flu-like symptoms. It could lead to more long-term symptoms, such as low oxygen levels in the blood even when you’re at rest. Sinusitis can also accompany mold exposure. There are more intense reactions possible, but these are rarer. The issue is really that, over time, a lot of individuals can experience a more long-term effect due to mold exposure. Some of the health risks of living with mold are really dependent on an individual’s age, as well as their ability to fight off infections. These factors can be incredibly dependent on the individual. Often, people take the symptoms of living with mold for granted, not realizing that there is another, more comfortable way to live in the first place. You may very well attribute your more comfortable state to a better air conditioning system in your new home. The fact is that you were probably putting up with conditions that you shouldn’t have considered normal.
When mold is accompanied by dampness, perhaps because it formed as the result of flooding, the symptoms may at times be more severe. This is because the dampness itself can cause individuals’ immune systems to become compromised. When accompanied by the mold itself, this can gradually lead to Sick Building Syndrome. Sick Building Syndrome, or SBS, is a condition that essentially develops from a number of symptomatic illnesses caused by poor indoor air quality and pollutant exposures.
What Kinds Of Health Effects Has Toxic Mold Had In The Past?
Toxic mold has had a real effect on individuals that proves that the health risks of living with mold need to be taken seriously. In the early twentieth century, mold was linked to the deaths of numerous Russian peasants, due to the fact that they and their animals were eating products made from grain that had developed toxic mold due to dampness. Mold also became a more noticeable problem with the advent of more airtight homes and buildings in the 1970s. These were often made with cheaper materials, such as drywall. The moisture issues within these homes became more prevalent, and led to more serious mold issues.
This type of construction, over time, led to a number of different lawsuits related to toxic mold. Courts found links between illness and the presence of mold, and there was at one point even a comparison being made between mold and asbestos. Perhaps one of the most notable people to report issues with toxic mold was Erin Brokovich, the famous environmental activist. She received $430,000 in settlements from two different parties as the result of a lawsuit concerning toxic mold in her home. Often, these types of lawsuits occur in high-humidity states, as this naturally is where damper climates are more likely to arise.
How Can I Prevent Mold Within My Home?
Obviously, nobody wants to deal with the health risks of living with mold. Fortunately, there are steps that you can take to reduce your risk. Among the most important steps is simple HVAC maintenance. It’s extremely easy for mold to build up as the result of a faulty heating and cooling system. Keep in mind that mold often develops due to certain climates. Therefore, if there isn’t enough air circulation or if perhaps your home is more humid than it should be, you may very well end up dealing with a real mold problem. It’s important for you to take part in all parts of regular HVAC maintenance, not only with the types of maintenance that you can potentially handle yourself, like a duct cleaning, but also with the types of maintenance that may require hiring a professional HVAC repair company. Ultimately, whatever amount of money you spend to prevent the development of mold will be well worth it. Furthermore, a good HVAC system can also prevent issues that aren’t related to mold, like the circulation of heavy allergens within your house.
As previously mentioned, one of the most severe types of mold that you should be concerned about is usually caused by flooding and water damage. It’s important that you go ahead and ensure that your home is as dry and secure as possible. Usually, much of this can be taken care of affordably if you have flood insurance. Without it, you will probably need to pay for your water damage repairs out of pocket. Flooding can be difficult to repair, especially considering how easily water can build up. Often, the types of water repair required to prevent the development of mold will start with water removal. The area will then need to be cleaned and dried out. Mold can be more of a problem in some homes than others, as certain structures are more prone to water damage. This is particularly true, obviously, for homes that include basements. Although you may want to avoid some of the out-of-pocket expenses associated with repairing water damage by handling it by yourself, this is not advisable. Oftentimes, mold develops precisely because people attempt to repair water damage at home, and the repairs were not thorough enough.
Of course, there are other precautions you can take to prevent the health risks of living with mold to be a problem in your life. If you’ve already worked on your HVAC system, you can further expand the air circulation in your home by adding exterior doors to mold-prone areas. You may also want to consider investing in window replacements. Often, windows that are too old will no longer properly seal in hot or cool air and could compromise the air quality within your house. Furthermore, you’ll also benefit by being able to invest in more energy-efficient windows, which could save you money in the long term. While considering these renovations, you may also want to think about seeing if your house needs a roof repair. Roofs may have leaks that are so minor that you won’t immediately notice them; however, these could result in mold developing within your house.
What Should I Do If I Find Mold In My Home?
If you’ve already discovered even minor mildew, you may be wondering about the health risks of living with mold, and what you should do to get rid of it. While you can scrub moldy surfaces with heavy-duty cleaner, as previously mentioned there are a number of issues that can arise if you don’t have the mold in your house taken care of professionally. You should go ahead and wash any clothes that you think might have been exposed to mold, and then get in touch with the pros.
But who should you get in touch with first? If the mold is related to your plumbing system, you may want to have your plumber take a look at it first. They might be able to help you, and at least provide you with information about the type of mold you’re dealing with. Some plumbing companies also provide mold removal services. You should next have a roofer inspect your roof for mold and seal off any potential cracks. There are also mold mediation experts that you can work with, should the issue be more serious than you immediately though. This may seem dramatic, but considering the health risks of living with mold, you need to take the problem seriously.
There are a number of problems that can occur if you have mold in your house. For that matter, there’s just something unsettling about having mold in your house. Nobody wants to deal with this kind of issue. But it’s not a reflection on your cleanliness, and therefore it cannot be prevented simply through cleaning your home more thoroughly; though of course, this is something that everyone should take part in anyway. Therefore, you need to be proactive about detecting mold, and having it taken care of.
Right now, the health risks of living with mold are more serious than they ever were before. COVID-19 has caused a lot of people to suffer from lung issues that previously didn’t bother them. Therefore, you need to take an active stance on removing any mold in your home.