Understanding the risks associated with black mold is crucial for maintaining a healthy living environment that is safe for your children. We’ll explore its characteristics, health implications, and ways to effectively address mold problems.

What is Mold?

Mold is a type of fungi that exists exactly where moisture and oxygen are present. They live both outdoors and indoors. Outdoor mold helps break down dead organic matter, while indoor mold should be avoided as it is toxic. Indoor mold thrives in an environment that has excessive moisture build-up. Usually, people do not know there is mold growing inside, and if they find out, they usually leave it be. 

There are commonly three classifications of mold, which include allergenic, toxigenic, and pathogenic mold. Allergenic mold is not toxic, but it does activate allergic reactions. Pathogenic mold is harmful for those who have pre-existing conditions, as this type of mold triggers illnesses in individuals who are weakened for various reasons. Toxigenic mold creates toxins that lead to many different types of health problems. 

Types of Common Household Molds

Chaetomium

An allergenic category of mold that can be located in water-damaged homes. Usually damaged by flooding or water leaks. 

Alternaria

An allergenic type of mold that can be seen in damp windows of kitchens and bathrooms. Alternaria is the most prevalent allergenic mold, causing allergic reactions and triggering conditions like asthma and hay fever. 

Trichoderma

A toxigenic mold type that is visible in damp soil and can grow anywhere where organic matter and lots of moisture are located. It is toxigenic because, under specific conditions, it will produce mycotoxins.

Ulocladium

An allergenic kind of mold that can be easily located in damp appliances, drywall, carpet, bathroom and other wet places like the shower, washing machine, dishwasher, and fridge water spout. 

Serpula

An allergenic category of mold that is visible in wooden structures, no matter if they are damp or not. You can tell that serpula is in your wooden house frame if it crumbles to various pieces, even if it’s dry. This is known as dry rot. 

Aspergillus

A pathogenic mold type that is quite common in the air as well as HVAC systems, specifically in any water-damaged constructions. Some types of mold cause allergic reactions, asthma, respiratory irritation, and lung infections while some produce chemicals that trigger cancer growth. 

Black Mold Or Stachybotrys 

is a toxigenic category of mold that is found in damp areas and includes ventilation symptoms. The two most toxic indoor black mold species are related to poor air quality. Usually, it is from excessive moisture and needs a licensed remediation specialist to remove it.

Black Mold Symptoms

Because black mold is a toxic mold, there are symptoms that people face when exposed such as:

  • Body aches and pain
  • Mood changes
  • Headaches and fatigue
  • Memory loss and difficulty concentrating
  • Nosebleeds
  • Respiratory issues
    • Coughing, sneezing, runny/stuffy nose, shortness of breath, and wheezing
  • Eye and skin irritation
  • Nausea and digestive issues
  • Mold poisoning from the release of mycotoxicosis

Health Risks Associated with Black Mold

Allergy

People with allergies are usually sensitive to black mold and will commonly experience:

  • Runny or blocked nose
  • Watery, red eyes
  • Dry cough
  • Skin rashes
  • Sore throat
  • Sinusitis (sinus infection)
  • Wheezing
  • Asthma
  • Hypersensitivity pneumonitis (severe case reaction)
    • Shortness of breath
    • Tiredness
    • Coughing for weeks on end
    • Weight loss

Infection

Those with a weakened immune system such as with HIV, undergoing cancer, or a transplant patient, may be at risk of fungal infections. Fungal infection or as we call it,  mycosis, is an infection caused by fungi. Fungi refers to microorganisms that include a wide range of species such as molds, mushrooms, and yeasts. Although various fungi cause no harm at all or are even beneficial, others might cause infections in individuals.

Fungal infections are responsible for affecting different body parts and may be superficial, such as skin infections, or systemic, involving internal organs. Common types of fungal infections are ringworm, athlete’s foot, systemic candidiasis, and more. 

Death

While there have been cases of death involving mold, it is usually a very rare case, where many other health factors may be involved. In the event that mold was a factor in the death of a loved one, please contact a Fresno wrongful death attorney to see if you have a case. 

Recognizing Mold in Your Environment

  • Appearance
    • Look for dark spots or clustered growths
  • Musty smell
    • Unpleasant and persistent smell
  • Common growth areas
    • Look in moist and warm rooms such as the bathroom, basement, kitchen

Mold Prevention and Remediation

Prevention

  • Regular inspection and maintenance of common mold areas in your home can mitigate the risk of mold growth
  • Leave windows and doors open, as well as run fans for ventilation when showering, cooking, or washing dishes- essentially during any activity that increases moisture
  • Use a dehumidifier to keep indoor humidity levels down
  • Fix any leaks asap
  • If your home floods, clean and dry it within 48 hours to prevent mold growth

Removal

  • Wear protective gear such as a mask, gloves, goggles, etc
  • Keep the room ventilated
  • Move items that haven’t been touched by the mold, and throw away items that can’t be cleaned of the mold
  • Cutaway and replace anything moldy, including drywall, carpet, etc
  • Scrub over molded surfaces with bleach, detergent, cold killer, water, and then dry
  • Do these individually, don’t mix and clean
  • Fix any water issues before cleaning
  • If you are unable to clean the mold, call a professional

Importance of Timely Action

Timely action is of utmost importance when dealing with mold. Early detection and intervention can prevent the escalation of mold-related health issues. Regular inspections and prompt addressing of water damage contribute to a healthier living environment.

Ignoring mold issues can lead to a range of consequences, from worsening health symptoms to structural damage. Mold can compromise the integrity of building materials and pose long-term risks to occupants. Recognizing the potential consequences underscores the need for proactive measures.

In conclusion, understanding mold-related health issues, particularly those associated with black mold, is crucial for maintaining a safe and healthy living environment. 

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