Mold Exposure and Health Risks
Exposure to damp and moldy environments may cause a variety of health effects. Some people are sensitive to molds. For these people, molds can cause nasal stuffiness, throat irritation, coughing or wheezing, eye irritation, or, in some cases, skin irritation. People with mold allergies may have more severe reactions. Immune-compromised people and people with chronic lung illnesses, such as obstructive lung disease, may get serious infections in their lungs when they are exposed to mold. In 2004 the Institute of Medicine (IOM) 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.
Where is mold found in the home?
Mold is found both indoors and outdoors. Mold can enter your home through open doorways, windows, vents, and heating and air conditioning systems. Mold in the air outside can also attach itself to clothing, shoes, bags, and pets can and be carried indoors.
Mold will grow in places with a lot of moisture, such as around leaks in roofs, windows, or pipes, or where there has been flooding. Mold grows well on paper products, cardboard, ceiling tiles, and wood products. Mold can also grow in dust, paints, wallpaper, insulation, drywall, carpet, fabric, and upholstery.
Should you have your home inspected for mold?
If mold is readily visible, you do not need an inspection. You simply need to take care of the mold that you see. However, if visible mold is not present, but the smell of mold is- then a mold test can reveal whether there is indeed an elevated mold level. A second instance where mold inspection is helpful is if there have been plumbing leaks or water issues. In this case, there may be a suspicion that mold may exist in the air and/or behind walls. A third instance is if a family doctor cannot pinpoint the cause of a patient health issue, but it seems to be related to mold exposure.