Black Mold Symptoms
cause health problems and need to be dealt with right away (and the steps that are to be taken in case of mold infestation) can be of a great help.
Mildew or mold can grow just about any place it wants. All mold needs to grow is a source of moisture. This can be from a water leak, condensation, humid environment or anything else that creates moisture. Mold and Mildew is a type of fungi that grows on various surfaces in the form of powdery or downy substance. Mold growth is usually seen on humid/damp surfaces in surroundings with moderate temperature and not much light is needed.. While mold growth on walls, wood, clothes, food, carpets or even your leather sofa, is prominent, it is not confined to these surfaces alone. In fact, mold can also grow in the attic, basements, and crawl spaces, etc. Mold can even grow in your central air system.
The humidity level/dampness is the most important factor contributing to mold growth, and it can be attributed to several conditions including leakage which causes water dripping and dampens the surrounding area, high humidity in surrounding environment, condensation phenomenon, and so on. Even though molds are present everywhere, it is their quantity and the mycotoxins that they tend to produce which make them a health hazard. The term 'toxic mold' refers to those molds which produce mycotoxins and pose a serious threat to humans. One of the best examples is the black mold (Stachybotrys chartarum and Stachybotrys chlorohalonata).
What are the Signs of Mold?
Have you ever walked into a house or building and you were fine before you enter but afterwards within the first hour you have a sinus headache or you have watery eyes or you feel plugged up like you have a cold. Well, these are common signs of mold and mildew. You can also detect the growth of toxic mold within your house or building by looking out for some telltale signs. These telltale signs of mold growth, which range from formation of greenish-black colored patches on the walls to increasing instances of health issues in people occupying the 'said' structure, are discussed more below.
Moisture on the Surfaces: Moisture or dampness on surfaces (of wall, wood, clothes, etc.) can be treated as the very first sign of mildew growth. While moisture does not necessarily indicate the presence of mold, it is an important condition for mold formation and growth. If you reside in a region wherein Relative Humidity is higher than 55%, you should keep an eye for mold infestation in your home.
Unusual Odor: Mildew or musty odors is one of the most prominent signs of mold growth on surfaces. At times, you may only experience this 'unusual' smell when your air conditioner or HVAC system is on. If that is the case, you will have the check the particular equipment for mold growth as it usually happens when mold forms within the equipment. If you experience any unusual odor near damp/humid surfaces, you should look out for the other signs of mold growth.
Stains on the Wall: Yellowish stains on the wall caused due to moisture help initial growth of mold. You need to look out for the greenish, blackish or brownish-colored patches on the damp wall as these patches characterize mold growth on the walls. Other than these black damp spores on walls, cracked or peeling paint can also be a sign of the presence of mold.
Respiratory System Response in People: If one or more people occupying the structure experience some kind of allergic reaction or respiratory problem when they are indoors, then there is a possibility of high mold growth. Again this is just one of the several signs, and you need to look out for other signs to ascertain the presence of mold within the house.
Poisoning due to the Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) formed by the mold is one of the most prominent signs of potential mold growth. After mold formation, it needs nutrition to grow, which it obtains by degrading the surface on which it is growing. During the process of degrading the surface for nutrition, the black mold on the wall contributes to the formation of VOCs. High exposure to VOCs formed by mold can affect human respiratory and central nervous systems, and even cause irritation to mucous membranes.
Mold Poisoning SymptomsBlack mold poisoning occurs when a person is exposed to the mycotoxins produced by this mold species as he inhales air contaminated with mold spores or when he eats food contaminated with it. The severity of poisoning symptoms depends on the exposure time and the quantity of spores that the person was exposed to. Allergic reactions of the respiratory and/or the nervous system are by far the most obvious symptoms of mold poisoning. Other than these, the poisoning symptoms range from chronic fatigue and reddening of eyes to infertility and miscarriage.
The most common mold symptoms are:
- Difficulty in breathing
- Inability to cope with stress
- Vision problems
- Memory loss
- Reddening of eyes
- Frequent upper respiratory infections
- Lack of concentration
- Ringing in the ears
- Hearing loss
- Sensitivity to sound
- Chronic cough
- Dirt like taste in mouth
- Chronic fatigue
- Swollen lymph nodes
- Headaches and dizziness
- Hair loss
- Stomach ulcers
- Muscle twitching
- Joint pains
- Nausea and vomiting
- Allergies to food
- Panic attacks
- Mood swings, irritability
- Heart problems
- Infections of urinary tract, problems in urination, etc.
- Bleeding in lungs
- Anaphylaxis on re-exposure to toxic molds
- Nosebleeds and pulmonary hemorrhaging (especially in infants.)
- Damage to the digestive and respiratory systems.
- Development of rashes and hives on skin.
- Problems caused due to irritation in mucous membranes.
- Irregularity in blood pressure.
- Pain in liver and other internal organs.
As we mentioned earlier, molds are ubiquitous in nature, i.e. they are found everywhere - including your home and workplace, and hence it is nearly impossible to get rid of them. However, it is possible to control the growth of mold on surfaces by taking some precautionary measures which ensure that the conditions hospitable for mold growth don't occur in the first place. Discussed below are some simple measures which will help you do away with mold, and the health hazards they pose.
Moisture is one of the most important factors when it comes to mold growth, and thus the best way to keep a check on mold growth is to keep a check on the humidity levels within your home. You can use a dehumidifier to help remove excess moisture and humidity and help keep mold from growing in the home.
If there is any water leakage/intrusion, pipe leak, roof leak, condensation problem, etc., it should be promptly repaired.
You will have to ensure that the air conditioners, HVAC systems, and air/ventilation ducts are clean, as the mold formed in these systems usually goes unnoticed and therefore is more dangerous.
Bathrooms are the most prone places for mold formation and growth, and therefore you should clean the tiles, curtains and appliances inside the bathroom regularly to avoid mold infestation.
Use of air purifiers to cleanse the air inside your house is yet another option to tackle mold infestation as these air purifiers help in reducing the airborne particles of mold spores.
You can also resort to some paints/anti-mold products available in the market as these products can resist moisture to a certain extent, and help in prevention of mold.
In conclusion, it is very important to monitor the humidity levels in your surroundings and take necessary precautions to make sure that you don't provide haven for molds by leaving damp corners in your house. If you live in some area wherein high humidity levels prevail, then you need to keep an eye for black mold growth and health hazards associated with it.