Mold on the walls causes great damage to the body, but not everyone is aware of it. Often people do not realize that it is mold that causes their ailments and diseases, and in the meantime their health deteriorates.
In this article we tell you why mold appears in the apartments, how it is dangerous for the body, for whom the harm of mold is the highest and how to protect the body from its effects.
What is mold and why does it appear in apartments?
Mold is a black, gray or dark green stain on the walls of bathrooms, kitchens and living rooms, which appear due to the reproduction of microscopic fungi. Mold fungi develop from spores that are invisible to the eye and are always in the outdoor and indoor air.
Outdoors, mold fungi live in fallen leaves, branches, wet soil, and rotting plants. The fungi recycle these dead organic matter and return the carbon compounds to the soil, enriching it.
Mold spores are brought indoors on clothing, shoes, and pet hair, as well as through open windows and doors. There is also a breeding ground for mold in the apartment – finishing materials, furniture, paper, and fabrics.
But the nutrient supply alone is not sufficient for the growth of mold. Active reproduction of mold fungi and, as a consequence, mold growth begins when conditions are favorable for it: relative humidity above 60% and temperature of +68°F. The fungi feed on the finishing materials of the apartment and destroy them. Over time, the apartment develops a pungent, musty smell.
Mold spores are widespread but can reproduce and show signs of mold only at high humidity and temperatures above +68°F.
The main reason for high levels of moisture in an apartment is poor ventilation, which causes moisture to accumulate in the room and not be removed. Humidity also increases as a result of insufficient or uneven heating, leaking windows, frosty walls, a damp basement, leaking pipes or a roof. In addition, dampness in the apartment is caused by frequent showers or baths, drying laundry inside the apartment and cooking large amounts of food.
Use an electronic hygrometer or a home weather station to monitor the humidity of the air and avoid over-humidification. Consider that the optimal indoor humidity in winter is 30-45%, and in summer 30-60%, such indicators are favorable for the human body, but are not suitable for active growth of mold.
Health hazards of mold
When a person is in rooms with mold lesions surfaces, he breathes in mold spores, dust with products of fungi and their dead microparticles. When breathing in the human body also enter the poisonous substances released by mold fungi in the process of life – mycotoxins. In addition, the spores are deposited on human skin and food. Thus, mold affects not only the respiratory tract, but also the mucous membranes, skin and stomach.
The impact of mold on the body is not always obvious: a person may not see it because the mold fungus is not yet visible or is in a hidden place, such as under the wallpaper, behind the furniture, under the flooring or the sink. This is why the symptoms caused by inhaling mold are difficult to detect, the start of treatment is delayed, and the harm to the body worsens in the meantime.
Often people don’t realize that the alarming symptoms are caused by mold exposure and not something else, so the start of adequate treatment is delayed. In addition, treatment can be ineffective because the person continues to live in a damp room with mold.
Deterioration of general well-being
Inhaling mold spores can cause symptoms that people often do not associate with the presence of fungus in the home:
- Constant weakness,
- Frequent headaches,
- nasal bleeding,
- impaired sleep,
- impaired attention span,
- impaired ability to work.
These symptoms are caused by general intoxication of the body with poisonous substances released by mold – mycotoxins. Mycotoxins can accumulate in the body and over time increase the harmful effects on health.
Once on the skin, mold fungus spores can cause diseases accompanied by red and itchy skin:
- skin mycosis.
When breathing, mold spores settle in the bronchi and lungs, penetrating deep into the tissues, causing a person to have a cough, wheezing, runny nose.
Prolonged exposure to mold can lead to respiratory diseases such as:
- Chronic bronchitis,
If these diseases have already developed in a chronic form, inhalation of mold spores causes their complications.
In asthmatics, exposure to mold spores provokes a worsening of the disease – choking attacks, wheezing and coughing. Several studies also show that mold inhalation can also cause asthma in previously healthy people, especially children.
Inhaling mold spores or getting them on the skin can provoke allergic reactions:
- sneezing, runny nose,
- Skin rashes,
- Redness of the mucous membranes in the eyes,
It is impossible to distinguish the symptoms of mold allergy from other types of allergies, so you need to see a doctor and take tests to get an accurate diagnosis.
The most allergenic mold species found indoors are Cladosporium, Aspergillus, Alternaria and Penicillium. Tests can be used to determine sensitivity to one of the mold species or to learn about reactions to common mold species in general.
Mold also triggers asthma attacks in asthmatics who are sensitive to mold spores.
Weakened immune system
The constant struggle of the immune system with ingestion of mold spores reduces the overall defenses, so the body cannot withstand the infection to its full potential. Because of this, a person gets sick more often with acute respiratory infections and flu, and recovers slower. In addition, viral infection can be joined by bacterial infection, which also increases the severity of the disease and delays the recovery.
Against a background of reduced immunity, a person can contract respiratory tract infections caused by inhaling mold particles. Inhaling mold fungi of the genus Aspergillus, for example, leads to aspergillosis, an infection that primarily affects the respiratory tract and then other organs.
The disease initially appears as aspergillosis bronchitis or tracheobronchitis – weakness, cough, then aspergillosis pneumonia can develop, and the disease can affect the stomach, brain and skin. People with immunodeficiency are most susceptible to contracting aspergillosis, and the disease is the leading cause of death in acute leukemia and hematopoietic cell transplantation.
Once deposited on food, mold spores and mycotoxins enter the digestive system and can cause serious stomach upsets and poisoning. The liver then begins to fight the toxins, but with constant and intensive exposure to mold it can no longer cope with the destruction of all mycotoxins, leading to severe intoxication, liver failure or cirrhosis.
In mold-infested apartments, the accompanying high humidity is also detrimental to the health of the occupants: the body’s thermoregulation is impaired, chronic diseases are exacerbated, seasonal illnesses are exacerbated, and the effects of dust mites and toxic fumes are increased.
Risk groups for the harmful effects of mold
Mold is dangerous to the health of all people, but it is most harmful to people with immunity weakened by age, illness or a special condition:
- Children, whose immunity is still imperfect,
- the elderly,
- pregnant women,
- people with allergies,
- People with chronic respiratory or skin diseases,
- people with diabetes,
- People after surgery or chemotherapy,
- people taking antibiotics,
- People with immune deficiencies.
A person’s reaction to mold depends on their sensitivity to it, their state of health, the concentration of mold spores in the air, and the duration of their exposure to the body.
Some real cases of black mold poisoning
Black mold poisoning is a serious health hazard that can cause a variety of symptoms. Unfortunately, it can be difficult to diagnose, as the symptoms can be similar to those of other illnesses. In this article, we will look at five cases of black mold poisoning and how it was discovered in each case.
A woman in her mid-30s began to experience a range of symptoms, including headaches, fatigue, and difficulty concentrating. After a series of tests, it was discovered that she had been exposed to black mold in her home.
A young man in his early 20s began to experience a range of symptoms, including nausea, dizziness, and difficulty breathing. After a series of tests, it was discovered that he had been exposed to black mold in his workplace.
An elderly woman in her late 70s began to experience a range of symptoms, including chest pain, shortness of breath, and coughing. After a series of tests, it was discovered that she had been exposed to black mold in her apartment.
A middle-aged man in his mid-40s began to experience a range of symptoms, including joint pain, fever, and difficulty sleeping. After a series of tests, it was discovered that he had been exposed to black mold in his basement.
A young woman in her early 20s began to experience a range of symptoms, including headaches, fatigue, and difficulty concentrating. After a series of tests, it was discovered that she had been exposed to black mold in her dorm room.
In all five cases, the symptoms were similar, but the source of the black mold poisoning was different. This highlights the importance of being aware of the potential sources of black mold poisoning and seeking medical attention if you experience any of the symptoms.
Mold damage to the body prevention
In order to avoid the damaging effects of mold it is not sufficient to remove mold from the walls and furniture or to treat them with special substances. You must eliminate all sources of moisture, heating and ventilation to prevent mold from reappearing.
- Mold spores are common everywhere, but their reproduction and the appearance of traces of fungus occurs only at relative humidity above 60% and temperatures of +68°F or higher.
- Mold can make you feel sick, weaken your immune system, and cause respiratory, skin and gastrointestinal illnesses.
- Often people do not associate the occurrence of disease symptoms with mold in the apartment. This complicates treatment of the disease or makes it impossible.
- Mold is most damaging to immunocompromised people, including children, the elderly, and pregnant women.