Mold represents a large, vast group of fungal species that result in bio-degradation of natural material such as paper, fabric, wood and perishable items alike. Molds are ubiquitous and spread through the production of tiny spores, which are present in all outdoor and indoor environments naturally. Windows, doorways and ventilation systems are all points which spores can enter a structure. Clothing, shoes and pets also facilitate the arrival of mold within a structure. Molds thrive in moist, warm and humid environments. When mold spores land on a damp spot they can begin to grow, digesting the material they are growing on as they do so.
Mold-growth can many times be found in areas where plumbing leaks, water intrusion, flooding have occurred and where condensation builds up. Wet cellulose materials such as gypsum or drywall are most supportive of mold growth. Paper products, cardboard, ceiling tiles, wallpaper, insulation materials and upholstery area also commonly impacted with mold-growth.
A few of the most common indoor mold genera include:
- Alternaria – thrive in damp places indoors, such as showers or under leaky sinks
- Aspergillus – often observed indoors growing on dust food items and building materials, such as drywall
- Cladosporium – thrive in both of cool as well as warm areas. It is commonly observed on fabrics and wood surfaces
- Aspergillus / Penicillium – often observed on materials that have been damaged by water and often has a blue or green appearance.
Molds demonstrate a variety of different forms and textures. They can appear as white, black, blue, green, yellow or pink and can many times be mistaken for discoloration or staining. Molds can have a smooth, velvety, fuzzy or rough appearance, depending on type and where it is growing.
The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has stated that “if mold is a problem in your home, you should clean up the mold promptly and fix the water problem.”
Some molds such as Stachybotrys, Fusarium, Aspergillus Fumigatus have potential to produce a number of harmful mycotoxins. Mycotoxins are natural by-products produced during the metabolism cycle of fungi which produce known neurotoxins, nefrotoxins and even genotoxins. These toxins are know to cause disease and death in humans and other vertebrates. In addition to physical and neurological damage, some mycotoxins such as Tricothecene T-2 and Aflatoxin B1 have proven highly carcinogenic in nature. Mold that do not produce the harmful toxins do pose risk as allergens and irritants causing hypersensitivity, pneumonitis and aspergillosis in individuals who are particularly sensitive to them.
Prof. Stephen Spiro, the deputy chairman of the British Lung Foundation in the UK, informed MNT that the presence of indoor mold can go further than simply exacerbating pre-existing conditions:
“Certain mold species can cause serious lung infections and scarring. For instance, in some asthmatics, inhaling the spores of a species of mold called aspergillus can lead to a condition called allergic bronchopulmonary aspergillosis, which can impact on the breathing.”
Mold allergies produce similar symptoms to other allergies to airborne substances affecting the upper respiratory tract, such as pollinosis. These include:
Sinus Pressure/Sinus Congestion
Burning Sinus Passages
According to the CDC. people with a mold allergy(s) that also have asthma are at an increased risk of having their asthma symptoms triggered by a moldy environment, according to the CDC.