The Health Effects of Breathing Mold

The Health Effects of Breathing Mold

October 22, 2020

At Mold Inspection Network, we believe it is of the utmost importance to educate the public about the health risks associated with breathing mold. When a home possesses an infestation of toxic mold, this can have harmful health effects on those with a genetic predisposition to developing a mold-based illness. 

While we are not doctors, all of the information presented in this article will be based on scientific studies into the health effects of breathing mold. If you or a loved one is suffering from symptoms associated with breathing mold, it is highly recommended that you consult with a certified health professional as well as contact a mold remediation specialist in order to identify and remove the threat of mold in your household. 

In this article, we will be addressing what mold is, how it can infect someone with a genetic predisposition to mold-based illness, as well as the health effects and symptoms associated with breathing mold. In order to best prevent the health risks associated with mold in your home, it is crucial that you are educated about the dangers presented by mold. While there is still much scientific research needed to address the fullest extent of mold-based illnesses, Mold Inspection Network believes that it is essential to educate yourself on what is known so far. Let’s get started!

What is Mold?

Before we address the specific health effects of breathing mold, it is crucial to understand what mold is. Mold is a non-scientific term for a variety of different types of fungi. Mold appears in many different forms and is often observed as fuzzy patches of either brown, black, pink, yellow, or green growths. There are thousands of different types of mold and, while many are harmless in moderation, some forms of mold have been proven to produce toxins, known as mycotoxins, that can have a significant effect on our health and wellness. It should be noted that in order to grow, mold needs a warm, moist environment. Mold and its spores can grow practically anywhere but need both humid and moist conditions to truly thrive. 

Although mold is unsightly and can produce a foul odor, the potential problems posed by an infestation can prove more troublesome than that. For one, actively growing patches of mold have damaging effects on the material that is hosting it. This compromises the structural integrity of these surfaces. Aside from that, mold also poses certain health risks to a percentage of the population. These risks can be in the form of either allergies or serious infections depending on the genetic predisposition of those affected. 

Some of the most common forms of mold found in homes include Aspergillus (which we will talk about more in-depth later on), Acremonium, Stachybotrys (black mold), Trichoderma, Penicillium, Epicoccum, Cladosporum, and more. Mold growths can be tested either through the use of at-home mold testing kits or the services of a reputable mold remediation specialist. Remember that even if mold isn’t visible, mold growths can still release spores into the air, raising the chances of an airborne infection or allergy. 

How Does Mold Infect a Person?

So how does mold infect a person with a genetic predisposition to mold-based illnesses? Put simply, when mold growths occur in a home, certain types of molds release mold spores. These mold spores are released as a means of fungi reproduction. In order to spread, fungi must release spores that then travel through the air in order to land and survive on surfaces. While mold favors a moist, warm environment to grow into an infestation, it should be noted that mold spores can remain dormant for long periods of time even under dry conditions. These spores will develop into growths of mold only when introduced to the right environment. 

Considering that these mold spores travel through the air, it makes sense that mold infects those susceptible through the air. When a person with a genetic predisposition to mold-based illnesses breathes in these spores, they are introduced to the body. From there, they can have negative health effects as they are introduced to the body’s immune system. Certain individuals, thanks to unique genetic coding, are then infected as their bodies neglect to fight off these foreign substances. This is where mold-based illnesses and symptoms are born. 

In regards to allergies, it should be noted that killing mold spores does not eliminate the risks of developing allergies. Those susceptible to mold allergies can even breathe in dead mold spores and suffer from allergies. For this reason, many mold remediation specialists advise completely removing surfaces infected with mold spores from the home entirely. 

Health Effects Associated with Breathing Mold

There are a variety of health effects associated with breathing mold and these issues come along with symptoms that can range in severity. Mold grows easily in warm, damp indoor environments and, oftentimes, those who spend a lot of time in these environments complain of respiratory effects among many other symptoms. 

One particular form of mold to consider when discussing the health effects associated with breathing mold is Aspergillus. Aspergillus is very common in both indoor and outdoor environments and has been linked to the development of a lung infection known as Aspergillosis. Aspergillosis is caused by inhaling the spores released by Aspergillus mold growths. While many people inhale these spores every day and face no health complications, those with weaker immune systems are at risk for developing this opportunistic fungal infection. While rare, developing Aspergillosis is very possible for those with weakened immune systems. 

Among other symptoms caused by the inhalation of mold spores, we look to an extensive report completed by the Institute of Medicine. In this report, experts found a positive correlation between damp indoor environments and respiratory illnesses. These respiratory illnesses brought on symptoms that include the following:

  • Upper respiratory symptoms (nose and throat)
  • Wheezing
  • Coughing
  • Asthma symptoms
  • Shortness of breath
  • Lower respiratory symptoms in children

How to Clean the Air of Mold

Now that you understand the health risks associated with breathing mold, you are likely wondering what you can do to clean the air in your home of mold, lessening the chances that you and your family will develop a mold-based illness or allergy. One of the best ways to purify your home’s air of mold is to purchase a HEPA air purifier. These work to clean the home’s air. 

When airborne mold spores are pulled into a HEPA air purifier, they are trapped and die. Mold spores cannot reproduce within a HEPA air purifier as there isn’t enough moisture to allow for growth. We believe it is important to note that the whole home return filters found in HEPA air purifiers should be changed according to the instructions given by the manufacturer to ensure it remains effective in cleansing the air. 

While having a professional mold remediation team remove airborne mold, you can help save costs incurred by performing the air test yourself. We offer a professional air test which involves the same air testing materials, including the air pump, that professional mold companies use. Save yourself hundreds upfront by renting our test before calling for remediation. 

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