Extensive water damage after major rains and floods increases the likelihood of mold contamination in buildings. Rapid can assist you to limit exposure to mold and how to identify and prevent mold-related health effects.
Some molds are capable of producing toxins (mycotoxins) under specific environmental conditions, such as competition from other organisms or changes in the moisture or available nutrient supply. Molds capable of producing toxins are popularly known as toxigenic molds; however, use of this term is discouraged because even molds known to produce toxins can grow without producing them (6). Many fungi are capable of toxin production, and different fungi can produce the same toxin
Although molds can be found almost anywhere, they need moisture and nutrients to grow. The exact specifications for optimal mold growth vary by the species of mold. However, mold grows best in damp, warm environments. The availability of nutrients in indoor environments rarely limits mold growth because wood, wallboard, wallpaper, upholstery, and dust can be nutrient sources. Similarly, the temperature of indoor environments, above freezing and below the temperature for denaturing proteins, can support mold growth.
The primary factor that limits the growth of mold indoors is lack of moisture. Substantial indoor mold growth is virtually synonymous with the presence of moisture inside the building envelope. This intrusion of moisture might be from rainwater leaking through faulty gutters or a roof in disrepair, from a foundation leak, from condensation at an interface (e.g., windows or pipes), or between a cold and a warm environment. Water also can come from leaks in the plumbing or sewage system inside the structure. Studies of mold growth on building materials, such as plywood, have found that mold grows on materials that remain wet for 48–72 hours. Flooding, particularly when floodwaters remain for days or weeks, provides an almost optimal opportunity for mold growth.
Many of the major noninfectious health effects of mold exposure begin with allergies. Exposure to mold can sensitize persons, who then might experience symptoms when re-exposed to the same mold species. For sensitized persons, hay fever symptoms and asthma exacerbations are prominent manifestations of mold allergy. Although different mold species might have different propensities to cause allergy, available data do not permit a relative ranking of species by risk for creating or exacerbating allergy.
Prolonged exposure to high levels of mold (and some bacterial species) can produce an immune-mediated disease known as hypersensitivity pneumonitis (13). Clinically, hypersensitivity pneumonitis is known by the variety of exposures that can cause this disorder (e.g., farmer’s lung, woodworker’s lung, and malt worker’s lung).
Ingesting toxins that molds produce can cause disease. Longterm ingestion of aflatoxins (produced by Aspergillus species) has been associated with hepatocellular cancer (14). In addition, ingestion of high doses of aflatoxin in contaminated food causes aflatoxicosis and can result in hepatic failure (11). Whether concentrations of airborne mold toxins are high enough to cause human disease through inhalation is unknown, and no health effects from airborne exposure to mold-related toxins are proven.
Don’t assume if There Is No Mold Problem Because Of No Visible Mold Growth – The worst mold infestation problems are often the ones you cannot see inside floors, ceilings, walls, basements, attics, crawl spaces, and the heating/cooling equipment and ducts. Airborne mold spores are invisible to the eye, very light, and are easily carried in air current movements or in the air flows of your heating/cooling system to mold cross-contaminate your entire house from just one hidden mold problem. Here is what you can do to detect invisible mold in your home:
- Test the air of your basement, attic, all rooms, and the outward air flow from each heating/cooling register for the possible presence of elevated levels of airborne mold spores, in comparison to an outdoor mold control test.
- Use a hidden moisture meter to scan all walls and floors for hidden water problems.
- Use a fiber optics inspection device to check for mold growth inside wall, floor, and ceiling cavities