The six-fold increase in asthma in children over the last decade has been attributed to worsening indoor air quality. The main cause of poor indoor air quality is mold infestation, which causes immune reactions that lead to the respiratory symptoms of mold exposure such as chronic cough and asthma. Now research conducted by the WHO is implicating toxic mold sickness in different types of cancers such as breast and the prostrate cancer. While One third of the population are affected in one way or the other by toxic molds, one tenth of them have severe symptoms of toxic mold illness ranging from flu-like symptoms to sinusitis, pneumonia or even cancer.
Toxic molds love to grow in damp and humid homes. It is essential to keep track of the humidity levels in different rooms with a hygrometer. A thorough visual examination should be conducted regularly to spot signs of moisture seepage on the interiors and exteriors of the house. Winter is the ideal time for mold inspection, but for basements it should be repeated in summer too.
Excessive dampness and toxic mold growth can cause symptoms of mold illness also known as “sick building syndrome”. The extremely dangerous Stachybotrys needs high humidity of more than 80% to get established initially, but thereafter it can survive with just 55 % humidity. This black mold is one of the most common toxic molds found in homes and causes the most severe symptoms of black mold toxicity.
Some Common Causes of Toxic Mold Growth Inside Homes
- Lack of ventilation due to trees and bushes growing close to the house
- Ground water evaporation through concrete floors in garages and basement
- Stacking storage boxes and furniture against exterior walls
- Insufficient or faulty insulation leading to condensation
- Lack of maintenance of air conditioning system and dehumidifiers
- Plumbing leaks and roof leaks
- Drying clothes inside homes and using cloth dryers in poorly ventilated areas
- Keeping indoor plants and aquariums
Stale, moist, air and damp walls, invite the spores of toxic molds such as that of Stachybotrys to proliferate in suitable surfaces behind wallpaper and under floor boards. A few visible spots of black mold may be indicating large areas of mold growth in hidden places. The spores released from those areas can poison the air and cause a number of black mold symptoms to arise in the occupants.
Measures to Prevent Toxic Mold Growth
- Keep the home well-ventilated using exhaust fans in bathrooms, kitchen and wash areas.
- Install efficient furnaces with proper supply of combustion air.
- Avoid using humidifiers when humidity is 30% or above.
- Do not clean carpets with steam during winter.
- Seal off earthen floors in the crawl space with thick sheets of polythene.
- Check plumbing regularly and stem leaks as soon as they occur.
- Ensure proper sealing of windows and openings to the attic.
- Have technicians check the heating and air conditioning ducts and maintain them in good condition.
Home Remedies against Toxic Mold
- Spray hydrogen peroxide solution of 10 to 30% strength to Gyproc and wood to remove mold growth.
- Apply one part chlorine bleach mixed with two parts water on walls with moldy growth. Wipe off after 15 minutes.
Protective gear should be used while cleaning toxic mold. Children and those with respiratory symptoms of mold illnesses should stay away during clean up. Ensure proper ventilation in the area. If black mold growth of more than ten square feet is detected, remediation should be done with professional help.