Is Toxic Black Mold in Your Home Affecting Your Health?

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Black Mold on Tiles

It is not easy to diagnose mold-related illnesses as the symptoms of toxic mold sickness vary from person to person. When young Caitlin Murray had headaches and bouts of vomiting lasting for a week or more, which are common symptoms of black mold illness, ?she underwent many tests including that for leukemia and cystic fibrosis. But the little girl’s mother had an intuition that their house in Pennington, New Jersey was to blame.

At the Children?s Hospital of Philadelphia, when Jill Murray expressed her apprehensions to the head of their diagnostic center, he advised her to leave their house. On finding black mold everywhere in their crawlspace, she left that house without haste, highly concerned that her child’s symptoms were due to black mold exposure. ?Once the family left the house, the ordeal was not over. Caitlin suffered for three more years even when she was out of the house where the toxic mold symptoms appeared.

Why does toxic mold grow indoors?

Molds are fungi that love dampness. Mold spores love to grow on moist materials of organic origin as they can derive nourishment from them. Most of the materials that go into the making of modern buildings such as wood, wallpaper and other cellulose-based materials are rather inviting for molds. And when they are damp with all the water vapor generated by modern home appliances like dishwashers, washing machines and clothes dryers working in enclosed spaces, it makes the ideal place for indoor molds to grow.

Are all indoor molds toxic?

Molds grow wherever dampness is present; both indoors and outdoors. According to the chief of Hamilton Thorne Biosciences, Meg Hamilton, identifying the species of mold is important, as “toxic molds can make you very ill”. They produce harmful substances known as mycotoxins that produce the severe symptoms of black mold sickness. Toxic molds like Stachybotrys produce allergic mold symptoms in one third of the people exposed to their spores. They can cause more serious mold exposure symptoms in the elderly and in children with asthma.

Tom Kelly from the federal government’s Environmental Protection Agency says that their toxicity in humans is not proven. But other experts working in this field are very concerned by the increasing evidence.

Mold and Home Value?

Presence of toxic mold creates concern in the homeowners for many reasons

  1. It brings down the property value
  2. It can lead to expensive litigations
  3. Damage due to mold is not included in many insurance policies

Signs of mold in your home

Visual signs of mold include discoloration (as in the case of the black mold Stachybotrys), blistering and peeling of paint, and bulges on the walls, flooring or the roof. Typical musty odors and frequent symptoms of mold allergies such as sneezing and runny nose attacks also indicate mold growth.

Who should do mold Inspections and remediation

When mold growth is less than 10 sq ft in area, cleaning it with bleach may be sufficient. When the source is not identifiable, or if the growth covers large areas, industrial hygienist should be called in:

  1. To identify and assess the extent of mold damage
  2. To determine the source of dampness
  3. To take appropriate remedial measures

To avoid conflict of interest, the person doing the inspection and drawing out the plan for remediation should not have any connection with the firm undertaking the cleanup. Mold remediation should include rectifying the root cause of the problem so that mold exposure symptoms do not return.

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