Mold is the term given to different types of fungi which reproduce by forming tiny spores, so small that they cannot be seen by the naked eye. These spores travel through the air until they find a habitat which is moist and then they start to grow. That is when the various types of mold can become visible. While certain molds are toxigenic, meaning they can produce toxins (specifically mycotoxins), the molds themselves are not toxic, or poisonous. However, because more than 200 species of mold are toxin-producing, this means that they are potentially poisonous and the health dangers from them are many. The molds which can cause health dangers are usually found indoors and can be white or greenish in color or, in the case of Stachybotrys atra, black which gives it the more commonly-used name, Black Mold.
The toxins produced by mold can be very harmful and the health dangers from mold are many and varied. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), all molds have the potential to cause ill health. Mold is hazardous to health because inhabitants of moldy spaces may not be aware that it exists and are therefore unknowingly breathing in mold spores which accumulate in the body and in the brain, resulting in conditions such as allergies, headaches infections and respiratory conditions. If someone suddenly develops a runny nose, asthma, cough or sinus issues which don’t respond to conventional treatment, they would be wise to investigate their home or workplace for mold. Exposure to mold and how affects the body, can differ from person to person. Symptoms depend, in part, on the types of mold present, the extent of exposure, general health and existing sensitivities or allergies.
Molds are very common in buildings and homes where they thrive and spread in damp conditions. Indoor mold can often be found in attics, under carpets, behind drywall, in insulation, leather, fabrics, and foods. Any time an area of a building has been exposed to a leak or dampness, it should be thoroughly checked for the presence of mold which presents as fuzzy, musty growths of differing colors. If you notice bowed buckled floorboards, a new water stain on a wall, discolored carpet, or black or white specks on a surface it is time to investigate. Mold breaks down and destroys any material it grows on which can impinge on the safety of a building.
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