Thursday, March 3, 2011

Mold exposure!!!

As my last two posts were written in haste, I didn't have the time to sit down and explain just what black mold is. Mold itself is actually a necessary and beneficial part of our ecological balance. Without it, decomposition of organic materials would be slow going, and we'd have a lot more waste to deal with. The only real issue there is with mold, as with most things in nature, is when it decided to take up residence in our homes. Toxic black mold thrives in moist environments, and if the cause of the moisture isn't dealt with quickly and effectively, mold spores take up residence and spread quickly to other areas of the house. These airborne spores have negative and sometimes very serious effects on human health.

Not my house... but it's almost pretty.

The University of Minnesota has this to say about mold and its effects on human health;
"Molds have the potential to cause harmful side effects to humans. Before they can cause such side effects, they must first enter the human body and then be distributed to the appropriate site within the body. Once the molds reach their intended site, they go through a basic metabolic process. It should be noted that the metabolic processes that each mold experiences is typically the same. Molds colonize on an organic food source, consuming it. Within the human body, the byproduct of such process is typically a poison to humans, called mycotoxin.

Mycotoxins are the reason for the adverse health effects in humans. These health effects include inflammations, allergies, and/or infections. Mold spores enter the body through inhalation and ingestion. They can also be absorbed into the body through the skin. Once they enter the body, they can become harmful depending on the sensitivity of the individual, toxicity of the mold, and susceptibility of the exposed individual. It has been found that mold spores that are inhaled have greater toxicity to humans than those absorbed by the skin or ingested. Molds can also be an antigen to the body."

As is the case with most mothers, my main concern is my son., and it's generally accepted among the medical community that babies and infants living in houses with mold are at risk of acute idiopathic pulmonary hemorrhage. When my docter told me about this, I was shocked to hear that this condition characterized by bleeding of the lungs and in many cases, is fatal. Additionally, babies growing up in damp homes where mold and mildew are present develop more respiratory illnesses such as croup, pneumonia, and bronchitis. This finding appears in the July issue of the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine. 

I should mention, do-it-yourself black mold removal is never recommended if the mold problem has spread to more then 10 feet, as the spores are microscopic and can spread to clothes and other sources of  moisture when you take the walls apart. Often, you end up doing more harm then good by aiding the mold spores in spreading. Only a professional contractor will know how to eliminate the moisture source that is causing the mold growth and also easily figure out if there is more than just what meets the eye in terms of mold damage. Also, although it will temporarily fix the situation, Chlorine bleach is not really an effective long term solution because it lacks penetration and its effects do not last.

If you end up in a rented dwelling with a mold problem, bring it up to the landlord. Have him or her sign an agreement and set a date or timeline for the mold and underlying cause of the mold (a leak or other source of moisture) to be dealt with. Have them sign it, and get a copy. Be sure they follow the timeline, and don't let them put it off. Mold should be dealt with immediately. If the mold issue seems to be too large (more then 10 feet) for them to do it themselves, protect their safety as well as the safety of your belongings and tell them that you want a professional to come in and deal with the problem. If you're unsure of anything, or if they reject this idea, contact the tenants board. they will answer all of your questions and see to it that a professional is hired to clean up the issue out of your landlords wallet.  Most importantly, be informed about your rights so you're not taken advantage of. Don't be afraid to ask for things in writing, and ask questions. There are some really great landlords, but there are landlords who don't care for the health of their tenants. The latter bunch are just in it for a quick buck and will try to cut costs at the expense of your health. Don't let them intimidate you. You have the upper hand and the responsibility to not let them exploit you or your family.



  1. So you called the Tenancy board? What are your plans!!

  2. It is true that molds are also an important part of our eco-system. It serves as a “decomposer” and breaks down particles of dead organisms back to the environment. But molds in houses and properties are never a good sign. It indicates low property value and major health risk. The toxins produced by molds are harmful to humans. Aside from respiratory ailments, it can lead to liver damage and poor health for infants and kids. And I do agree on calling professional help when the infestation of molds is too hard to contain. A qualified remediation team knows how to handle severe cases of mold infestation.

  3. To avoid being a victim of a house filled with mold and mildew, make sure you check the house and look for the slightest sign of mold spores prior to signing the contract. If you find any, bring it to the attention of the owner immediately so they can act accordingly.

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