Mold is never something to play around with. Whether it’s growing on your toilet, sink, tub, ceiling, or floor, if it is allowed to grow, it can quickly spread and become a harmful, unwelcome roommate. Beginning in dark, damp, moist places, mold can stretch into old food or the structure of a recently flooded area. If it is not removed soon, it can quickly become a hazard to the quality of your home and the quality of your health. Mold has also been linked to fatalities and serious injuries. But how dangerous is mold? How specifically harmful can it be?
What Exactly is Mold?
Mold is the umbrella term for over a thousand similar species of fungi. The growth of the fungi can lead to discoloration of their source of energy. While plants get their energy from photosynthesis, fungi get their energy from a source, such as food or a dark, damp environment. As mold grows, it branches out like a network of roots, and when many networks grow together, the results can become dangerous. The spores that mold creates grow in different colors depending on the species, yet the colors are often shades of green, black, brown, orange, pink, or purple.
Beneficial mold can be used to produce food, drinks, and even antibiotics, but molds that you may occasionally notice around your household are almost harmless in very small doses. Molds are a common factor of normal air, such as dust. As mold grows, however, it can become a dangerous hazard to your breathing.
The Dangers of Mold
Molds can produce mycotoxins which are harmful to both humans and their beloved pets. Prolonged exposure to mold can be very harmful. When molds produce mycotoxins, they are considered various types of “toxic mold” which live up to their name. Many symptoms are caused by exposure to mold, including:
- Watery or itchy eyes
- Chronic cough
- Difficulty breathing
- Nasal blockage
- Neurological issues
Molds can be found in dark, damp, and moist areas. Rooms that are often steamy are also susceptible to mold growth. Areas with poor ventilation are also common areas. Specific areas include bathrooms, basements, kitchens, and recently flooded areas. Think of it like this: if water is a large factor in the specific use of the room itself, then precautions must be taken against mold. Precautions can include keeping the room dry and cleaning with a commercial cleaner.
With the scientific name of Stachybotrys chartarum, black mold is as violent as it sounds. After a flood or water damage, black mold is the most likely mold that will grow in the affected areas. Humans and animals alike have suffered from symptoms and health issues born from black mold, and the health issues have been documented since the 1930s. Toxins can be released that can lead to black mold poisoning. In the case of two unfortunate Florida cats that had been living in a black mold-infested home, pulmonary hemorrhage was the primary symptom, from which they later died. Be sure to keep all toxins out of the air of your home or building, because symptoms can grow to be worse that parallels the worsening of mold that is allowed to grow freely inside a structure.