What Is Household Mold
and How Common Is It?

Mold sporesMold is any of various fungi that often cause disintegration of organic matter. When molds grow, it's usually in damp, moist or wet places like office windows, behind walls and under floors, above ceiling tiles, behind shower walls or plants are just a few of the possible sources of unhealthy mold contamination. Mold grows wherever there are wet cellulose materials they can feed on, such as wood, ceiling tiles, walls, plasterboard, carpets and drapes, damp clothing, cleaning materials or accumulations of organic material inside air-conditioning and heating systems.  All mold sources contaminate the air you breathe.

"Fifty percent (50%) of homes contain problem molds. A new medical study attributes nearly 100% of chronic sinus infections to mold. A 300% increase in the asthma rate over the past 20 years has been linked to molds." -- as reported in USA WEEKEND, Dec. 3-5, 1999

Mold cannot get started without water. If water is left to sit for even 24 hrs, common molds can take hold. If water continues to sit and areas become completely saturated, that's when a more lethal mold, such as Stachybotrys, can move in.

A 1994 Harvard University School of Public Health study of 10,000 homes in the United States and Canada found half had conditions of water damage and mold associated with a 50 to 100% increase in respiratory symptoms.

Mold Eats Away at Your Health

Molds can cause hearing loss, vomiting, memory loss and asthmatic lungs.

"All molds have the potential to cause health effects. Molds can produce allergens that can trigger allergic reactions or even asthma attacks in people allergic to mold. Others are known to produce potent toxins and/or irritants. Potential health concerns are an important reason to prevent mold growth and to remediate/clean up any existing indoor mold growth." -- U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, 03/01.

"Most homeowners believe that as long as they do not see visible signs of mold, that is, patches of green, blue, or black discoloration on surfaces, their environment is free of contamination. What they don't realize, however, is that large accumulations of [hidden or concealed] mold may be growing in areas that they cannot see, like air ducts, remote attic or basement spaces, or wall cavities. Left to multiply, these infestations may produce enough organic compounds to cause allergic reactions, sickness and, in extreme cases, death (a possibility with infants)." -- Edward R. Lipinski, HOME CLINIC: The Battle Against Mold and Mildew, NEW YORK TIMES, Sept. 12, 1999.

Chronic Sinusitis

Health-care professionals now know that molds can cause allergies, trigger asthma attacks and increase susceptibility to colds and flu. Anyone with a genetic predisposition can become allergic if exposed repeatedly to high enough levels.

Last year Dr. David Sherris at the Mayo Clinic performed a study of 210 patients with chronic sinus infections and found that most had allergic fungal sinusitis. The prevailing medical opinion has been that mold accounted for 6 to 7 percent of all chronic sinusitis. [The Mayo Clinic study] found that it was 93 percent-the exact reverse. [Newsweek, 12/4/00]

Asthma and Mold

For millions of Americans, taking a breath is a major task. The culprit, asthma, affects more than 17 million Americans, including five million children. Asthma is a chronic disease in which air flow in and out of the lungs is impeded by swelling, constriction, and inflammation of the bronchial tubes, as was well as excess mucus production within those tubes. The airways of all people constrict when exposed to certain irritants like pollen, pollutants or some drugs. People without asthma can usually make the airways relax again quickly just by taking deep breaths. People with asthma cannot do that.

Patients may find their condition triggered or worsened by several factors, which can be allergic or non-allergic in nature. Allergic asthma means that asthma symptoms become more intense, perhaps even result in an asthma attack, when the individual is exposed to allergens to which their immune system is sensitive. The inflamed airways of asthmatics are sometimes described as twitchy, and inhaling pollens, molds, animal dander or other allergens can cause the airways to become even more inflamed, produce mucus & constrict. Most asthma in children is allergic in nature. From American. Academy. of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology [U.S.A. Today, All About Allergies & Asthma, 3/16/01]

Alzheimer's and Mold

Because the effects of toxic mold (Stachybotrys) are similar to Alzheimer's Disease [in such ways as the loss of memory and ability to think logically], it is possible that relatives and friends of toxic mold victims think that their relative's memory losses and mental diminishment is a sign of advancing age, or of the onset of Alzheimer's disease. Medical researchers strongly believe that environmental factors help trigger what is ultimately a genetic condition. [USA Weekend, Aug. 31- Sept. 2, 2001, p. 6] Mold contamination may be one of those environmental factors!

New Homes Are More Susceptible to Mold

This is because of the materials that are being used:

  1. Fake stucco (great for mold when wet).
  2. The way insulation can trap moisture behind walls.
  3. The fact that today's homes, like office buildings, are more airtight, with air-conditioning and heating systems re-circulating contaminated air.

Families can go for months, even years, without knowing where their symptoms are coming from. Even if mold in your house doesn't cause you any medical problems, if it becomes established in the wood in your home, 'dry rot' may form. Dry rot can result in a homeowner's nightmare. When the mold dies, the wood dries and then shrinks, breaking up into irregular chunks. Cracks in the wood fiber then act like straws, siphoning up moisture and carrying it to undamaged portions of the wood. Left unchecked, this process keeps recurring, continually rotting more wood, and can cause severe structural damage to your home, warned Vicki Lankarge, on insure.com.

New houses are more prone to mold problems than older houses, but a bad leak in any house can cause a mold problem if not properly taken care of.

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