- Symptoms of mold allergies
- Toxic mold (Stachybotys)
- Toxic mold symptoms
- Detecting toxic mold
- Controlling mold allergies
- Schedule allergy testing in the case of severe mold allergy
- Avoid cumulative mold allergen exposures
- Quality allergy reduction products
Mold and mold spores are in the environment year-round, indoors and out. Although more prevalent in warm, humid climates, molds exist throughout the globe. Typically “fresh” air contains more mold spores than pollen grains.
Mold spores are the reproductive part of mold or fungus that cause allergic reactions. Molds feed off decomposing plant and animal matter and grow by producing filament-like clusters. Mold and fungi reproduce by giving off huge numbers of mold spores into the air, similar to plants releasing pollen. When airborne mold spores settle on organic matter, new mold clusters are grown. When mold spores are inhaled, they may trigger an allergic reaction.
Mold and mildew growth is obvious when it grows in bathrooms along tile grout in shower stalls. However, mold also can grow in:
- Closets and storerooms.
- Foam pillows.
- Refrigerator door gaskets.
- Self-defrosting refrigerator water pans.
- Refrigerator cooling coils.
- Under-sink cabinets.
- Room air conditioner units.
- Washing machines.
- Dryer vents.
- Garbage cans.
- Sheetrock and wallboard.
Symptoms of mold allergies include:
- Chronic cough
- Runny nose
- Nasal congestion
- Itchy, watery and red eyes
- Skin rashes and hives
- Sinus headaches
- Reduced lung capacity and difficulty breathing
Toxic mold (Stachybotys):
Black mold or toxic mold contamination has been in the news for several years. Black mold is extremely toxic and can be deadly, especially to children with mold allergies. Toxic mold has become almost epidemic in southern U.S. homes where foam board was used as wall insulation with no air space to let walls breathe. Wallboard, sheetrock or cellulose insulation can act as wicks for any floodwater or unrepaired water leaks. After black mold begins in homes or buildings, mold spores are continuously released by the mold clusters. Microscopic mold spores quickly become airborne and travel throughout the air conditioning and heating systems. A mold infested home creates a lethal environment for anyone predisposed to allergies. Many times the only method to rid a structure of toxic mold is with a bulldozer and trucks to haul off the debris. [Stachybotys is NOT the green mold found on bread or cheese and will not have a musty odor.]
Toxic mold symptoms:
- Coughing up blood
- Nose bleeds
- Nausea, vomiting and diarrhea
- Chest congestion
- Difficulty breathing
- Skin rashes
- Forgetfulness and memory loss
- Pulmonary hemorrhage
Detecting toxic mold:
Having professionals test for toxic mold contamination can be quite expensive. However, many labs have affordable, and even inexpensive, testing for homeowners. If you see mold on sheetrock or vent, press a piece of clear cellophane tape to the mold and lift it off. Place the tape sample in a zip-lock plastic bag so that the tap sticks to the inside of the bag. If you have more than one sample, label the bags with different locations from your home or building. Contact one of the labs for procedures to have your samples tested.
Controlling mold allergies:
- Reduce your exposure to mold and mold spores.
- Use exhaust fans in bathrooms to reduce the humidity levels.
- Use mold-killing solutions in bathrooms and shower stalls, on bathroom tiles, shower curtains, around the bathtub and toilet tank.
- Use paint with a mold inhibitor, or add a mold inhibitor to standard paint for use in baths.
- Replace bathroom carpets with tile or linoleum.
- Check tree bark for mold before using it in a home fireplace or wood-burning stove.
- Use a chemical moisture remover in closets.
- Never put away wet shoes or clothing.
- Use exhaust fans in the kitchen to remove cooking steam and food vapors.
- Repair all water leaks promptly.
- Use a dehumidifier to keep the relative humidity below 40 percent to deter mold growth.
- Install a high-performance electrostatic filter in your central air conditioning and heating system to trap mold spores and inhibit mold.
- Never put damp clothing in closets or drawers.
Schedule allergy testing by a physician if your mold allergy becomes severe:
Allergy testing increases your knowledge about specific allergens and pinpoints the allergens to avoid. Allergy testing may include blood count and several other blood tests, including the IgE allergy antibody, nasal smear, pulmonary function study, chest and sinus X-rays, plus a detailed symptomatic medical history. As many 120 substances may be used in puncture testing on the upper back and arms to pinpoint exactly which allergens affect you. Intradermal tests of substances on the arms and dermatitis patch tests may be used as well, based on the puncture test results.
Avoid cumulative mold allergen exposures:
Mold allergy symptoms may grow more severe with each successive allergen exposure. Like stacking blocks, one too many blocks causes the whole stack to topple triggering an allergy flare-up. It is important to reduce your exposure to airborne allergens, food allergens and animal allergens.
Allergies can lead to asthma, especially in children, causing permanent lung damage. Fortunately, information about allergies and allergy control products can help people with mold allergies live normal lives.
Quality Mold Allergy Reduction Products
Medical Treatment Centers of America can direct you to the best providers of these products with our specific recommendations on the products you will need.