Mold infestation is a widespread issue in households that can lead to various health risks if not dealt with properly. While mold exposure is generally not fatal, it can prove to be life-threatening in some cases, particularly when exposed to specific types of mold and having certain types of pre-existing medical issues.
Mold is a type of fungus that flourishes in damp, warm environments, and in the state of New Jersey, with its humid and rainy summers and cold winters, mold can be a significant issue for homeowners. Mold spores, when inhaled or come into contact with the skin or eyes, can lead to a range of health problems, including respiratory issues, skin and eye irritation, headaches, and allergic reactions.
In New Jersey, several types of mold exist, each with its distinct features and effects on health. Aspergillus, Cladosporium, and Penicillium are common types of mold that are readily available and present. However, Stachybotrys chartarum, is a mold that is typical after water damage and is a dangerous type of mold that can produce toxic substances known as mycotoxins, which are detrimental to human health.
All mold is harmful and if growing indoors is a health hazard
Stachybotrys chartarum is a greenish-black mold that usually grows on materials with high cellulose content, such as wood, paper, and cardboard, that have been wet for an extended period typically 10-14 days. Exposure to Stachybotrys chartarum can cause a range of health problems, including respiratory issues, skin irritation, and flu-like symptoms. In rare cases, exposure to this type of mold can even result in fatality.
There have been documented cases of fatalities due to mold exposure. In 1993, an infant in Cleveland, Ohio, died due to exposure to Stachybotrys chartarum. The infant lived in a home with severe water damage and visible mold growth. Autopsy results revealed that the infant died of pulmonary hemorrhage, a condition where the lungs fill with blood. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) investigated the case and found evidence of Stachybotrys chartarum in the home.
Numerous scientific studies have investigated the health effects of mold exposure. One study published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine found that exposure to indoor mold was associated with an increased risk of respiratory symptoms such as coughing and wheezing in adults. The study also found that individuals with a history of respiratory issues were more susceptible to the health effects of mold exposure.
Another study published in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine found that exposure to any type of mold was linked to an increased risk of asthma development in children. The study revealed that children living in homes with visible mold growth were more likely to develop asthma than those living in homes without mold growth.
Preventing mold growth is crucial for maintaining a healthy indoor environment, particularly in New Jersey, where the climate can be humid and rainy. To avoid mold growth, it is essential to control moisture levels by fixing leaks, preventing water damage, using dehumidifiers, and ensuring adequate ventilation in bathrooms, kitchens and basements.
In severe cases of mold growth, professional remediation may be necessary. Remediation involves identifying and addressing the source of the mold growth and removing all affected materials. It is crucial to note that individuals with compromised immune systems or pre-existing respiratory conditions should not participate in mold remediation activities.
It’s ready, I typically try to stay away from isolating and using them term black mold because it’s commonly used as a scare tactic, there are over 20,000 species of black colored molds. While its typically only found after longer term water damage events, or on going leaks/ plumbing issues. It typically takes approx. 10-14 days to grow/ mature where it will begin producing mycotoxins (they are actually produced to kill other molds) , whereas aspergillus, penicillium and cladosporium often grow within 24-48 hours and due to their smaller size and lighter weight produce more rapidly, are easily airborne, produce mycotoxins and can easily contaminate an entire home whereas that would be rare for stachybotrys since it is much larger and heavier. They also have similar health effects as well and are toxigenic.