More than a third of all homes in New Zealand grapple with mould problems. One common way these issues manifest is with unsightly spots showing up in rooms in the house, especially in wet areas like the kitchen and bathroom.
This issue is primarily attributed to the country’s humid conditions and the prevalence of damp or wet environments, providing an ideal breeding ground for mould. Leaks and water damage can greatly exacerbate these problems, making these areas more susceptible to mould growth. While the mould found on surfaces around homes is typically non-toxic, the release of its spores into the air can trigger immune sensitivity in susceptible individuals.
Those with weaker immune systems, such as the elderly, infants, and people with a diagnosis of asthma, face a heightened risk of experiencing adverse effects from mould exposure. The silver lining, however, is that most individuals who suffer health issues due to mould presence in their homes make a full recovery once the mould is professionally removed.
Mould is a common household enemy, especially the black type. This article will shed light on the health risks associated with black mould exposure and provide you with practical ways to remove it from your walls permanently. One proven method is diligent cleaning with bleach, which can kill and remove the micro fungi.
Eliminating mould is essential for your health and safety, and understanding its effects can help you tackle the problem more effectively.
What Is Black Mold?: Exposure, Symptoms, Treatment, and More
Have you ever noticed specks of black creeping up the wall, through cracks, or near a drain in your house? Chances are, this is Stachybotrys chartarum, also known by the less glamorous name of black mold.
Beyond its unnerving appearance, it can also pose a risk to certain individuals. This fungus is typically black, but can sometimes appear dark green. It thrives in damp, dark places and on materials such as paper products, wood, and drywall.
Like most fungi, black mold requires moisture and humidity to grow and spread. It particularly favours water-damaged areas, but it’s not uncommon to find it appearing as dark spots on untouched shoes or clothing, or under towels left in the bathroom. Given the right conditions, black mold can spread rapidly and cover most surfaces not exposed to sunlight or wind.
Is black mold Dangerous to Humans?
If you’ve ever detected a persistent mouldy or musty odour in your house or in certain areas of it, it’s time to either grab a mask and some cleaning materials or call a professional. You likely have mould lurking somewhere.
The unpleasant odour is caused by the microbial volatile organic compounds (mVOCs) released by the mould as part of its growing process. For people who have a compromised pulmonary system, allergies, or a weakened immune system, this odour could prove to be quite dangerous because that means the person has already been exposed to the black mold.
Also, exposure to black mold may lead to more severe conditions such as mycotoxicosis – a condition caused by toxins produced by mould. There are even cases where people experience mycotoxicosis not through inhalation of the spores, but by skin penetration, as these tend to settle on any surface.
Is black mold dangerous?
Exposure to black mold can lead to various health conditions ranging from mild reactions to severe respiratory problems. Common symptoms of exposure to black mold include runny nose, dry cough, skin rashes, sore throat, and wheezing. In more severe cases, it may cause unexplained headaches, body aches, mood alterations, memory issues, and even sudden nosebleeds. Evidence suggests that such symptoms can potentially be exacerbated in the presence of mold found in bathrooms, buildings or behind the doors of older structures, where ventilation is poor.
Mycotoxicosis is known to produce certain symptoms in people, including:
- Body Aches
- Sudden mood alteration
- Unexplained headaches
- Compromised memory
- Sudden nosebleeds
- Runny nose
- Teary eyes
- Dry cough
- Skin rashes
- Sore throat
- Wheezing sound while breathing
People suffering from these symptoms tend to associate them with other things, especially those who spend time cleaning houses where molds may exist. A significant level of information supports the view that molds can lodge in hard to reach areas such as ceilings. Yet, most cases of black mold-relevant mycotoxicosis go undocumented and unreported due to lack of awareness and prioritization of tenant or homeowners’ rights.
In people who might have a more severe reaction to mould exposure, the danger lies in developing hypersensitivity pneumonitis, a condition that comes with more severe symptoms, including:
- Shortness of breath
- Constant feeling of fatigue
- Long-term coughing
- Progressive weight loss
It is not uncommon for people who suffer from hypersensitivity pneumonitis to be mistaken as having tuberculosis, as some of the more prominent symptoms are quite similar.
In this informative video, Dr Cameron Jones addressed the concern of mould effects on adults’ and children’s health.
Greater Danger to Infants
There were once fears that exposure to black mold could cause acute idiopathic pulmonary haemorrhage (AIPH) in infants. AIPH is a condition where bleeding occurs in the lower respiratory tract. As this condition is isolated to infants, the scope of testing methods is severely limited, which also limits the ability of physicians to determine the actual cause of AIPH. Today, however, physicians have ruled out the theory that black mold is a potential cause for infants to develop AIPH.
black mold, however, is known to increase the risk of infants developing chronic respiratory disease by the age of 7. While various allergy triggers are also associated with increasing an infant’s chances of developing asthma, exposure to black mold in buildings, especially in inadequately maintained ones, has been isolated as one of the strongest triggers associated with the development of asthma at a young age. Infants and young children may be exposed to these conditions for far longer than is suitable, as they cannot yet distinguish and describe the smell of dampness.
What happens if you breathe in black mold?
As people with compromised pulmonary systems also tend to have weakened immunity, studies are pointing to the risk of people suffering from mycotoxicosis as being increasingly susceptible to other forms of infection as well. This is mainly due to their being severely taxed in fighting off the toxic effects of fungal poisoning, and could no longer be effective in fighting off other microbial or viral infections.
Who is at Risk When Exposed to black mold?
There are many incidents where physicians associate unidentified allergies to mould exposure in New Zealand, as a large demographic of people tends to be quite vulnerable to it. These individuals’ rights to safe and mold-free homes and buildings should be a focus for improved health.The ones most at risk typically are:
Infants and children, who may be exposed to harmful amounts of mold.
Elderly people, who should consider using gloves when cleaning to prevent exposure to large amounts of mold which could trigger allergies.
People susceptible to allergies, especially mold allergies, and a doctor should be consulted if symptoms develop.
People with chronic respiratory disease, as the amount of mold present can pose a health threat to this group.
People with weakened or compromised natural immunity who might struggle with even a small amount of exposure to mold.
How are Allergies Triggered by black mold Treated?
The generally accepted treatment for allergies associated with exposure to black mold is the same as that of other types of airborne-associated allergies, as the affected system is also the same. Despite differences in the content of the allergens, physicians will typically recommend that people susceptible to allergies observe some particular practices, including:
Avoidance of or removal of the irritants or suspected allergy trigger like mold spores.
Thorough cleaning of the body to remove spores and other irritants. In this case, wearing gloves can help prevent directly touching the mold.
Controlling humidity at home prudently to avoid creating a lot of moisture which favors the growth of mold.
Ensuring proper ventilation at home, particularly in areas prone to mould development, ways to control the amount of mold spores in the air can be recommended by a doctor.
Replacement of household items such as carpets and rugs fraught with mold spores, with items made of material that will not retain moisture can lower the amounts of mold spores in the home.
For medical treatment of allergies, whether from exposure to black mold or other irritants, the treatments usually involve:
Prescription of antihistamines by a doctor to control the body’s reaction to mold spores.
Use of steroid-based or antihistamine nasal sprays to minimize symptoms, especially for adults with mold allergies.
Prescription of eye drops for eye-related symptoms, again highlighting the importance of consulting a doctor in regards to allergies.
There are also cases where immunotherapy has proven to be effective in lessening the effects of allergies in some people, although this treatment has thus far proven to be selective in effect for certain people and is not always 100% effective for everyone. Immunotherapy has also not been proven to provide 100% immunity to specific irritants and allergens for certain people, as chronic exposure has been shown to still trigger allergic reactions.
How Do I Avoid the Dangers of black mold?
As with any infection, prevention is the best course of action. Regularly cleaning and checking your home for potential mold infestation wearing gloves, is always advisable. Given that mold can be difficult to detect even in large amounts, professional services specialize in identifying and cleaning mold growths at home. For adults especially, it’s beneficial to understand the conditions that could promote mold spread in your home.
Awareness is key to safeguarding yourself from potential dangers both inside and outside your home, including the risks posed by black mold exposure. If you detect a distinctive musty smell of rot and dampness, don’t delay in addressing the issue, hoping it will resolve on its own. This smell signifies the presence of mold and its spores in large amounts. If you suspect that searching for the source of the smell may trigger allergies, consider enlisting help from someone else or hiring a professional.
Mold often develops rapidly when exposed to constant moisture, such as from leaky taps or pipes. It won’t take long for the mold to spread throughout the house, causing additional problems for its inhabitants. Addressing these issues will not only eliminate the health risks associated with mold but will also prevent other potential problems that might arise from neglecting the issue.
There are several steps you can take to remove black mold from your home. These include using specific mold removal products, improving your home’s ventilation, maintaining humidity levels under control, and in severe cases, consulting a mold removal specialist.Check out this short video featuring Board-certified allergist Dr. Laura Green, who explains what black mold is and how to prevent excessive mould growth in your home. Understanding mycotoxins, a toxic substance produced by black mold that can wreak havoc on your lungs and overall health is crucial for everyone, no matter what stage of life they’re in.
black mold poses serious health risks including allergic reactions, respiratory problems such as congestion, and heightened susceptibility to other infections – something anyone should be concerned about.
Infants and young children, elderly people, individuals with allergies or asthma, and those with weakened natural resistance are at higher risk.
Keeping your living space clean is essential. Regularly run a dehumidifier and inspect your home for signs of mould to improve the quality of life for yourself and everyone in your household.
If you detect a musty smell or visible signs of black mold, it is imperative to take immediate action.
Employ preventive measures to guard your health such as improved ventilation, controlled humidity levels facilitated by a dehumidifier, and regular cleaning to prevent mould growth.
In severe cases, don’t hesitate to seek help from a professional mould removal specialist.
Frequently Asked Questions On Black Mould
- What kills black Mould best?
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