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Varieties of Mold that Can Effect Your Health

If you’ve had any experience with mold in your home before, you know just how invasive this fungus can be. Besides the possible damage that mold does to your home, the spores released by molds can be the cause of many health concerns. Spore are produced as part of mold’s reproduction process—spores are almost like tiny seeds. Because the spores are so light, they can travel up to 20 miles in the wind. These little spores wreak havoc when inhaled by an individual with allergies or asthma, but even a healthy individual can be affected by mold. So, do you know what types of mold are currently invading your residence?—here is a list of common molds that pose a health hazard:

  • Cladosporium - A powerful allergy irritant that is found throughout the United States, both indoors and outdoors. This mold causes skin sensitization and aggravates the upper and lower respiratory tract. Cladosporium is a common cause of extrinsic asthma (immediate hypersensitivity). Certain strains release toxic spores.
  • Alternaria – One of the leading allergy-causing molds. When it shows up indoors, this mold is often growing in carpets, textiles and other horizontal surfaces (such as window sills).
  • Helminthosporium – A common fungus that often grows on celery. Mutated forms are difficult to exterminate. The spores produced by this mold are larger than other varieties and often end up in the upper respiratory tract.
  • Epicoccum – This mold is very similar to Helminthosporium. The mold colonies are spread through the air, soil and on food. The spores are very often found in indoor air.
  • Penicillium - A frequent indoor mold that is often growing in basements. Causes mucorosis in individuals with weakened immune systems, and will create health problems for those who live in a home with a high concentration of penicillium spores.
  • Aspergillus - A resilient, indoor mold that can survive in dry conditions and grows veraciously in the autumn and winter (in the northern hemisphere). Twenty of its species have been reported to cause serious fungal infections in individuals with lowered immune systems. Aspergillus can spark several different allergic-related diseases and lead to permanent lung damage (fibrosis).
  • Mucor – This is another indoor mold, often seen as the black splotches found on breads. Mucor is a skin and bronchial allergen, and is reported to enter the body through open wounds, which causes other serious health concerns.

If you have mold allergies, you probably have noticed that it is more difficult to avoid spores than other allergens. For example, relief from pollen can be found indoors; pets can be shut out of certain parts of the house to avoid contact with dander, etc.

The hardest part of mold removal is catching it before it has gotten out of control. This is because usually mold grows in unseen places. Mold sprouts up within walls, under carpets and in air ducts. For people with allergies or asthma, inhaling spores can cause very serious health problems. It isn’t guaranteed that you will be immune to mold whether you have allergies or not—spores can create illness in usually healthy individuals. This is because of the toxins or mycotoxins found in certain spores.

Mycotoxins are can cause illnesses ranging from chronic sinusitis to cancer. Exposure of long periods of time can harm the brain, reducing mental capacity—the symptoms of this are learning disabilities or cognitive deficiencies.

In writing articles like this one, I come across a lot of preventative information on mold. The repeated recommendation in avoiding mold infestation is dehumidifying the air in your home. Another strongly suggested precaution would be installing an air purifier with Ultra Violet light technology. UV light is perhaps one of the most effective ways to reduce the effect of microorganisms in the air. It can neutralize spores as well as bacteria and viruses like flu and streptococcus.

For additional information on mold, check out Mold-Help.org. This is one of the most comprehensive resources on mold and mold identification that I’ve found. To take care of airborne spores, Air Oasis and Biozone make air purifiers that are perfect for use in your home. An HVAC UV air purifier that can be installed inside of your duct work is an ideal mold solution, because it eliminates the mold’s ability to reproduce throughout the entire house.


 
 

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