Molds can Cause Mere eye Irritation, or a Toxic Fungi can hit the Neural System, Leading to Death
My column on molds came out in two parts, in two issues of Enrich Magazine
You come home after a hard day’s work, grab a drink and relax in front of the television. Then that old, familiar feeling starts – an irritation in your nose and constant, bothersome sneezing and sniffles. Sometimes this only occurs in specific areas of your house, or a particular room. If that is so, your symptoms may be due to the presence of molds.
What are Molds?
Molds are fungi. The highest estimate for species of molds is 300,000. Molds fly through the air whether inside or outside of your home, seeking a landing place to take root and multiply. Different molds like different environments. Some like oxygen and water, others like dry areas. Either way, once a mold finds a suitable spot, it will remain there and reproduce.
Common Household Molds
There are four common household molds, but each one has several subspecies, sometimes up to 200 for a single mold. The four most common home molds are:
My Column, Home Safety First
1) Cladosporium – This mold can be dark green, brown or black. It accumulates on wood, fabrics (curtains, bed sheets, etc.), tile grout (bathroom, kitchen tiles), and plastic items (kept in moist areas like bathrooms and kitchen). Sometimes the mold is hidden on a subfloor or sheetrock.
2) Penicillium – This mold gets its name from the Latin word, penicillin, or little brush. The green mold often appears to have branches like a brush. It is found in dust bunnies, on wallpaper, wood, food (cheese, dry cereals, fruit, etc.) and debris.
Cover, July Issue contains Part 2 of my column on molds
3) Alternaria – This mold is sometimes found on old wallpaper, or it may grow unseen beneath the wallpaper on its substrates. If the wallpaper is in your bedroom you may experience hay fever, lung problems, shortness of breath or fatigue, among others.
4) Aspergillus – This mold seems to be irrepressible. It can be found everywhere in the home, but particularly likes damp areas such as the kitchen, bathrooms or any place with a leaky pipe or faucet.
In sum, molds can be found in food, drinks, medicines, basement leaks, neglected roof areas, water damaged ceilings and walls, household dust, clothes, wallpaper, drywalls, attics, floors, leather, windows and elsewhere.
In the Philippines people should be particularly wary of molds, especially during the rainy season when floods are common and often invade the interior of the first floor of a house.
Illnesses From Molds
Molds can cause throat, nose, skin and eye irritation. You may experience allergy and mold sensitivity. Daily exposure can cause headaches, migraines, itchy and watery eyes, rashes, skin disease (eg. athlete’s foot), a chronic cough, frequent sneezing and fatigue, among others.
Other illnesses: Mouth thrush (painful, white yeast patches), candida esophagitis (thrush that makes swallowing very painful), and vaginal yeast virus. If you have a sensitive system simply touching a mold can lead to an asthma attack.
Some molds release mycotoxins, which are toxic fungi that can affect your neurological system and, in a worst case scenario, can lead to death.
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What to do with molds:
If you have mold problems in your home, here are some things you can do:
- Clean up the mold. It may be very large, but there are effective anti-mold cleaners in the supermarket which are perfect for bathroom and kitchen molds. Once it’s cleaned, dry the area completely. Also, to prevent future molds, eliminate any unnecessary, excess moisture.
- Fix all leaks. This includes hidden leaks in your plumbing. Usually, these are found in the basement. Check all rooms of your home for leaks. Molds also prevail outdoors, so check your garden and fix any leaking outdoor pipes and faucets.
- Throw away any absorbent materials that have accumulated molds. This includes carpets, beddings, furniture, drywall and ceiling tiles, among others.
- Never carpet your bathroom. It provides the perfect housing for molds.
- If you plan to do any house painting, look for paint that has mold inhibitors in it. Otherwise you can buy the mold inhibitor separately and add it to the paint.
- Install exhaust fans in your kitchen and bathroom. Otherwise, open a window when you are washing dishes, cleaning up or cooking. Also, leave bathroom windows open when you are taking a shower.
- Always dry anything that is damp or wet in your home within two days to prevent molds from occurring.
- Get a hygrometer at the hardware store and make sure that indoor humidity remains within a 30-50 percent range.
- On humid days use your air conditioner or buy a dehumidifier.
For more information on molds, go online and check the section on molds in the US National Library of Medicine and the National Institutes of Health.