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Is Mold Harmful - Guide by Experts

Not-so-fun fact – CDC estimates that about 11 million Americans are exposed to excessive levels of indoor mold each year.

This then begs the question – is mold harmful? 

Should you be worried about being exposed to mold?

We’ve asked the biggest mold experts around the country to collab with us and make a helpful guide on whether mold is harmful or not and how to deal with it.

We’ll feature 5 experts and their answers to the following questions:

  1. What are the dangers of mold exposure?
  2. What should a person do to resolve their mold problem?
Got it? Great, let’s dive in!

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What is Mold?

First, we gotta cover the basics.

Mold is a microscopic organism that digests organic matter and reproduces by releasing spores. Molds are one of over 5,000 types of fungi.

In nature, mold helps decompose leaves, wood and other plant debris. The problem occurs when mold enters our home and begins digesting our walls, floors, carpets, and other items.

How Does Mold Grow in My Home?

Mold enters your home as tiny spores, and these tiny spores require moisture to grow. As they grow, they digest your home and destroy it. Give them a nice place to live, and you will have mold.

Almost any surface will do (as long as it is organic): walls, carpets, ceiling tiles, wallpaper, sheet rock, insulation, and even paint! All that is required for mold to grow is a suitable environment, AKA a damp environment.

There is no way to keep all mold spores out of your home, but you can control the growth of mold by keeping your home dry. In some areas, this is rather difficult, but with the right know-how, it can be done.

How Are People Exposed to Molds?

When molds are disturbed, they release spores into the air. Often, this occurs when people are cleaning up mold. The mold spores are released into the air and inhaled into the lungs. Many people report headaches and runny noses after just a little bit of exposure to mold spores.

Contact with the skin is another way to be exposed to mold spores. This can happen through touching moldy items, eating moldy food, or incidental hand-to-mouth contact.

How Harmful is Mold

Now we’ll get into the experts’ advice. 

Mold Can Cause Allergic Reactions and Trigger Asthma

“Mold can cause allergic reactions in some people such as coughing, wheezing, skin rash, sore throat, nasal congestion, and red/itchy eyes. The presence of mold in a home can also trigger asthma.

Severe reactions can occur when exposed to a large amount of mold and can vary greatly from person to person.”
 
Genevieve Lewis, HomeWood Solutions LLC

Molds Produce Toxins Called Mycotoxins

Our next expert, Jennifer Ellis-Schuetz of Empowered Health and Wellness Code Academy, has something to say about the so-called mycotoxins.

“Molds produce mycotoxins. Mycotoxins coming from toxic molds such as Aspergillus and Stachybotrys can wreak havoc on human health by disrupting healthy cellular function.”

By the way, the University of Manchester says that Aspergillus can severely harm or even kill people with weakened immune systems in as little as 2 weeks.

Continuing:

“When the level of mycotoxins exceeds the body’s ability to detox them, health ramifications can include complications such as reduced immune function, autoimmunity, chronic fatigue, cognitive decline, anxiety and depression, neurological impairment, and more.

Some people have a genetic predisposition to not being able to detox mold toxins and run a high risk of developing a complex, multi-system condition known as CIRS (chronic inflammatory response syndrome).

Based on my experience, this is most common in those with significant acute or ongoing exposure and a history of other epigenetic factors such as other illnesses, poor lifestyle habits, and trauma of all kinds.”

Risks are Very High

“In our area [western Georgia] the main complaint of exposure to mold has been allergies. Two to three clients a year have advanced mold toxicity and have been hospitalized.

Those are the emotionally harsh sites once they come home and continue to get healthy. It just makes the work worth all the tough times.“

Andrew Wood, The Mold Man LLC

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Inflammation and Disease

Carli Kilgore of Wellness by Carli proceeds by saying:

“Mast cell activation + an up-regulated biotoxin pathway, which is a perfect storm for inflammation and disease.”

For context, mast cells are a type of immune cell that play a crucial role in the body’s defense against pathogens.

However, when these cells become overactive or hypersensitive, it can lead to a condition known as mast cell activation syndrome (MCAS).

In MCAS, mast cells release excessive amounts of various substances, including histamine, which can trigger allergic and inflammatory responses, which is what Carli touched upon.

To further clarify, the term “biotoxin” refers to toxins produced by living beings.

An up-regulated biotoxin pathway suggests an increased activity or expression of the biological mechanisms responsible for generating these toxins.

This could be a result of exposure to various environmental factors, such as mold, certain bacteria, or other harmful agents that produce biologically active substances.

Lungs Are at Risk too

Rick Eustaquio of BioTerra Environmental Solutions warns of the dangers of mold for your respiratory system.

Mold can cause plenty of problems to it. Besides asthma and allergies we’ve already gone over, mold can also cause something called hypersensitivity pneumonitis. This condition is characterized by inflammation of the lung tissue, leading to symptoms such as shortness of breath.

Mold exposure has been linked to chronic rhinosinusitis, an inflammatory condition affecting the sinuses and nasal passages. Symptoms include nasal congestion, facial pain or pressure, and a reduced sense of smell.

And then there are multiple forms of Aspergillosis, caused by Aspergillus mold. These conditions can, in severe cases, lead to lung damage.

How to Protect and Recover Your Health from Mold

Most experts agree about how to initially start dealing with your mold problem.

“The first step to resolve any mold problem is to find the source of the moisture and fix it. The next step is to remove the mold. Some materials may need to be discarded and replaced.

For surfaces that need to be cleaned, such as wood framing, the focus should be on mold removal. Many people mistakenly believe that the mold just needs to be killed, but dead mold is also an allergen.

Use a product such as an oxygen bleach (not chlorine bleach) that will help clean below the surface and remove the mold spores. This should be combined with scrubbing to remove all visible presence of mold.

Because of the dangers involved in mold remediation, it is usually recommended to have large amounts of mold removed by a trained professional. Finally, be sure to treat all surfaces with a mold or moisture barrier to prevent future mold growth.”

This is outlined by Genevieve. 

Jennifer then continues by explaining how to recover your health:

“I feel the steps involved in resolving mold illness are as follows:

  1. Identify and remove sources of environmental molds and initiate appropriate testing to assess levels in the body
  2. Optimize elimination and support drainage and detox pathways
  3. Bring on mold binders
  4. Quell mast cell activity and inflammation
  5. Calm the mind and nervous system
  6. Rest the circadian clock
  7. Optimize detoxification pathways
  8. Address chronic pathogens, particularly parasites
  9. Heal and seal the gut
  10. Rewire the mind and nervous system for wellness

Note, these steps are not in exact order and some need to take place simultaneously.”

And then, experts like Andrew, Carli, and Rick all say to “call a professional.”

Andrew further says that “the worst thing you can do is try to solve it yourself and exacerbate the issue.”

Carli also mentions to “find a mold-literate consultant and health practitioner to make sure you get well.”

Conclusion

As you can see, being exposed to mold has the potential of causing a lot of problems. Anything from property damage to severe health conditions, mold exposure is a serious issue that needs to be treated accordingly.

So the finally answer is YES, mold is indeed harmful. 

We hope this article was helpful to you. 

If you’d like more help from experts featured in this article, make sure to check out their websites. We’ve linked them right next to their names. 

You can also go to their LinkedIn profiles:

And that wraps it up!

Wish to learn more about mold? Look up our other posts:

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