Molds are fungi that are found everywhere - both indoors and outdoors all year round. The terms fungi and mold are often used interchangeably, but mold is actually a type of fungi. Concern about indoor exposure to mold has increased along with public awareness that exposure to mold can cause a variety of adverse health effects. There are many thousands of species of mold and most if not all of the mold found indoors comes from outdoor sources. It seems likely to grow and become a problem only when there is water damage, high humidity, or dampness.
Molds produce and release millions of spores small enough to be air-, water-, or insect-borne. They can also produce toxic agents known as mycotoxins. According to the United States Department of Labor, Occupational Safety and Health Administration, spores and mycotoxins can have a negative effect on human health. Mold does not affect everyone, and different people are affected differently when mold is breathed or inhaled. People with allergies or asthma are more sensitive to mold.
Mold can range in color from white to green and orange to brown and black.
Health effects of mold
Mold exposure may cause:
- cold-like symptoms
- watery eyes
- sore throat
- and may trigger asthma attacks
Because mold spores are very small and can be easily inhaled, it is not safe to live in houses with high mold levels. Exposure to prolonged high spore levels may cause the development of an allergy to mold.