Mold is a silent killer. It invades homes and kills people without warning or mercy, but there are ways to protect yourself from mold. This post will discuss just how many people die each year from mold, the symptoms of mold exposure, and what you can do to make your home safer against this deadly organism.
What is Mold?
Mold is a type of fungus that reproduces by releasing spores into the air. These spores can be found just about anywhere where there’s moisture: in damp carpets or hardwood floors, behind wallpaper, on ceiling tiles, even in wet clothing left too long on a chair. Mold thrives when there are high levels of humidity (greater than 50 percent). There are three types of molds: allergenic fungi; toxic black mold; and nontoxic greenish-yellow or pinkish-brown molds.
Though mold is most often found in damp environments like bathrooms where there has been water damage or flooding, it can also grow on any surface that remains wet for more than 24 hours.
About 11 million Americans are exposed to excessive levels of indoor mold each year.
The most common health problems associated with mold exposure include allergic reactions such as wheezing and skin rashes. However, if the problem is swept under the rug, more severe problems may occur such as pneumonia, memory loss, depression, asthma, athlete’s foot, vaginal infections, systemic and skin infections, eye infections, and mycotoxicoses.
How Dangerous is Mold
An estimated 1.5 million people die from health problems caused by mold. These facts are not exactly something we want on the tip of our tongues — nor anything to be as likely to remember. But, nevertheless, they are facts and they are worth paying attention to when looking at the effect of fungal infections in global and national healthcare around the world today.
One of the most common types of mold found in homes is called Aspergillus. Aspergillus is a group of about 100 related mold species. It has been found to live in homes, buildings, and other man-made structures.
According to the University of Manchester, Aspergillus can severely harm or even kill people with weakened immune systems in as little as 14 days. But Aspergillus isn’t just a concern for those with compromised immune systems. In fact, the fungus is everywhere and its spores are floating in the air right now. People with asthma or allergies may notice an influx of mold spores when the weather changes. The same goes for people who live in buildings with poor ventilation, such as apartment buildings and nursing homes, where spores can linger for prolonged periods of time.
How to Know if Your Home Has Mold
There is no certain way to tell if your home has mold. You can call a professional inspector, but the only real way to know for sure that there are mold spores in your house is by conducting a test. Mold removal experts will use either an air sampling device or more invasive testing methods such as taking some of the material from inside walls and putting it under a microscope. Afterward, you’ll be able to see whether the type of mold present may cause health problems for you and/or others living at your property.
If your home is indeed infected, you should call a mold professional. Although mold removal – depending on the location in your home – may be pretty costly, it’s still better to pay the price than to try to do it yourself. Here are just a few reasons why:
You’re probably not trained enough to remove dangerous mold types on your own;
You may not have the right equipment;
Mold usually has its roots deep behind the wall surface and the only way to totally resolve the mold problem is to remove its roots – roots you probably can’t reach on your own.
However, a lot of homeowners may have a mold problem that they can resolve on their own. The mold professional that has inspected your home will educate you on if that’s the case or not but if it is, you can remove the mold by yourself.
Note that there are plenty of commercial products that are effective for mold removal, but many of them contain harsh chemicals that may be as harmful as the mold itself. There are several ways to get rid of mold without resorting to toxic chemicals.
One of them is using white vinegar. Here’s how the removal process should look like with it:
Use cleaning equipment before starting to keep yourself safe.
Spray white vinegar onto the infected area. Leave it for about an hour in order for the mold to fully absorb the vinegar.
After enough time passes, wipe the area. For stubborn mold, you can use baking soda mixed with water to help remove it.
Rinse the area with warm water and spray vinegar again.
Repeat until you see results.
Prevention is the Cure
Mold problems can be deadly but they can also be easily prevented. The problem is that most people, including a lot of scientists, don’t take this global issue seriously. And even if they do, there is a lot of misinformation that just further harms people.
Install proper ventilation systems, keep your humidity under control, and have a regular mold inspection performed in your home – at least once a year – by a certified professional to make sure you’re safe.
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