It drives me absolutely nuts to read blogs from other home inspectors trying to dismiss mold and it’s effect on people. I am sure that these blogs confuse the typical home buyer as well as many others in the industry. You would think that home inspectors of ALL people would be more educated on this VERY real danger. You don’t hear too many home inspectors dismissing radon, which is interesting as radon and mold have a lot in common…Adverse health effects to sensitized individuals. The only difference really, is that there are no federal standards (as of yet) concerning mold. Why do you suppose this is so? Answer: BIG MONEY!
There is no question that there is a lot of mis-information being strewn around the industry today concerning mold and its severity. This is, in part, due to the fact that there is a large transition taking place in the mold industry today. (old home inspectors -vs- new). However the largest portion of incorrect information is actually coming directly from the insurance industry. It’s important to understand that the insurance industry as a whole has spent a lot of money in an effort to stop the use of the term “toxic mold.” They like to “twist” the news to their advantage. They will also use those same tactics during litigation proceedings. They will twist the truth and alter the facts and evidence in their favor to avoid the “payout”. The studied and documented truth of the matter is that several types of mold do produce mycotoxins, so the term “toxic mold” is very much appropriate.
Toxic mold can and does cause a wide variety of health effects. The health problems experienced by each individual person are different due to several factors including age, genetics, health prior to exposure, amount of exposure, extent of contamination, types of molds and mycotoxins involved, and other contaminants such as bacteria, etc.
All indoor molds present a potential health risk and should be treated with caution according to the Center for Disease Control. The (EPA) Environmental Protection Agency recommends that any indoor mold growth be addressed immediately and that all water or moisture sources be eliminated.
Some molds have been more closely associated with specific health problems. One example is Stachybotrys atra, a greenish black mold often referred to as “toxic black mold.” It grows on material with high cellulose content (e.g. drywall, wood, paper, dust). Stachybotrys becomes a problem when it emits mycotoxins (poisons) capable of producing toxic effects in humans and animals. Although there are literally thousands of spore types that are considered unhealthy or even toxic, the most common types of toxic molds that are found in homes that are documented as creating health problems are, but not limited to: Stachybotrys, Aspergillus, Penicillium, Cladosporium and Alternaria.
Molds and other fungi adversely affect human health mainly through three processes: allergy; infection; and toxicity. Exposure to mold is not healthy for anyone. However, the following individuals are at a higher risk than others for adverse health effects; infants, children, the elderly, people with compromised immune systems, pregnant women, individuals with existing respiratory conditions and allergies. Airborne toxic mold spores can affect the immune system, nervous system, liver, kidneys, blood and can even cause brain damage.
Everyone is exposed to mold in the outdoor air but exposure to elevated levels of indoor molds can accelerate aggravated conditions for many people. Some molds are more hazardous than others. For some people, a small number of mold spores can cause severe health problems. For others, it may take larger numbers. Mold spores can often cause adverse reactions, much like pollen from plants and flowers. Some molds (particularly toxic molds) can trigger instant and uncontrollable vomiting in mold sensitive people.
There are many symptoms of mold exposure. The extent of symptoms mainly depends on the sensitivity of the individual person. Allergic reactions are the most common and typically include: chronic clogged throat, wheezing and difficulty breathing, nasal and sinus congestion (sinusitis), burning, watery, reddened eyes or blurry vision, sore throat, dry cough, nose and throat irritation, shortness of breath, nausea and skin irritations (rashes).
Other effects of elevated exposure include: nervous system problems (headaches, memory loss, moodiness), aches and pains, and fever. If you have any of these symptoms, and they are reduced or completely gone when you leave the suspect area, chances are good that you are being exposed to higher than acceptable levels of mold spores.
Still, even with all of this information that is publicly available on mold and its effects, some still refuse to admit that it is indeed a danger. They will call it “preying on peoples fears” or my personal favorite “brainwashing” the general public. In conclusion, I ask this question. Who is it that is really being brainwashed? The people that feel and live with the effects of toxic mold everyday? Or could it possibly be the uneducated? You decide.
Whatever your take on mold, please realize, if you have visible mold present in your home, IT IS NOT NORMAL! No matter what anyone else says.