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Mold Health & Safety

Mold infection

Some mold species can cause respiratory infection when the live mold invades the tissues of the lungs or respiratory tract. This is not a significant risk for healthy people, but can be dangerous for individuals with severely weakened immune systems, infants and the elderly.

Toxic effects of mold - legitimate or unfounded?

According to the CDC "There are very few reports that toxigenic molds found inside homes can cause unique or rare health conditions such as pulmonary hemorrhage or memory loss. These case reports are rare, and a causal link between the presence of the toxigenic mold and these conditions has not been proven."  Because of this, "toxic molds" should be treated the same as any other mold.  

The question is not whether molds are capable or producing toxins, but rather whether they produce a sufficient quantity to effect the human body.  Currently, the majority of research points away from toxins as a potential health threat. 

One particular type of mold that has been recently highlighted in the media is Stachybotrys chartarum (also known as Stachybotrys atra). Stachybotrys is a greenish-black mold that grows on materials with high cellulose content (drywall, wood, paper, ceiling tiles, etc.) that are chronically wet or moist. It is one of several molds that can produce mycotoxins under certain environmental conditions.

The health effects of breathing mycotoxins are not well understood, but we do know that most molds can present some health risks, such as allergic reactions. Therefore, any mold growth in a building should be cleaned up, regardless of the type of mold.  If mold remediation is required, please review our protocol first.  For additional information on this issue see Questions and Answers on Stachybotrys chartarum and other molds on the National Center for Environmental Health Web site.

People at Greatest Risk from Mold

  • Infants and children. 
  • The elderly. 
  • People with asthma, allergies, and other respiratory (breathing) conditions. 
  • People with weakened immune systems (such as people with HIV infection, cancer patients taking chemotherapy, and people who have received an organ transplant). 
  • Any person at risk from mold should not be in an area that is likely to be contaminated with mold.

Possible Health Effects of Mold Exposure

  • Stuffy nose, irritated eyes, or wheezing can occur in people who are sensitive to molds. 
  • Wheezing, difficulty in breathing, and shortness of breath can be an allergic reaction to mold and can sometimes be severe.
  • Skin reactions can develop. 
  • Mold infections can develop in the lungs of people with weakened immune systems and with chronic lung diseases such as obstructive lung disease. 

Treating Symptoms of Mold Exposure

If you or your family members have health problems after exposure to mold, contact your doctor or other health care provider.

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