Today, indoor pollution can far exceed outdoor environmental pollution for homeowners and tenants alike, due to exposure to mold, mycotoxins, and other forms of fungi.
Molds are simple, microscopic living organisms. Both molds and yeasts are fungi. Fungi are the principal decomposers in ecological systems as they tend to live in water-rich environments such as dirt, plants, and darkened, humid basements, walls, ceilings, or attics.
Some of the more dangerous and tenacious mold forms, however, live in dry desert regions far away from water.
Many of these black, greenish-black, or brown shades of mold grow on household surfaces that have high cellulose content such as fiberboard, gypsum board, paper, dust, lint, and wood.
The early detection of mold is usually a sign of an increased moisture presence or existing or previous water damage.
Some types of mold secrete mycotoxins such as ochratoxin, aflatoxin, and trichothecenes.
Human and animal exposure to mold, mold spores, and mycotoxins can trigger inflammation, allergies, asthma, and various types of immune system dysfunction.
Real Estate, Water, and Mold
The vast majority of Americans today want to live in towns, cities, or counties close to large bodies of water like oceans, lakes, rivers, or wetlands regions. Over half of Americans today live in coastal counties next to shorelines or adjacent bodies of water.
Yet, the close proximity to water and the humid climate can lead to toxic indoor mold exposure and serious health problems for occupants.
Mold spores, mycotoxins, and fungal fragments are measured in homes or other properties by environmental or mold specialists.
Many people are exposed to mold through water-damaged homes, schools, courthouses, hospital, hotels, or office buildings. It has been estimated that upwards of 25% of all buildings in the U.S. have some sort of significant water damage.
Mold can severely damage the occupants’ health as well as cause the home to be completely bulldozed to the ground in the case of high levels of mold infestation.
That potential $100,000 “fix and flip” profit just turned into a $300,000 loss, sadly.
The most important factor in the growth of mold is moisture. Once the moisture is added to active spores, mold can quickly grow in just 24 hours. Homeowners must react as soon as possible to find qualified mold inspectors to assist them.
To learn more strategies for mold solutions, visit this informative website: https://www.moldguide.net/removal/
Identifying and Removing Mold
There are anywhere between 100,000 and 400,000 types of fungi on our planet, depending upon various environmental estimates. Scientists have identified and listed over 1,000 mold types growing inside U.S. homes.
Molds are classified into three group types as it relates to human health reactions:
* Allergenic Molds: These may not be the most toxic forms of potentially life-threatening mold, but they can be the most problematic if a resident is allergic or asthmatic, especially young children.
* Pathogenic Molds: These molds can create infections in home occupants, pneumonia-like bacterial reactions, and other chronic types of lung infections. An example is Aspergillus fumigatus, which can grow in the lungs of immune system-suppressed occupants.
* Toxigenic Molds: Toxic and dangerous molds that produce mycotoxins that can cause autoimmune disease-like symptoms, cancer, brain damage, and many other severe health reactions.
Five Common Types of Indoor Mold
1. Alternaria: Found in a person’s nose, mouth, and upper respiratory tract, and cause inflammation and allergic reactions.
2. Aspergillus: Molds likelier to be found in warmer and humid climate regions, and also found in house dust. This mold produces mycotoxins and can cause serious lung infections.
3. Cladosporium: A fungus typically located outdoors, which ends up inside of homes by way of the delivery of wood, textiles, or other damp materials. Health reactions include hay fever and asthma.
4. Penicillium: A well-known mold due to medical uses. In larger amounts, it can trigger allergies, asthma, and other unhealthy reactions. It is found on wallpaper, carpet, older fabrics, and fiberglass duct insulation.
5. Stachybotrys chartarum: An extremely toxic “black mold” that produces mycotoxins, significant breathing challenges, and even bleeding lungs. Black mold can be found on walls, ceilings, wood, and paper products. It is less likely to be found on concrete, tile, or linoleum, and may not always be visible to the resident.
The Early Warning Signs of Mold
Let’s take a look below at some of the most common health symptoms for mold exposure:
1. Fatigue and weakness
2. Headaches, migraines, or light sensitivity
3. Poor memory
4. Brain fog or reduced concentration levels
5. Joint pain or muscle cramps
6. Skin rashes
7. Shortness of breath
8. Red eyes or blurred vision
9. Stomach pain
10. Metallic taste in mouth
11. Vertigo or dizzy spells
12. Sinus problems
13. Night sweats
14. Changing personality traits or mood swings
Insurance and EPA Assistance
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is one of the main governing agencies that can help assist property owners with mold risk concerns. To learn more details, the EPA provides a free information packet: A Brief Guide to Mold, Moisture, and Your Home.
According to Flood Smart (www.floodsmart.gov – the National Flood Insurance Program), the average homeowner’s claim between 2010 and 2014 was $39,000 for water damage. The average annual flood insurance premium payment in 2014 was $700 per year.
The most likely mold problems for homeowners are related more to property damage than even health problems. However, a high percentage of homeowner’s and landlord’s insurance policies generally exclude coverage for water damage and mold.
Few things today can damage and decay a home and the homeowner faster than the combination of water and mold.
I highly recommend that property owners check with their insurance agents and home or mold inspectors in regard to insurance coverage options and strategies to reduce mold exposure risks.