Mold exposure Q & A

What are the signs and symptoms of mold exposure? What should I do if I've been exposed to a lot of mold?
Dee  / Iowa

Most people have no reaction to mold (mildew) unless they are exposed in high concentrations of mycotoxin producing mold. After a period of time, and this amount of time can rely on many variables, anyone can become poisoned by these molds.  Some of the symptoms include:

Stuffy nose/respiratory problems/coughing
Skin rashes/hair loss
Acid reflux                                                                                                                                                                                                                         Digestive problems                                                                                                                                                                                                     Memory/cognitive problems

For a complete list of symptoms and associated illnesses, please go to the symptoms page

Mold is very common. Mold spores travel through the air and may be present throughout the year. Indoor mold grows in damp places such as basements and bathrooms. Outdoor mold lives on plants and in compost and soil.  Small amounts of indoor mold, such as mildew on a shower curtain, aren't a serious concern. But that doesn't mean you should let mold grow in your house. To minimize mold exposure:

Keep humidity in your house below 50 percent. Use a dehumidifier if needed.
Clean or discard moldy or mildewed items.
Disinfect bathrooms and basement walls with a disinfectant solution such as diluted bleach.
Increase ventilation and air movement by opening doors and windows, when practical. Use fans as needed.
Large mold infestations can usually be seen or smelled. But sometimes your home may smell musty, and you can't see the mold. Mold may hide in places such as:
Behind drywall, wallpaper, paneling or ceiling tiles
Under carpets and pads
Inside walls around pipes and inside ductwork

If you think you have a hidden mold problem, consider hiring an experienced professional to investigate and, if needed, correct the problem. It is best to hire one company to conduct testing, and another company to conduct the remediation process to avoid a conflict of interest.

Some molds can produce toxic substances called mycotoxins. The term black mold usually refers to the mold Stachybotrys chartarum, a greenish-black mold, which can result from heavy water damage. Known health effects of stachybotrys are similar to those of other common molds. There is now a growing amount of conclusive evidence indicating that black mold is associated with more severe health problems than other forms of mold. Not all mold that appears black is stachybotrys. Only a few molds are truly black.