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How Undetected Mold Affects Your Health

x-ray lungs

If you’ve noticed an increase in asthma attacks or are experiencing unexplained breathing or respiratory problems, there may be mold lurking in your home. According to the November 2021 issue of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, exposure to mold can make asthma worse, trigger allergic reactions and infants living in moldy homes were 3x more likely to develop asthma by the age of 7. Learn more about how mold can affect your health and how to get rid of it.

What is Mold and Where it Comes From

Mold is part of the fungus family. A microorganism presenting in the form of spores, it is found everywhere whether indoors or outside. In order to grow, mold needs moisture and oxygen. Wet leaves and soil or dead/decaying organic matter are prime spots for mold. Outdoors, mold plays its part in the eco-cycle by breaking down this dead/decaying organic matter. Inside your home, however, mold causes damage and triggers allergic reactions and other health issues. With the right damp conditions, mold can grow on virtually anything from walls, windows, carpet, clothing, and food. Mold reproduces and spreads by releasing spores into the air. Once the spores are released into the air, they “feed” on whatever they land on and ultimately, whatever the mold lands on is destroyed.

Health Risks Due to Mold

Mold primarily affects the respiratory system. Those with pre-existing breathing conditions such as allergies as asthma are at high risk for increased health risks. Mold exposure is also dangerous for infants and the elderly. Health indicators that mold may be present in your home include:
  • An increase in allergy symptoms such as a rash, runny nose, watery eyes and sneezing
  • An increase in the onset or severity of asthma attacks
  • Headache
  • Dizziness

Eliminating Mold

  • Proper ventilation is a key factor to prevent the growth and spread of mold. A dehumidifier, fans and sump pumps all help circulate air and dry out damp areas throughout the home.
  • Repair all leaks and sources of standing water or damp conditions in the home. Mold needs moisture to thrive.
  • Clean mold with a solution of water and bleach to kill and prevent mold from spreading and causing damage to its host, which can be anything from food to fabrics to walls.
  • Odor is also a key indicator that there may be a moisture problem in your home. Spray wet surfaces and musty-smelling spaces with an anti-fungal spray to sanitize and deodorize the areas prior to drying.
While mold is not a health issue for everyone, living in a home with active, growing mold and breathing in the spores on a daily basis is not healthy. In Sonoma County, count on the professional mold remediation team at RCS for help, recommendations and an action plan to eliminate and prevent mold in your home.

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Is All Mold Dangerous?

Mold and Your Mental Health

For years, there’s been evidence to suggest that mold worsens allergy and asthma conditions in patients suffering from these respiratory conditions. While there are different types of mold, which ones are the most dangerous for someone suffering from respiratory issues or weakened immune systems?

Different Categories of Mold

While there are different types of mold, the most common types of household mold typically fall into one of three categories.

Allergenic

Mold that falls into this category is not toxic but can cause an allergic reaction or trigger the onset of an asthma attack.

Pathogenic

These molds are dangerous to patients who suffer from already compromised respiratory systems. Pathogenic molds can also cause illness in people with pre-existing health conditions.

Toxigenic

These mold types are able to self-produce toxins triggering very serious health issues, especially for those with vulnerable immune systems.

Common Mold Found in the Household

Here are some of the more common types of mold found in homes, especially homes with water or excessive moisture problems. Alternaria (Allergenic) Alternaria is the most common of the allergenic molds. It triggers allergic reactions, including asthma attacks, especially in those with weakened immune systems. This common mold is found primarily in wet bathrooms and around poorly sealed windows which tend to accumulate condensation. Chaetomium (Allergenic) Most commonly found in houses with serious water problems such as flooding or on-going, unresolved wet conditions. This mold starts out white but over time can turn very dark. It’s often confused with and can grow alongside toxic black mold. Ulocladium (Allergenic) This allergenic mold is also often mistaken for toxic black mold. Fortunately, it’s not nearly as dangerous. Much like other mold types, a great deal of moisture is needed for Ulocladium to thrive. Most common spots for this mold to show up are in wet bathrooms, leaky appliance hoses and poorly sealed windows. It can also be found growing on carpet and drywall. Aspergillus (Pathogenic) Some types of mold in this category, although non-toxic, trigger the same respiratory problems as the others. These respiratory issues include asthma, allergies, and lung irritation and infections. Aspergillus is found in the air we breathe and nests in HVAC systems. The presence of this mold is more pronounced in buildings that have sustained significant water damage. Stachybotrys (Toxigenic) Stachybotrys is more commonly known as toxic black mold, found anywhere it’s damp throughout homes. Ventilation systems are a breeding ground for toxic black mold. Two of the most common types of toxic black mold are stachybotrys chartarum and stachybotrys chlorohalonata, which are both a result of excessive moisture in the home along with poor air quality and ventilation. Toxic black mold triggers asthma attacks and other respiratory distress. This is a dangerous mold which needs immediate professional remediation and elimination of conditions which promote its growth and spread in the home.

Professional Mold Remediation

Although not all mold is dangerous, there are a lot of mold types that can be confused for the more dangerous types. Rather than guess or mistake the identity of a non-toxic mold for a more dangerous one, call the mold remediation professionals at RCS, proudly serving the Santa Rosa, Sonoma County and surrounding North Bay areas. The licensed mold remediation specialists at RCS can safely remove mold and put together a treatment plan to prevent it from returning to your home.

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Solving the Mystery of Recurring Moisture Issues in Basements and Crawl Spaces

When it seems like every time it rains or gets humid outside, the lower level and crawl space in your home is damp, full of moisture and maybe even standing water. Identifying the source of moisture and why it continues to be a recurring problem in these same areas is the first step to eliminating the problem for good.

Basements and Crawl Spaces = High Risk Areas

After or even during a rainstorm, you probably head straight to the basement to check for water. Despite taking preventative measures, you continue to combat moisture issues. The common denominator for these moisture problems is water. The goal is to solve the mystery of how it’s getting inside your home. If water enters the basement and/or crawl space and has no way to escape or dry out, moisture and dampness is going to continue to be your issue. Unresolved moisture issues ultimately lead to bigger issues such as mold, odor, structural damage and pest infestations.

Breaking Down Potential Water Sources in High Risk Areas

Basements

If your gutters are failing, water slides down the sides of your home, pools around your foundation and gets inside. Make sure your gutters are clean, in good working order and downspouts direct water well away from the foundation of your home. If you notice cracks in the basement walls, it’s another place where water is able to get inside. If there is carpet or cardboard boxes on the floor, the water will soak right in, remain wet and become moldy and musty. Leaky pipes and faucets in the basement are another source for moisture and standing water problems. Old basement windows may very well have broken or cracked seals allowing water to enter the home.

Crawl Spaces

Many of the same moisture issues that affect the basement also affect crawl spaces. Excess moisture or water in crawl spaces may result from standing groundwater, failing gutters, faulty grading around the foundation, leaking pipes or leaky windows. The bigger problem with crawl spaces is that you don’t check those spaces often, which gives water a chance to stand and pool without ever drying out. Too much water in a crawl space causes damage to any insulation or mechanicals stored there. Standing water in a crawl space is a breeding ground for all kinds of insects or rodents, in addition to making conditions perfect for mold.

Call a Professional

When you’ve checked all the areas, repaired what you could see yet continue to experience water issues, call a professional to check the basement and crawl space areas. Keep in mind that dampness and moisture problems lead to bigger problems for you and your home down the road. A professional service can find the source of the water, thoroughly dry affected areas and seal/drain the crawl spaces to prevent further problems and damage. In Santa Rosa and surrounding Sonoma County areas, call RCS for expert moisture prevention recommendations, services and a free estimate.

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