Health risks from mold exposure

Molds inside homes are widely known for causing health risks. But, when asked, most people don’t know the specific impacts mold has. Further, many are misinformed. So, what impact does mold have on human health?

There are four areas of concern:

  1. Allergies and irritation
  2. Asthmatic episodes
  3. Infection

Allergies and irritation

Mold allergy is the reaction of the human immune system to the inhalation of airborne mold spores. Exposure to alternaria, aspergillus, cladosporium and penicillium are most often associated with an allergic response. Symptoms of allergic reaction to mold include:

  • Coughing
  • Dry skin
  • Irritated throat and nose
  • Postnasal drip
  • Runny nose
  • Sneezing
  • Stuffiness
  • Watery/itchy eyes

The severity of reaction varies from person to person. For some, an allergic mold reaction is a nuisance. For others it can be more extreme, even debilitating.

Asthmatic episodes

While mold does not, and cannot cause asthma, it does exacerbate existing conditions. Those with both asthma and a mold allergy can experience more intense asthma attacks. Symptoms include:

  • Coughing and/or wheezing
  • Tightening of the chest
  • Trouble breathing/shortness of breath

Infection

Contact with mold can also cause infection. This, however, is a rarity. People with immune systems which are impaired, including those with HIV/AIDS are at risk and should consult a doctor whenever experiencing problems with their skin or mucous membranes.