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Mold-Associated Illnesses

Various illnesses are associated with toxic mold exposure in a home or business. It is difficult to predict how a person will react to mold exposure. Some people are more predisposed to serious respiratory illnesses due to conditions such as allergies or asthma. Like asbestos contamination, mold exposure may cause ill effects. Effects can range from very serious health problems to minor annoyances.

This article discusses the health concerns of mold contamination. It suggests treatment options for mold remediation. You may have a viable mold claim if:

You don't own or maintain a property affected by mold, but you suffered exposure. Examples include rental property mold, nursing home or hospital mold, school mold, or workplace mold.

You are a property owner exposed to mold due to an issue with poor home construction or a negligent plumber or contractor. For instance, a contractor's use of inferior building materials can lead to water intrusion, property damage, and mold growth.

How a Toxic Mold Case Is Born

Mold is part of the natural environment. But you certainly don't want it in your home. Indoor mold growth can be a serious problem, especially if you wait to take care of it. A mold problem can affect indoor air quality and cause health concerns for the people living within the home.

In a home or indoor workplace environment, mold spores can multiply quickly. If you suspect there is mold growth in your home or place of work, you should consider mold removal as soon as possible. You want to prevent further mold contamination in your indoor environments. The key to mold control is to prevent and remediate moisture problems.

Mold contamination may also happen in a school or commercial building. There are currently no federal standards or recommendations (e.g., from OSHANIOSHEPA) for mold. However, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has published “Mold Remediation in Schools and Commercial Buildings," which provides resources for mold contamination.

If a mold infestation has occurred in your home or workplace, employers and landlords may be required to provide alternative environments for your safety. If the person or company responsible for the affected property refuses to provide you with accommodations, you may have mold claims in different contexts, including:

Mold Exposure Illnesses: Who Is Most at Risk?

The medical community has not reached a solid consensus regarding illnesses associated with toxic mold exposure. The level of indoor mold concentration regarded as dangerous varies widely among health professionals. As a simple rule, if the concentration level of mold in a home or commercial building is higher than the concentration outdoors, the possibility of adverse (and potentially serious) health problems exists.

Mold produces allergens, irritants, and mycotoxins (toxic fungi-produced compounds) that can cause health concerns. Some individuals may have a higher health risk after experiencing mold exposure than others. The following groups of people may have greater health risks from mold exposure:

  • People with allergies
  • People with conditions or diseases that weaken immune defenses
  • People with lung disease or other respiratory (breathing) conditions
  • The elderly, infants, and children
  • People with weakened immune systems (such as cancer patients on chemotherapy, people with HIV infection, and organ transplant recipients)

Illnesses Caused by Mold Exposure

Mold exposure does not always present a serious health threat. The severity of possible illnesses caused by mold exposure largely depends on the health characteristics of the exposed individual. It also depends on the specific mold strain found in the home or commercial building.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) some of the most common health effects associated with mold exposure are:

  • Allergic reactions or the worsening of allergies
  • Respiratory problems; mold infections can develop in the lungs of people with weakened immune systems and with chronic lung diseases, such as obstructive lung disease
  • Fever, sore throat, flu-like symptoms, sneezing
  • Nasal and sinus congestion, stuffy nose, and burning or watery eyes
  • Worsening of asthma or more frequent asthma attacks
  • Coughing, wheezing, difficulty in breathing, and shortness of breath, which can be severe
  • Skin irritation and skin reactions, such as rashes
  • Headaches, nausea, and vomiting

In some rare mold cases, toxic mold exposure is alleged to have caused the following serious health-related consequences:

  • Memory loss
  • Brain damage
  • Death (including wrongful death caused by mold)
  • Suppression of the immune system
  • Bleeding in the lungs

If the level of mold in your home or business is higher than a naturally occurring concentration, serious health consequences are possible. If you experience any of the above health-related symptoms, you should contact a healthcare professional immediately.

Recognizing Mold in Your Home

There are different types of mold infestations that can form the basis of a mold claim. Some strains associated with mold injuries include black mold, Aspergillus, and Stachybotrys chartarum.

Recognizing mold may be difficult—it may be hidden or hard to notice. You may recognize mold by:

  • Sight: Are the walls and ceiling discolored? Are your clothes spotted? Does anything in your home show signs of mold growth or water damage?
  • Smell: Do you smell a bad odor, such as a musty, earthy smell or a foul stench?
  • Allergy or asthma flare-ups: Do you suffer from allergy-like symptoms? Do you have a persistent cough or cold?
  • Water damage: Are your walls warped? Is your carpet contaminated? Do you notice flooding or moisture intrusions? Look for property damage inside building materials.

Porous materials are especially susceptible to water intrusion and property damage. Porous materials include upholstery, carpet padding and carpeting, insulation material, drywall, wallpaper, floor and ceiling tiles, leather, clothing, food, wood, or paper. These areas are optimal for mold growth.

If you are not sure whether your home has mold damage, you can contact a professional to come to your residence and take a look. They will assess your home, sample your air quality, and determine whether there is mold present in your indoor environment.

Mold Cleanup: Taking Steps to Protect Yourself

It's important to stay safe while continuing to work or live on a property during mold removal. Mold cleanup can be big or small, depending on the mold contamination area. If there has been a lot of water damage and the area is larger than 10 square feet, you will need to contact a professional to clean the moldy areas.

If the area is smaller, you may be able to do the mold cleanup yourself, but:

  • You may be assuming health risks and harming your potential mold injury claim. Talk to a professional first.
  • Protect yourself with personal protective equipment, such as goggles, respiratory protection, rubber boots, and waterproof gloves.
  • Wear outer clothing (long-sleeved shirts and long pants) that can be easily removed and laundered or discarded.
  • Shorten the amount of time you are in the moldy area.

Bleach disclaimer: While some say bleach is a good way to clean nonporous surfaces, some experts advise against using bleach. It is corrosive and toxic to humans and animals.

You can also minimize mold spore contamination by:

  • Decreasing foot traffic in the affected area
  • Avoiding dry sweeping
  • Avoiding rapid movements (such as throwing moldy objects or jerking)
  • Covering moldy objects during removal

It is important to be cautious and diligent when cleaning up moldy areas in your home. Improper mold cleanup can mean mold contamination in other areas of your home. Professional organizations skilled in mold cleanup can help reduce this risk. They may also provide you with a helpful remediation plan to help ensure none of the mold returns.

Preventing Mold From Coming Back

Dry environments with reduced moisture discourage mold growth. Accordingly, proper ventilation helps to minimize or prevent a mold infestation. Controlling moisture is key to preventing mold recurrence. Mold spores are found in outdoor air. So, mold can grow again if indoor conditions are suitable. Keep previously damp areas completely dry. Here are some helpful prophylactic tips:

  • Clean fabrics (upholstery, curtains, bedding, etc.) often and keep them dry.
  • Store clean fabric items in well-ventilated areas.
  • Reduce moisture in the air with open windows, air conditioners, or dehumidifiers, especially in hot weather.
  • Keep the humidity in your home between 40% and 60%. A household humidity sensor or smart thermostat available at your local hardware store can measure home humidity.
  • Use insulation to reduce condensation on cold surfaces. Examples include insulating cold water pipes and air-conditioning ducts.
  • Routinely check potential problem spots (areas with higher moisture), such as the laundry room and bathroom.
  • Investigate any damp areas around sinks and tubs. Fix leaks in pipes.
  • Clean surfaces and vacuum frequently.
  • Obtain advice from a mold remediation company if mold growth continues. They will help determine the best course of action for mold remediation efforts, such as using industrial fans and dehumidifiers to dry out the property.

If you're having difficulties keeping mold under control, you may need to hire a professional mold removal company. You may also need to file a claim with an insurance company. However, when it comes to getting justice in your personal injury case, these parties might not help much. You may have suffered from mold-related health issues in addition to property damage. To recover for medical bills, medical treatment, and other related medical expenses, you may need the assistance of a qualified law office.

Getting Professional Help With Mold

Depending on the size of an affected area and the extent of a mold infestation, mold remediation costs can be as little as $1,000 to as much as tens of thousands of dollars. As this is a large range, it's important for you to be able to hold the responsible party accountable for all the cleanup costs, as well as your health issues. You may have to file a toxic mold lawsuit against a contractor, property owner, or landlord.

To learn more about mold lawsuits, you may need to consult with a personal injury lawyer. They can give you and your loved ones legal advice on a potential mold personal injury claim. As the average personal injury lawsuit involves many kinds of legal issues, an experienced lawyer may be able to provide a free case evaluation. This can help you better understand the strengths and weaknesses of your mold claim.

If you have been exposed to mold in your home and it caused injury, speak to a personal injury attorney today to discuss your claim. They may be able to help you obtain a favorable verdict.

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