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Toxic Mold Overview

Many people have heard of "black mold," but various mold strains can cause ill health effects to residents and occupants in homes, businesses, and places of employment. Homeowners and homebuyers should look for warning signs of mold in damp places like basements, attics, and crawl spaces. Mold spores can cause allergic reactions like sneezing and runny nose. Beyond allergy symptoms, mold issues can also cause more serious problems like shortness of breath.

If you think that you’ve been exposed to toxic mold in your home or business, you may wish to contact an attorney or law firm specializing in mold-related claims to discuss your situation and protect your legal rights. You may also want to contact a mold assessor who can determine the nature of your mold problem. They may recommend that you hire a mold remediator. Mold remediators are qualified to remove mold and recommend how to handle any mold problem.

Continue reading for an overview of toxic mold.

Mold - Warning Signs

Various warning signs should lead a person to investigate a home or commercial building for potential mold infestation. The earlier an investigation occurs, the better the possibility that a real estate owner can reduce possible damages and adverse health effects caused by mold exposure.

The earlier you identify a mold problem, the lesser the likelihood of resulting health problems and the greater the likelihood of success in any mold remediation attempts.

The following are some warning signs that may indicate the presence of dangerous mold or mold growth:

  • Visible mold growth (as in mildew, for example)
  • Discoloration or water stains on internal and external facing walls or ceilings
  • Musty odors or musty smells and diminished, damp air quality
  • Areas of standing water or condensation on floors, walls, or windowsills
  • Water damage, such as from leaky pipes (which can appear on drywall and present as water leaks)

Types of Mold

Many types of mold may occur in homes and office buildings. Some sources say there are over 100,000 different species of mold. Some mold species are considered harmless, while others can cause potentially serious adverse health effects.

The most common mold types found in homes and offices are:

  • Cladosporium
  • Penicillium
  • Aspergillus
  • Alternaria
  • Stachybotrys atra

A home inspection for mold will help to identify these and other possible strains. As mold inspections might reveal, mold thrives in places with excess moisture and plentiful food sources. Sometimes, effective mold removal can be achieved with just a dehumidifier. Other times, more serious remediation efforts may be warranted, depending on the type of mold.

Why Is Mold Harmful to Humans?

Certain molds produce volatile organic compounds ("VOCs") or toxins as byproducts of their metabolism. VOCs generally evaporate at room temperature. In fact, when a person smells a "musty" odor, they’re actually smelling volatile organic compounds.

Some VOCs produce adverse health effects in certain predisposed individuals. In contrast to VOCs, toxins do not evaporate easily. Some toxins are considered very dangerous to humans. Regardless of whether a particular strain of mold produces VOCs or toxins, all molds should be considered potential health risks. The presence of mold should lead to an investigation, cleaning, and possible removal.

Mycotoxins are particularly a problem. They are naturally occurring toxic compounds produced by certain types of fungi. Stachybotrys chartarum is the biggest offender within the arena of mycotoxins. It is a greenish-black mold, more commonly called “black mold." Often growing on materials with a high cellulose content, it can cause serious illnesses in many people.

According to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), people with compromised immune systems and allergies, including those with asthma, are most vulnerable to the negative effects of mold exposure.

Illnesses Caused by Mold Exposure

Some of the most common illnesses associated with mold exposure are:

  • Worsening of allergies
  • Respiratory problems
  • Fevers
  • Nasal and sinus congestion
  • Burning and watering eyes
  • Worsening asthma symptoms
  • Coughing
  • Sore throat
  • Flu-like symptoms
  • Skin irritation
  • Headaches

Mold Exposure Illnesses: Who Is Most at Risk?

It is generally accepted that those who are most at risk of illness from mold exposure include:

  • People with allergies
  • People with conditions or diseases that weaken immune defenses
  • People with lung disease
  • The elderly
  • Young children

Property Damage Caused by Mold

Mold doesn't just cause illnesses in people. It can also cause significant damage to property.

Mold can eat away at the materials in any structure, including concrete, wood, and paper. It can also eat away at carpeting, wallpaper, and tiles. It can even cause the deterioration of glue.

It's important to identify the signs of mold early. It's not just illnesses that you need to worry about. The structural integrity of a space can be compromised by mold. When the signs of mold have been identified, it's important that you contact a mold assessor to determine the nature of the problem.

An assessor will determine whether you need to hire a mold remediator. A mold remediator is qualified to handle the mold removal and determine what is necessary to solve your mold problem.

Learn more about toxic mold and its legal implications by clicking one of the links below.

Learn About Toxic Mold

  • Toxic Mold OverviewA broad look at the different forms of toxic mold and their potential dangers. Learn about the causes of toxic mold in homes and buildings, warning signs, different types of molds, and more.

  • Mold Types and CausesA guide to the different types of mold and their causes. Learn about the most common forms of mold found in homes and commercial buildings, including Cladosporium, Penicillium, Aspergillus, and more.

  • Mold Prevention Starts From WithinMoisture is the key to mold control. This article provides several tips to help you prevent mold growth in your home, including frequently cleaning your gutters, keeping air conditioning drip pans clean, and more.

  • Toxic Mold Legal ClaimsIf you’ve been exposed to toxic mold in your home or workplace, you may want to file a legal claim against those responsible. Learn about who may be held responsible for toxic mold injuries and more in this article.

  • Mold-Associated IllnessesThere are a variety of illnesses associated with toxic mold exposure. This article explains who is most at risk for toxic mold-related illnesses, the different illnesses caused by toxic mold, the symptoms involved, and more.

  • Construction Defect BasicsAn overview of construction defects and the laws involved. This article provides information on faulty designs, code violations, substandard workmanship, unsafe structures, limits on potential claims, and more.

More Toxic Mold Articles

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