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Mold - A Modern-Day Health Concern
Whereas molds are part of the natural outdoor environment --
helping to break down organic matter such as fallen leaves and dead
trees, mold growth indoors should be avoided. Indoor molds have the
potential to cause health problems. Molds produce allergens, irritants,
and in some cases, potentially toxic substances (mycotoxins). Inhaling
or touching mold or mold spores may cause allergic reactions in
sensitive individuals. Allergic responses to mold are common, and may
include hay fever-type symptoms, such as sneezing, runny nose, red eyes,
and skin rash (dermatitis). Molds can also cause asthma attacks in
people with asthma who are allergic to mold. In addition, mold exposure
can irritate the eyes, skin, nose, throat, and lungs of both
mold-allergic and non-allergic people.
Researchers from University Hospital of Besancon (France)
studied 500 rooms in 128 houses across France. The team found that
mold buildup was most reliably correlated to factors such as the floor
on which the room was located, the efficiency of the ventilation
system, type of heating system used, and past water damage.
Interestingly, the researchers found that the concentrations of mold in
bathroom air were no higher than in bedrooms, kitchens, or living
rooms. They did, however, find that 18% of rooms with no visible molds
or smell were, in actuality, highly contaminated.
Because mold can be hidden behind walls or under carpets, it is important for homeowners to be vigilant as to maintaining a dry and well-ventilated premises for dwelling.