Health and Building Mold Damage

What is mold?

Mold is microscopic fungi that grows in damp areas as high humidity assist it's growth. Fungi are highly adapted to grow and reproduce rapidly, producing spores and mycelia in the process.

Mold is undesirable when it grows in our homes and buildings, releasing chemicals and spores. Over 270 species of mold have been identified as living in Canadian homes. Mold is not just an ugly sight that can ruin clothing or furniture; it is a health hazard that can seriously contaminate the air you breathe. Mold produces microscopic cells called "spores" that can be spread through air, water, or even on the bodies of insects.

Spores of some species contain low molecular weight chemicals that are cytotoxic or have other toxic properties (e.g. satratoxins produced by Stachybotrys chartarum). Some molds, such as Aspergillus fumigatus, can cause opportunistic infection in immunocompromised individuals and severe allergic diseases in people with underlying respiratory conditions, such as asthma or cystic fibrosis.

Mold health effects

Health experts indicate that, depending on the type of mold present in a building, the amount and degree of exposure, and the health condition of the occupant, the health effects of mold can range from being insignificant to causing allergic reactions and illness.

North American and European studies show a relationship between mold and damp conditions, and an increase in the following symptoms:

  • Eye, nose and throat irritation
  • Coughing and phlegm build-up
  • Wheezing and shortness of breath
  • Allergic reactions

Although it seems clear that exposure to mold can worsen the symptoms of asthma, it is still unclear whether or not it actually causes asthma in otherwise healthy people.

There does not have to be an extensive amount of mold in an area to affect certain people. Pregnant women, infants, the elderly and those with health problems, such as respiratory disease or a weakened immune system, are more at risk when exposed to mold.

Toxic Mold such as Stachybotrys and Memnoniella can cause serious and sometimes fatal health conditions. Remember that all molds can be harmful to your health, especially in your home and especially to people with allergies.

  • You may develop a skin rash.
  • Flu like symptoms such as nasal stuffiness, fever, headaches, abdominal pain and diarrhea may occur.
  • Can induce serious respiratory problems.
  • Causes eye irritation.
  • May cause wheezing or shortness or breath.

People with chronic illnesses, such as obstructive lung disease, may develop mold infections in their lungs.

Symptoms of black mold or toxic mold exposure may not seem life threatening at the onset. Over time more serious illnesses may develop.

  • Nasal Congestion
  • Irritation of the eyes
  • Inflammation of the sinuses
  • Irritation of the skin
  • Breathlessness
  • Headache
  • Runny nose
  • Fatigue
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Hoarseness

More serious symptoms

  • Inflammation of the ear
  • Bleeding Lungs
  • Nose Bleeds
  • Memory Loss

To avoid potential health problems, Health Canada recommends that you remove any mold that already exists, and take steps to minimize dampness in order to reduce the likelihood of future mold growth.

Structural affect of Mold in Buildings

Sick building syndrome (SBS) describes a series of symptoms with no clear etiology associated with a building environment. Damage to materials is one concern. Materials get stained or discolored, and over time they are ruined. Moldy paper and cardboard disintegrate over time. Fabrics are damaged. Continued mold growth can be indicative of moisture conditions favorable for growth of fungi that cause wood rot and structural damage.

Excessive moisture cause problems like mold and mildew and eventually compromising the house's structural integrity, leading to very expensive repair bills. Small mold area cleanup by professional can cost several hundred dollars. Big jobs are, obviously, more complicated and can run into the tens of thousands for large houses. If mold gets into the ventilation system, clean up must be throughout the house. Then the job becomes similar to asbestos removal — sealing the windows, high-efficiency filters to clean the air, vacuums with filters, all surfaces cleaned. Techniques for cleaning up mold have become more sophisticated and expensive. As a result, many insurers are panicking, often refusing to cover mold claims under existing policies and rewriting their policy forms to exclude all coverage for mold, regardless of origin.

Mold can decrease property values, forcing many owners into default and mortgages into a "non-performing loan" category, the worst- case scenario for lenders. That classification causes a negative chain reaction from ratings agencies, regulatory authorities, and shareholders.

It cannot be emphasized enough that the best way to manage mold growth is to prevent it before it occurs. The essential elements of a prevention strategy are the control of moisture.

Drymatec is an innovative and cost effective solution that will help you to secure healthy and safe environment at your house or workplace by keeping your building free of dampness and mold.