Mold health issues.
Mold is a kind of microscopic fungus. There are many types and they are present throughout the environment, indoors and out. Tiny mold particles, known as spores, are always present in the air and can germinate and grow in a moist or damp environment on any surface that contains organic matter. A home that's been flooded can provide ideal conditions for the growth and proliferation of mold.
Why is mold a health concern?
Indoor mold can trigger allergies or allergy-like symptoms affecting the upper respiratory system. Although other, more serious problems may occur if people are exposed to very high levels of mold, the most common
• Nasal and sinus congestion.
• Wheeze/breathing difficulties.
• Sore throat.
• Skin and eye irritation.
• Upper respiratory infections (including sinus infections).
The effects of mold can vary widely. However, long-term exposure to high levels from indoor mold growth eventually can be unhealthy for anyone. Infants, children and the elderly are at greater risk than others. Individuals with respiratory conditions or sensitivities, such as severe indoor allergies and asthma, and persons with weakened immune systems are also at a higher risk in a moldy environment.
After a flood, many people become convinced that testing is the best way to find out if you have a mold problem. That isn't necessarily true. The most practical and reliable tools for detecting a mold problem are your eyes and nose. If you see something that looks like mold, or you detect an earthy or musty smell, you should assume a mold problem exists. The presence of moisture or worsening allergy-like symptoms also can indicate a mold problem.
When you check for mold, be sure to:
• Look for visible mold (discoloration, staining or fuzzy growth). • Search areas with noticeable mold odors.
• Look for signs of excess moisture or water damage.
• Use protective equipment and dust control methods.
People who have health problems or are very sensitive to mold should not do cleanup work where there is heavy mold growth or a high risk of disturbing materials contaminated with mold. People who are in poor physical condition should be extremely cautious about doing heavy work while wearing a respirator.
If you plan to enter a moldy environment, especially where moldy materials are being disturbed, you should use a respirator. At a minimum, use an N95 or an N100-type disposable respirator. Greater respiratory protection may be needed if you are sensitive to airborne contaminants or where mold growth is heavy or covers an extensive area. More options include half-face, negative-air respirators with a HEPA filter or supplied air respirators such as a powered air-purifying respirator.
Source: Pensacola News Journal, Dr. Asser El-Atfy, pulmonologist at Santa Rosa Medical Center.
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