The Truth About "Toxic" Mold
Concern about toxic mold is increasing with heightened public awareness that exposure can cause serious health problems- and even death. However, all molds, toxic or not, should be of concern when they persist at elevated levels indoors.
Mold affects both the home and workplace environment, compromising the structural integrity of buildings and the health of those inside.
Recent claim settlements have reached high into the millions-the most notorious case being a $32 million settlement in Austin, Texas, which was later reduced to a $4 million verdict.
The heath effects associated with mold vary depending on the type of mold and the person exposed. Immuno-altered and immuno-compromised individuals (i.e. infants, elderly, and those with pre-existing conditions) are at a much higher risk of suffering health effects. Exposure to mold, via skin contact, ingestion, or inhalation, can result in allergic reactions, infections, or toxic (poisonous) effects. The associated symptoms range from a rash and cold and flu-like effects to neurological damage and even death.
Molds are found almost everywhere; they can grow on virtually any organic substance, as long as moisture and oxygen are present. In buildings, molds grow on wood, paper, carpet, foods, and insulation. When excessive moisture accumulates in buildings or on building materials, mold growth will often occur, particularly if the moisture remains undiscovered or unaddressed. It is impossible to eliminate all mold and mold spores in the indoor environment. Indoor mold growth is manageable, however, by controlling moisture.
In some cases, indoor mold growth may not be obvious. Mold can grow on hidden surfaces, such as the backside of dry wall, wallpaper, or paneling, the top of ceiling tiles, the underside of carpets and pads, etc. Some building materials, such as vinyl wallpaper may act as a vapor barrier, trapping moisture beneath the surface and thereby providing a moist environment where mold can grow on the wallboard or wood paneling underneath.
While all mold growth should be immediately addressed in the indoor environment, there are several types of mold that are of particular concern:
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