Molds are fast-growing indoor and outdoor microorganisms that come under the category of kingdom fungi and often thrive in wet places. Mold has been seen as a threat to human lives, but some molds can be used for medicines or foods(cheese). Furthermore, floods, leaking roofs, and pipe leaks will give birth to mold indoors. Moreover, food waste, water contamination, and poor infrastructure increase the number of molds in workplaces. On the other hand, molds are found outdoors too. Generally, they are present on rotting logs, grass, and leaves. Outdoor molds are often indolent in the winter season. Regardless of the environment, molds give birth to different diseases. Some are serious, for instance, worsening asthma, hypersensitivity pneumonitis, and an unspecified number of acute illnesses such as itchy eyes and dizziness.
Molds need different things to survive, such as moisture, oxygen, darkness, food, and warmth, and they are incapable of growing without any one of the aforementioned things. Although mold is found everywhere, there are some ways to remove mold and control it, such as moisture control with a dehumidifier and fixing leaks. Therefore, cleaning up the molds before one excessively gets exposed to molds and suffers from different diseases is crucial.
The Presence of Mold Indoors
All kinds of families generally ignore indoor air quality, which is significant as humans spend a significant amount of time indoors with bad air quality giving birth to microorganisms like mold. Moreover, Overcrowded houses and buildings have more dampness, which assists in mold elevation. Mold is a microscopic organism that thrives in both outdoor and indoor environments and spreads via airborne spores. Some of the most common molds that are found indoors are Cladosporium, Penicillium, Aspergillus, and Stachybotrys chartarum, also called black mold. Regardless of its name, black mold hasn't been the main cause of many health issues.
Molds create spores, which are dispersed by air movement, and whether it's cold or hot, human activities indoors cause moisture, which leads to the growth of molds. In the following places, mold may be found:
- Wet carpets
- Moist paper
- Washing machines and dishwashers
- Potted plants
- Ceiling tiles
Poorly ventilated systems don't provide sufficient air for dehumidification, leading to mold nurturing. Hence, maintaining indoor air quality will assist in the control of mold.
Requirements for Molds
Molds are the reason for heaps of health problems, and it is expensive to remove them occasionally. Molds need five things to grow, and without these things, molds are unable to grow. The brief information is given below:
Just like other living beings, mold needs moisture to grow and thrive, and the moisture levels must be above 60 percent relative humidity.
For example, pipe leaks are one of the main reasons for mold growth and need to be fixed, or the moisture level will increase even if one replaces the wet walls.
Molds are aerobes, and they have the potential to grow at deficient concentrations of oxygen.
Molds are not photosynthetic and don't require light to produce energy; their growth might be hindered or killed by sunlight. Hence, they develop better in a dark ambiance.
One of the things that mold needs to grow in a perfect environment is warmth, and molds grow faster in temperatures above 60 degrees Fahrenheit.
Molds flourish on food items such as nuts and bread, and a few of these contain harmful substances called mycotoxins. Mycotoxins cause chronic diseases such as cancer and immune deficiencies.
Mold spores grow and lengthen as they absorb water, and they develop into protuberances called hyphae, emitting digestive enzymes and mycotoxins. The food source is broken down by the fungi, thus supporting their growth.
Outdoor Mold Exposure
Mold can grow both indoors and outdoors, and mold circulates in the atmosphere as a result of air currents. Forests, beaches, and stagnant water are where one can find outdoor molds.
Additionally, Alternaria and Cladosporium are the two molds that are commonly found outdoors. Some spores disperse in windy, dry conditions, whereas a few others spread in humid conditions with fog or dew. One can find the highest number of spores during the nighttime when it's cloudy, moist, or rainy.
Alternaria is one of the most frequently occurring outdoor molds. Nevertheless, it resides on plants and plant materials as a parasite and in dead rotten vegetables. Furthermore, they are usually considered the reason for black spots on potatoes.
Although It is regarded as an outdoor mold, Cladosporium can be found both indoors and outdoors, and it is one of the three most commonly found indoor airborne fungi. One can find them on plants, in soil, and in food.
Health Problems Caused by Mold
Humans always come into contact with tons of species of mold, be it outdoors or indoors. Environments like indoors consist of molds that are both living and dead, and also fragments such as toxins, allergens, and other chemicals. A few of the organisms have enhanced indoor concentrations that are anticipated to be higher in damp indoor environments, which may impact the health of people living there.
On the other hand, asthma is one of the most widespread illnesses brought on by mold. Buildings that are damp and moldy have considerably worsened asthma in individuals.
Asthma is a chronic illness that impacts the airways present in the lungs. Heightened exposure to mold will develop asthma in children. A common mold named Aspergillus fumigatus may contribute to asthma by blocking airways as a result of excessive mucus production.
Perennial allergic rhinitis: Mold antigen and exposure have been long linked to the growth of perennial allergic rhinitis. Clear rhinorrhea, nasal congestion, and coughing are symptoms of the early stage of an allergic reaction.
Other health conditions
Sore throat, dizziness, and skin irritation are some of the sicknesses caused by mold. Furthermore, when humans are allergic to mold, they experience symptoms such as runny noses and coughing, whereas people who don't possess allergies witness sore throats and headaches as symptoms.
The increase in growth is influenced by climate change as the climatic conditions outside the building impact the climatic conditions inside the building. Several people suffering from allergies and asthma are affected by a higher number of dust and mold spores due to climate change.
On the other hand, Climate change has impacted the rise in sea level, and the increased frequency and length of floods are expected to increase the number of damp problems in buildings. Furthermore, due to climate change, floods enter buildings and homes during times of heavy rains and strong winds, and therefore, the number of molds increases owing to the climate crisis.
Molds in Workplaces
Mold growth may be prevalent in poorly ventilated workplaces like factories. On the other hand, since paper contains cellulose and molds flourish on paper, they can be found in factories or buildings that have paper. If the harvest is put off, farms and stables can have a lot of molds as mold toxins grow on hay and are dangerous for both humans and animals to consume (cows or horses).
When Does a Person Need to Visit a Doctor?
One is advised to consult a doctor if they are suffering from mold symptoms like red eyes and skin irritation.
You must remember that individuals with underlying conditions like a weakened immune system are more susceptible to chronic side effects like infections.
Mold Removal and Cleanup
Mold is not considered a threat to human health in an indoor environment until it settles on a wet surface and begins to grow. Given below are some of the ways an individual can clean up mold:
- Elimination of moisture sources through improved ventilation and the use of dehumidifiers to control humidity during humid months. Moreover, leaking of pipes and roofs frequently gives rise to mold, so it would be advisable to fix roofs and pipes. After the moisture source has been addressed, one has to buy a hygrometer from a nearby hardware store and make sure the humidity level is below 60%.
- After usage, such as showers, one has to dry moist surfaces. If flooding happens, one should clean and dry the affected area as soon as possible. Some materials cannot be dried up, such as ceiling tiles and wood products; these materials must be discarded. Conversely, one has to wear a respirator with a HEPA filter mask and gloves while dealing with moldy objects. So that one does not breathe in airborne spores.
- Non-porous objects such as glass and plastic must be cleaned with bleach and water, with gloves and eye protection recommended because bleach can irritate the eyes. Never combine bleach with ammonia since the gasses will be poisonous.
Molds have both advantages and disadvantages, but humans are often inclined towards disadvantages because there are more cons than pros. When it comes to health, most people don't take the necessary precautions, such as wearing masks when exposed to mold. It is mandatory to spread awareness and know how harmful molds are. Despite the environment, mold is everywhere, and mold exposure causes many diseases, which can be stopped by using bleach and controlling moisture. Using a dehumidifier will also assist in the prevention of mold. Nevertheless, applying paint on the walls will only hide mold, but the mold keeps growing. Thus, preventing mold growth will reduce health problems.