What Are the Dangers of Mold and Mildew?

Mold and mildew exposure symptoms can include hives.
Grapes with mildew on them.
People may experience congestion, sneezing and runny noses due to mold and mildew.
An orange with mold on it.
Moldy bread.
Short term exposure to mold and mildew can compromise one's immune system and cause a burning throat.
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  • Written By: L. Burgoon
  • Edited By: Jenn Walker
  • Last Modified Date: 01 September 2014
  • Copyright Protected:
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Mold and mildew are both fungi that grow in moist environments, such as damp basements or bathrooms. The fungi can grow on any household surface—from wood to carpet to tile—and on food. The main safety issue, especially from toxic mold, comes from inhaling the spores, which can lead to respiratory and nervous system problems. Exposure to the fungi also may cause skin, eye, nose and throat irritation. While people with preexisting conditions may particularly suffer, the side effects of mold and mildew can hit anyone.

Most homes have at least a minor mildew and mold presence that causes few dangerous side effects. The danger of the fungi escalates with major cases. The growth starts within 48 hours of a surface’s exposure to moisture. Unchecked, mildew—which is mold in its early stage—starts to appear. The growth advances to full-blown mold that spreads by spores traveling in the air.

Some molds produce mycotoxin, a potentially toxic substance that is extremely dangerous to inhale. This toxic mold, which often looks like black paint or tar, grows on surfaces repeatedly exposed to heavy moisture, usually from water damage. Short-term exposure to the mold can compromise an individual’s immune system, leading to fatigue, headaches, burning throat and nasal passages, and cold and flu-like symptoms. The mycotoxins attack the nervous system with long-term exposure, leading to dizziness, mood changes and memory loss. In some cases, black mold is fatal to animals and humans.

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Mold and mildew present health dangers even if the contamination is not caused by toxic varieties. Respiratory problems are very common, especially in people with preexisting issues, such as asthma. These substances can increase the frequency and intensity of asthma attacks. Exposure also may cause wheezing or a burning feeling when inhaling.

The fungi also may result in repeated bouts of cold- or allergy-like symptoms that do not go away or get better with medication. People may experience sore throats, congestion, sinus problems, sneezing and runny noses. These substances can also cause eye irritation manifested in redness, itchiness or watering. Exposure may lead to skin rashes, bumps or hives as well.

People with certain health conditions, including compromised immunity, severe allergies and asthma, are more susceptible to the dangerous effects of mold and mildew. Long-term exposure, however, can lead to any of the negative side effects, even in healthy people. Those who notice such problems and who do not respond to medical treatments should check their homes for mildew and mold.

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anon331107
Post 4

I am working in a old building which is loaded with lots of junk. I am removing everything to a dumpster. This place has mold and mildew everywhere. How should I protect myself and my health while working?

golf07
Post 3

What is the best way to get rid of mold and mildew odor? Some cleaners I have tired get rid of the mold, but there is still that odor that I have a hard time getting rid of.

We have carpet in our basement, and I think I may end up ripping out all of the carpet to totally get rid of the smell.

I would like to put down something like tile and use rugs instead of having carpet in an area that seems to stay damp a lot of the time.

In the mean time, does anyone have any good suggestions to get this smell out of my carpet?

julies
Post 2

I live in an area of the country where most homes have basements. In fact, I can't ever remember living in a home that didn't have one.

Some of them were pretty scary places to be and always had a mold and mildew smell to them. If the basement is just used as a storage space and not living quarters, I can see how it would be easy for this to happen.

As a kid, our basement was always a scary place to me, and I never wanted to go down there by myself. I still think of that moldy smell when I go down into a basement today.

Maybe I am strange, but I have never liked basements and prefer to be upstairs where it is light and there are lots of windows.

honeybees
Post 1

My son has asthma and we never let him sleep in the basement even though we had finished bedrooms down there.

If he spends much time in a damp environment like that his asthma always gets worse. A few times after we had a lot of rain, I would notice some mold growing along the wall in the basement.

I had someone tell me the best mold and mildew remover was to put some bleach in a spray bottle and use that to get rid of it.

This has worked for me every time and is much cheaper than buying a special cleaner that would probably do the same thing.

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