Is Mold harmful or not?

The million dollar question in the Washington D.C Metropolitan Area is…..“Is mold harmful or not?” While some sources say, ‘Mold is no big deal’, others say, ‘Mold can kill’! So which is it?

  • Harmful or not harmful?
  • Do we flee or do we stay?

I guarantee you that there are probably a ‘gazillion’ other people pondering over this same question, right now! Interestingly, the question ‘Is mold harmful?’ is fairly straightforward. However, the answer is relatively complex. Let’s take a look, shall we?…….

What are Molds?

According to the United States Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), molds are fungi that can be found both indoors and outdoors. They have an affiliation for moisture and grow best in warm, damp, and humid conditions. They spread and reproduce by making spores which have the tendency to survive unusually harsh environmental conditions.

Types/Species of Mold

There are several types of mold and they come in a variety of colors and forms. Some of the more popular species include:

  • Stachybotrys (often referred to as ‘toxic black mold’)
  • Aspergillus,
  • Cladosporium
  • And Penicillin.

The potential power of mold lies in the fact that some species have the potential to produce one or more toxic chemical products known as ‘Mycotoxins’.

Mycotoxins

‘Myco’ stems from Greek and means ‘fungus’ while ‘toxin’ which also stems from Greek means ‘poison’. So in essence, a mycotoxin is a poison produced by a fungus. These ‘poisons’ are the culprits! It is the mycotoxins that have the potential to make us sick, not the mold alone!

Good Mold, Bad Mold!

Not all types of mold produce harmful toxins. Some molds are actually beneficial. Take Penicillin for example, this type of mold is used in food processing to make certain cheeses. It gets better, Penicillin is also used medically as an antibiotic treatment in various infections. Stachybotrys on the other hand, commonly known as ‘toxic black mold’ and can produce mycotoxins that cause ailments related to pain and inflammation of our mucus membranes. As for Aspergillus, a few known varieties are aflatoxins! Aflatoxins are one of the most carcinogenic (cancer causing) substances yet discovered!

The Snake Analogy:

To simplify matters, treat mold as you would treat snakes! Snakes come in a variety of colors too! Some are extremely poisonous while others, not so much! As a matter of fact, there are all sorts of mnemonics to help us remember which snakes to avoid. Remember this one? …..”Red on black, friend of Jack; Red on yellow, kill a fellow.”

Realistically, how many mnemonics would we have to memorize in order to remain safe? Let’s call a spade a spade shall we? ….. not an instrument for digging! Grass snake, tree snake, rattle snake or python…….. A snake is a snake, and it’s much easier, not to mention safer to steer clear of snakes altogether than to try to figure out which ones are harmful and which are not? The same applies to mold. It’s much easier and safer to completely avoid mold instead of trying to figure out the type present and its possible poison!

The Bottom Line

Flee!  The ‘layperson’, does not have sufficient knowledge or expertise to determine which species may be harmful or not. Just avoid mold at all costs. If you even suspect that you may have a potential mold issue, call a pro!

At Triangle Legacy, we boast expertise in Mold Remediation & Removal. For a free consultation relative to your mold remediation and removal needs, please contact us at (301) 523-9419 or Toll Free at 1-800-830-3324.

We currently serve the Washington D.C Metropolitan Area including Alexandria, Springfield, Arlington and Fairfax County in Virginia

Sources

Image: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/0/08/FEMA_-_44263_-_Mold_Remediation_Awareness.jpg

CDC Mold Basic Facts: http://www.cdc.gov/mold/faqs.htm

EPA Mold: https://www.epa.gov/mold

 

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