Could numerous health problems people experienced either in their homes, schools or in their work environments be a result of toxic mold exposure? Many doctors seem to think so, which has this toxic tort generating nationwide litigation. Although you may not be able to see, feel or smell the dangerous mycotoxins produced by Stachybotrys mold, the affects can be hazardous to adult health and fatal to infants.
Toxic molds produce poisonous gases known as mycotoxins. Once the mold toxins are airborne, they can rest on clothing or skin and become trapped in mucus membranes from breathing. Exposure from toxic mold can cause severe headaches, chronic fatigue, nose and throat irritation, persistent cold-like mold allergy symptoms, and memory loss (in addition to many other health problems).
People with poor immune systems, serious allergies or severe asthma are more susceptible to lung infections or upper-respiratory infections from exposure; however, the highest risk is to infants. Babies breathing toxic gases are vulnerable to pulmonary hemorrhage, which in most cases is fatal.
Sick Building Syndrome
Mycotoxins affect humans in many different ways. Some people may have immediate reactions, and others may not notice or exhibit symptoms for several days or weeks. Several people exhibiting similar patterns of ill health in their work, school or home environment may suffer from what is known as "Sick Building Syndrome."
If your co-workers, school mates or family members show signs of chronic fatigue, daily headaches, persistent cold-like or flu-like symptoms, they could be suffering from exposure to volatile organic compounds or VOCs (toxic mold is considered a VOC).
Toxic mold can grow on almost any surface, sometimes lurking behind wallpaper, underneath bathtubs and flooring, in air ventilation systems and in sheet rock or dry wall, spreading quickly and often growing in dark and concealed areas. It prefers to colonize near moisture or in high humidity (usually over 55%) and on high-cellulose materials, such as wood or carpets. Homes with limited air flow, water leaks, continued condensation, poorly installed stucco, and poor drainage all host the perfect mold environment.
Unfortunately, not many people are able to determine if a mold growing in their office, school or home is harmless or toxic. Molds are very similar in shape and color. Testing for air quality and for pathogens is the safest and most accurate way to rule out if there are any VOCs present.
Mold Exposure Symptoms
Mycotoxins can affect humans in many different ways. Some people may experience immediate reactions, while others may have mild or moderate symptoms. Some may not develop or exhibit symptoms until several days or weeks later. However, if you believe that you are suffering from toxic mold exposure, you should consult with your physician.
Symptoms of toxic "black" mold exposure can include but are not limited to:
- memory loss
- problems focusing or concentrating
- chronic fatigue
- nose and throat irritation
- persistent cold-like symptoms
- burning, itching or watering eyes
- heart palpitations
- shortness of breath (during mild exertion)
- exhaustion after routine activity
- serious swelling in legs, ankles, feet
- serious swelling in torso or stomach
- prolonged muscle cramps and joint pain
- sensitivity to odors
- when away from "work" or "home" (especially when away for long periods of time) notice symptoms lessen or disappear
- women who are pregnant could experience multiple problems, even miscarriages
Molds can be very similar in shape and color. Testing for air quality and for pathogens is the safest and most accurate way to rule out if there are any VOCs present. Some molds that are harmful or toxic are considered VOCs, that produce poisonous gases known as mycotoxins.
Cleaning areas that host mold or mildew
During cleanup, thousands of mold spores could be released into the air. Before you clean areas with mold or mildew, we suggest you read the health tips below:
- Anyone who suffers from chronic illness, such as asthma or emphysema, should not participate in the cleanup.
- Use a HEPA filter respirator (found at most hardware stores) to reduce the amount of mold spores you breathe in.
- Put on protective clothing that can be easily cleaned or discarded.
- Wear rubber or latex gloves.
- Only those cleaning should be present in the mold or mildew area.
- Keep your exposure to a minimum by taking breaks in a fresh air location.
- Open as many windows as you can in your house before cleanup and leave them open for several hours after cleanup.
- Make sure that the heat or air conditioning is OFF to prevent mold spores from being spread around the home.
- Tightly cover any of the heat/air conditioning vents or return vents.
- Place a fan in an exterior window, blowing air from the affected room outside.
- Double bag any materials if you plan to remove them from a contaminated area.
Molds can grow on almost any surface, sometimes lurking behind wallpaper, underneath bathtubs and flooring, in air ventilation systems and in sheet rock or dry wall, spreading quickly and often growing in dark and concealed areas. It prefers to colonize near moisture or in high humidity (usually over 55%) and on high-cellulose materials, such as wood or carpets. Homes with limited air flow, water leaks, continued condensation, poorly installed stucco, and poor drainage all host the perfect mold environment.
Have you recently discovered mold in your house, office or car? Are you an insurance company that is handling a mold claim for one of your insureds? Did you then call a company to "remediate" or, in laymen’s terms, "clean it up?" If you have recently experienced problems with mold, and cleaning up mold, you are in the company of a growing number of Americans. As mold claims grow, so do the companies that allegedly know how to deal with the problem. Recently, there has been a rise in lawsuits involving mold remediation companies regarding their failure to diagnose the mold problem, and their failure to correctly get rid of the mold. These companies are making a lot of money off of homeowners and insurance companies. Most families who have a mold problem want to salvage their homes. A family cannot save a mold-infested home without a mold remediation contractor.
Unfortunately, most states lack any licensing requirements for mold remediation companies. Consequently, any business can wear the hat of "mold remediator." Right now, your best protection against pseudo mold remediators is to get references and investigate a company’s background
and experience prior to hiring it.
This web site is designed to only provide general information and is not directed toward providing legal or medical advice or establishing an attorney-client relationship.