Molds are definitely bad for those who suffer from mold allergies. The presence of molds are often invisible and undetectable. After pollens, molds are the leading cause of airborne allergies, which can recur year-round.
Molds can be found almost everywhere, indoors and outdoors. They are always present in the air and on objects. They grow best in warm, damp, and humid conditions, and spread and reproduce by producing spores. These spores than move via air currents or they may cling to insects, animals or water.
When cold and dry conditions do not enable growth to take place, molds may remain alive in a dormant state for a long time.
Molds grow from dead or living objects. It is unknown how many species of fungi exist, but estimates range from tens of thousands to perhaps 300,000 or more.
Molds are made of microscopic threads or filaments. These threads are called hyphe. A vast collection of hyphe is called a mycelium. Visual inspections (when the colonies large enough for the naked eye) and smell are two important senses to detecting the presence of mold.
Outdoor molds can be found in humid environments, in shady, damp areas or places where leaves or other vegetation is decomposing. Mold can live on soil, plants, rotting wood, or dead leaves and various moist surfaces. Mold cannot grow under the sun’s ultraviolet light. Outdoor molds usually bothering allergy sufferers from spring to late fall, and mold counts tend to pick in the afternoon (not in the morning like pollens).
Indoors molds can be present where humidity levels are high, such as basements, kitchen, bathrooms, refrigerators, in areas with poor ventilation, moist carpets, and house plants. Most molds need 24-48 hours of moisture to begin to grow. Therefore if a suitable material in your home is wet for more than 24 hours then you run the risk of mold starting to grow.
Some molds are beneficial for us. Molds play an important role in certain fermentation process in food production. We eat molds in our cheese, yogurt, soy sauce, wine and beer, mushrooms, vinegar, pickles, dried fruits, foods containing yeast (like bread), pickled and smoked meats and fish, canned juice. Some cheese and sausages (such as salami), use starter cultures in their production, to improve flavor and reduce spoilage during curing.
Red rice yeast is a product of the mold grown on rice, and is common in Asian diets. The yeast contains monacolins, which are known to inhibit cholesterol synthesis. We also use mold as antibiotics to cure diseases. Penicillin for example, is derived from the mold Penicillium.
The three mechanism for disease caused by molds are infection, allergy, and toxicity.
The antibiotic penicillin (from Penicillium)), and several cholesterol-lowering drugs (such as Lovastatin, from Aspergillus terreus) are derived from molds.
Some molds produce mycotoxins. Extended or high exposure of mycotoxins can lead to neurological problems, even death. On the other hand low doses of mycotoxins can be beneficial for humans, e.g. Penicillin to fight off infection.
Allergy symptoms caused by mold are watery, itchy eyes, a chronic cough, sinus problems, nasal blockage, frequent sneezing, rashes, conjunctivitis, inability to concentrate, difficulty breathing, fatigue. Symptoms usually disappear when the mold is removed.
Factors contribute to increasing mold counts:
- Poor housekeeping practice (leaving dirty dishes, food, cloth and wet towels lying around the house, keeping trash in the house, and infrequent house cleaning.)
- Using ceiling fans instead of air conditions because humidity is not removed from the air. Inefficient filters used in the heating/cooling system allow dirt to accumulate which provide “food” for mold.
Preventing moisture from accumulating is the most important principle in mold control for allergy sufferers. The best way to get rid of mold indoors is by keeping room temperatures within 65° – 70°F and the relative humidity level within 45%-65%.
Charcoal and /or baking soda is a good practice to remove the odor of the mold. Just place bowls of baking soda in the area to absorb odor.
To clean up mold in the house, best chemicals are; Bleach, borax, vinegar, ammonia.
- Top 5 Airborne Allergy Triggers (livingwithallergy.com)
- Fighting Fall Allergies? (everydayhealth.com)
- Puddles of Goo? Brainless Slime Molds Have Memories (news.yahoo.com)