An industry seems to have sprung up over the past several decades to deal with the threat of toxic mold, but is it a real threat?
How Much of a Threat Does Toxic Mold Pose?
According to the CDC, it is not accurate to refer to black mold or any other type of mold as toxic. They explain that, while there are some molds which produce toxins, the molds themselves are not toxic. The hazards that they pose are the same as those posed by “normal” mold. The number of reports linking toxic mold to unique health conditions like brain loss and pulmonary hemorrhage are very small, and not enough to draw a link.
None of this means that mold does not pose a threat. It has been shown to cause problems in the primary respiratory track, particularly in people who already have asthma, allergies, or respiratory problems of one kind or another. Normally healthy people may cough or wheeze in its presence. There is some limited evidence suggesting that mold may cause otherwise healthy children to develop breathing problems, which is certainly enough to cause concern for most parents.
Should You Drop Everything and Run if You Find Mold?
Mold is everywhere. It will grow anywhere that moisture can be found, and Stachybotrys chartarum, which is typically the species referred to as toxic mold, is not rare at all. Spotting mold growing in your home is not enough of a reason to pick up everything and leave. There are some people who it may pose a health risk to, and others who may not be affected at all. The only way to address the situation is to see a doctor in order to determine if the mold is the source of the problem.
Removing Mold is Usually Easy
It is not usually as difficult to remove mold as many in the industry claim. In reality, most standard cleaning products will get the job done. You can use soap and water if you like. Many people recommend a bleach solution consisting of a cup of bleach to every gallon of water.
There are, of course, some materials which can become completely infected with mold. If tiles, drywall, or carpet become moldy through, they may need to be removed entirely. It is under these circumstance that you will need to contact a professional who can remove the infestation and repair the damaged area.
If you do choose to use bleach, which is not necessary, be sure to open the windows, do not mix it with any other cleaners, wear protective gloves and eye protection, and talk to to EPA if the area is larger than ten feet across.
The area must always be thoroughly cleaned and dried. Dead mold can still cause an allergic reaction, so it must be removed entirely. If moisture persists, the mold can return. If there is a continuous source of moisture, it may need to be addressed by a contractor who can fix the leak.