With many of us spending more time indoors, ensuring safe air quality is more important than ever before. If your health has been feeling “off” lately, there may be an unexpected reason why: an undetected mold infestation in your home or apartment. Let’s look at some common warning signs that mold is becoming a health problem in your living space and explore some simple actions you can take to fix it.
Mold—A Pervasive Problem
Mold is a much more common problem in buildings and homes than many people think. When left untreated, it poses a significant risk to health and wellbeing. According to some estimates, roughly 70% of homes in the United States have mold of some kind. It’s important to remember that not all mold is dangerous to your health—but many are.
10 Health Symptoms of Mold Exposure
If you’re wondering if an unseen mold infestation could be affecting you or your family, an excellent place to start is by evaluating your health. If you’re currently experiencing one or several of the following symptoms, it’s time to take the next steps towards mitigating the problem (more on that shortly).
- Stuffy nose
- Sore throat
- Coughing or wheezing
- Tightness in the chest
- Hair loss
- Memory loss
- Brain fog
- Burning eyes
- Skin rash
Mold exposure will affect each person differently, and this list is not exhaustive. For example, in asthmatic people or those with a mold allergy, reactions will be much more severe than in the general population. Additionally, immune-compromised people or those with chronic lung disease may develop severe infections in their lungs from mold exposure.
What Causes Mold in a Home?
Mold is an opportunistic scoundrel. It enters your home through ventilation, cracks in the walls, leaky roofing, and open doors or windows. Once in your home, mold will flourish on pretty much any surface imaginable, including household dust, insulation, drywall, carpet, fabric, paper, cardboard, wood, and much, much more. If you live in a humid climate (like Michigan), mold may be more of a concern as it thrives in damp areas. As a solution, it’s suggested that you keep your home at less than 50% humidity. A simple dehumidifier will do the trick in most cases.
What To Do When You Suspect a Mold Problem in Your Home
So, you’re feeling off and suspect that mold may be the cause. What’s your next best step?
- First, contact your healthcare provider right away to schedule a check-up.
- Second, do a thorough search in your home for signs of mold or evidence of water damage. Remove porous materials like carpet or drywall that you think may harbor mold.
Thoroughly clean hard surfaces with a bleach solution.
- If you can’t find obvious signs of mold but still suspect it may be present, schedule a mold
test with a local home inspector. A home inspector will look for signs of both active and
prior water intrusion and existing mold in all safely accessible areas, and sample the air
in your home for mold. Test results are typically available within three business days and
will tell you whether there is indeed a mold infestation in your living space and whether any existing mold poses a risk to your health.
When it comes to mold, ignorance is not bliss. Listen to your body if something feels off. The sooner you identify the problem, the sooner you can mitigate risk and get back to enjoying your health and vitality.
Rich Beasley is an InterNACHI Certified Home Inspector and owner of UP Home Inspection, LLC. He holds over a dozen specialty certifications, including Mold Inspector, Radon Tester, Water Quality Tester, Indoor Air Consultant, and many more.
Excerpted with permission from the Summer 2021 issue of Health & Happiness U.P. Magazine. Copyright 2021, Empowering Lightworks, LLC. All rights reserved.