As summer winds down, Oregonians start wondering when the fall rains will arrive. With the rain comes more calls to the CROET Toxicology Information Center (TIC) related to indoor mold. Indoor mold growth is actually a year-round problem, but as it gets cooler we close windows, turn off air conditioners and fire up the heat, which changes the movement and exchange of air within homes and buildings. This often leads to changes in moisture and humidity indoors, especially in kitchens and bathrooms. Leaky roofs and foundations are often revealed once the rains have become entrenched. The end result is more Oregonians finding mold growing where it shouldn’t.
Mold is a problem of moisture. Leaky roofs, standing water under foundations, dampness in air ducts and on window and wall surfaces: all may bring mold. The most common question from callers to the TIC, “where can I have this mold tested?” relates to the fear that the mold in question is “toxic mold”. According to the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, “… mold has been associated with health issues ranging from coughs to asthma to allergic rhinitis. However, current scientific evidence does not support the existence of a causal relationship between inhaled mycotoxins in the home, school, or office environment and adverse human health effects.”
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) states, “Generally, it is not necessary to identify the species of mold growing in a residence, and CDC does not recommend routine sampling for molds. Allergies seem to the type of diseases most often associated with molds. Since the reaction of individuals can vary greatly either because of the person’s susceptibility or type and amount of mold present, sampling and culturing are not reliable in determining your health risk. If you are susceptible to mold and mold is seen or smelled, there is a potential health risk, so no matter what type of mold is present, you should arrange for its removal. Keep in mind that reliable sampling for mold can be expensive, and standards for judging what is and what is not an acceptable or tolerable quantity of mold have not been established.”
So, don’t let mold be a problem for you. Make sure that you correct the underlying cause behind the moisture problem and clean or replace mold-infested materials. This often requires the services of mold remediation contractors, who can safely and effectively deal with the problem.
For more information on mold, please visit the CROETweb mold topic.
Submitted by Dr. Fred Berman, Toxicologist, Toxicology Information Center Director.