Home Improvement

Dangers Of A Damp Home

Mold can cause a range of health issues, including respiratory infections, asthma, allergies, and others. It is common in homes and can quickly grow on numerous household materials, such as paint, wood, and carpet. Learn more about the causes and dangers of living in a damp home and what you can do to combat the issue.

What Is Mold?

Mold is a fungus that grows in warm, damp areas. It can take various forms and often looks like a stain, discoloration, or fuzzy growth. Mold can be any color, but it’s most commonly black, white or green. 

The fungus reproduces by making spores that spread through the air, whether indoors or out. It can grow on paper, wood, glass, fabric, paint, plastic, and countless other surfaces, making it difficult to control in some households. 

Causes of Mold in the Home

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 25% of homes in warm climates and 15% of homes in cool climates have signs of mold. 

Mold spores can enter a home through the air or by attaching to people or objects. The mold grows and spreads if it lands where it can thrive, such as in an area with prior leaks or flooding. It may also appear in spaces with poor air circulation or condensation buildup. 

The following are a few common causes of mold in the home:

  • Plumbing leaks
  • Roof or wall leaks
  • Condensation from windows
  • Condensation from showering, wet clothes, and cooking
  • Poor ventilation in cabinets and other enclosed spaces
  • Clogged gutters or downpipes

Mold and Your Health

Mold can cause numerous health problems and is especially dangerous for anyone with a weakened immune system, allergies, or respiratory issues. While some people are at higher risk of health problems due to mold, anyone can experience its effects.

Molds create irritants, allergens, and, at times, toxic substances. Touching or breathing in the mold spores can result in sneezing, wheezing, a stuffy nose, itchy eyes or skin rashes. People with asthma or certain allergies may experience more severe reactions. Workers commonly around mold may also have dangerous reactions, such as shortness of breath and fever. 

According to the Institute of Medicine (IOM), indoor mold exposure can be linked to wheezing, coughing and other upper respiratory tract symptoms. Their 2004 study also linked mold to hypersensitivity pneumonitis in individuals susceptible to the condition. It may also lead to asthmatic reactions in individuals with asthma. 

Additional studies showed a possible link between mold exposure early in life and the development of asthma in some children, especially those who were more likely to develop asthma due to genetics. 

Preventing Mold in Your Home

The best way to keep yourself and your family safe from the harmful effects of mold is to inspect your home and eliminate any conditions that may cause mold growth. This means promptly repairing leaky pipes, roofs or walls and thoroughly drying wet areas after flooding. Ventilate areas prone to moisture and keep humidity levels throughout the home at 30-50%. 

Environmental health and safety professionals, occupational hygienists, and experienced contractors can help locate mold in your home and create solutions to remove it permanently. Find out more about why a damp home can be dangerous in the accompanying resource. 

Infographic created by
Bartley Corp, a concrete foundation

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