Protect Your Home and Family From Dangerous Mold and Mildew
You can run but you can't hide
Courtesy of ThisOldHouse.com
With more than 100,000 species worldwide, roughly a thousand of which are native to the United States, molds are literally everywhere on the planet, including Antarctica. In nature, these fungi serve as a catalyst—speeding decomposition and ridding the planet of megatons of dead plant matter. And some varieties even have a time-honored place within our homes. After all, you owe the penicillin in your medicine cabinet to a mold called Penicillium chrysogenum, part of the same genus as Penicillium roqueforti, the mold you can thank for that delightful Roquefort cheese stinking up your fridge.
When it rains...
Public health crisis
Molds reproduce by releasing spores that can provoke allergic reactions ranging from the mild (itchy eyes, runny nose, head congestion, coughing) to the more severe (skin rashes and worsened asthma). "We have a prevalence of asthma, specifically in children, of about 15%. That's a very high rate," Dr. Stephens says. "Anything that can trigger airway obstruction and an asthma attack is problematic."
A different black plague
Besides, even people who aren't allergic can be adversely affected. "That musty, moldy odor comes from volatile organic compounds, which are mainly alcohols and ketones," says Dr. Chew. "Inhaling alcohol for a long time, in sufficient quantity, can result in headaches, watery eyes, mucous membrane irritationand that can affect anyone."
Next: View slides 9–18 at ThisOldHouse.com