Risk of Mold-Related Infection
- Mold is a fungus which reproduces by emitting tiny spores into the air; about 5 percent of the population experience allergic reactions to mold. The presence of spores within the home or workplace, and particularly outdoors, is something that cannot be completely eliminated, with the exception of specialized hospital precautions like isolation. Mycotoxins are the pathogenic substances produced by harmful molds; however, molds can only produce these toxins under ideal growing conditions not concurrent with normal home or workplace environments.
The greatest health risk is for people with compromised immunity, such as the very young, very old, those with preexisting illness or persons with immunodeficiency disorders. Even in these populations, the risk is minimal. Those with severely impaired immune responses are at significant risk.
Allergies and Respiratory Disease
- The majority of mold-related illness is in the form of allergic reactions resulting in asthma, allergen-triggered constriction of the airways, and rhinitis, inflammation of the nasal cavities. Sinusitis may also occur due to the excessive irritation caused by the aforementioned conditions, though it is referred to as a secondary symptom. Mold growing in damp, indoor environments has shown a statistically significant relationship with the increase of respiratory infection and bronchitis.
- Mold spores are present in all indoor and outdoor environments with limited exception. There is a direct relationship to the moisture of the environments and increased growth of mold. Mold that is allowed to grow unregulated posed a larger threat to human health, as well as mold that grows in outdoor environments.
Precautions and Testing
- To decrease your exposure to mold and associated risk, monitor the dampness of your living environment. Find the source of excessive moisture within your home or workplace and eliminate it. If mold contact is a work-related risk for you, follow your employer's precautions and use or request appropriate protective garments.
To determine your allergic response to mold, most clinics and hospitals provide allergy testing procedures. The test consists of penetrating the skin slightly with a sharp needle or likely agent which has been contaminated with a small amount of the allergen. The doctor will evaluate the test response and determine your allergic risks.