There is always some mold everywhere – in the air and on many surfaces. Molds have been on the Earth for millions of years. Mold grows where there is moisture.
Exposure to damp and moldy environments may cause a variety of health effects, or none at all. Some people are sensitive to molds. For these people, molds can cause nasal stuffiness, throat irritation, coughing or wheezing, eye irritation, or, in some cases, skin irritation. People with mold allergies may have more severe reactions. Immune-compromised people and people with chronic lung illnesses, such as obstructive lung disease, may get serious infections in their lungs when they are exposed to mold. These people should stay away from areas that are likely to have mold, such as compost piles, cut grass, and wooded areas.
In 2004 the Institute of Medicine (IOM) found there was sufficient evidence to link indoor exposure to mold with upper respiratory tract symptoms, cough, and wheeze in otherwise healthy people; with asthma symptoms in people with asthma; and with hypersensitivity pneumonitis in individuals susceptible to that immune-mediated condition. The IOM also found limited or suggestive evidence linking indoor mold exposure and respiratory illness in otherwise healthy children.
In addition, in 2004 the IOM found sufficient evidence to link exposure to damp indoor environments in general to upper respiratory tract symptoms, cough, and wheeze in otherwise healthy people and with asthma symptoms in people with asthma. The IOM also found limited or suggestive evidence linking exposure to damp indoor environments in general to shortness of breath, to respiratory illness in otherwise healthy children and to potential development of asthma in susceptible individuals. In 2009, the World Health Organization issued additional guidance, the WHO Guidelines for Indoor Air Quality: Dampness and Mould[PDF – 2.65 MB]. Other recent studies have suggested a potential link of early mold exposure to development of asthma in some children, particularly among children who may be genetically susceptible to asthma development, and that selected interventions that improve housing conditions can reduce morbidity from asthma and respiratory allergies, but more research is needed in this regard.
A link between other adverse health effects, such as acute idiopathic pulmonary hemorrhage among infants, memory loss, or lethargy, and molds, including the mold Stachybotrys chartarum (Stachybotrys atra), has not been proven. Further studies are needed to find out what causes acute idiopathic hemorrhage and other adverse health effects.
Mold is found both indoors and outdoors. Mold can enter your home through open doorways, windows, vents, and heating and air conditioning systems. Mold in the air outside can also attach itself to clothing, shoes, bags, and pets can and be carried indoors.
Mold will grow in places with a lot of moisture, such as around leaks in roofs, windows, or pipes, or where there has been flooding. Mold grows well on paper products, cardboard, ceiling tiles, and wood products. Mold can also grow in dust, paints, wallpaper, insulation, drywall, carpet, fabric, and upholstery.
Inside your home you can control mold growth by:
If mold is growing in your home, you need to clean up the mold and fix the moisture problem. Mold growth can be removed from hard surfaces with commercial products.
Mold growth, which often looks like spots, can be many different colors, and can smell musty. If you can see or smell mold, a health risk may be present. You do not need to know the type of mold growing in your home, and CDC does not recommend or perform routine sampling for molds. No matter what type of mold is present, you should remove it. Since the effect of mold on people can vary greatly, either because of the amount or type of mold, you can not rely on sampling and culturing to know your health risk. Also, good sampling for mold can be expensive, and standards for judging what is and what is not an acceptable quantity of mold have not been set. The best practice is to remove the mold and work to prevent future growth.
Although dust mites are tiny creatures, they can cause big trouble for people who suffer from asthma and allergic reactions. These microscopic bugs share living quarters with humans and animals, feeding on the invisible flakes of dead skin that are shed every day. If a dust mite infestation is not treated properly, it can lead to wheezing, asthma attacks, and other health problems.
This quick guide can help you learn more about the health dangers of dust mites and how you can avoid the ill effects that sometimes come along with them.
In almost every place where humans live and work, you can also find a few dust mites lurking around. You won’t see them, but they’re undoubtedly there. They are tiny bugs, barely a hundredth of an inch in length, looking like tiny specks of dust to the unaided eye. After they feed on small pieces of organic matter, like tiny flakes of dead skin, they produce microscopic particles of waste that can cause severe allergic reactions in sensitive people.
During a life cycle of just a few weeks, each dust mite can produce up to two thousand of these particles. When you combine this with the excellent reproductive capacity of dust mites, you have a recipe for allergies and breathing difficulties. This is precisely why dust mites can be so dangerous to one’s health.
The waste produced by mites contains a variety of allergens that can trigger sneezing, wheezing, inflamed skin, runny nose, red eyes, and itchiness. If your immune system is sensitive to these allergens, it “misreads” them as disease-causing germs and starts producing antibodies to fight them off.
The resulting chemical reaction causes the various sorts of discomfort associated with dust mite allergies. For people who already suffer from asthma or other respiratory problems, the health risks can be considerably worse.
Dust mites can be rather difficult to eradicate completely. However, there are many ways to keep them under control in your home. Mattresses and bedding materials are the most popular places for dust mites to congregate. Studies of home mattresses have shown that each gram of dust in them can contain more than 2,500 mites!
Although vacuuming is a good way to keep your bedroom looking neat and tidy, it only encourages the dust mites by launching them into the air, giving them even more room to spread out and reproduce. Pesticides, such as disodium tetrahydrate, can be used in powder form to kill-off dust mites, although we would only recommend using these as a last-ditch effort, as the possible side effects associated with pesticides may be rather uncomfortable for you and your family.
You can make a variety of smart choices to help keep dust mites away from you and your family. These are some steps you might want to consider taking if you suffer from dust mite-related health problems:
There" target="_blank">https://1xmmzh397wwl19zunv1as9uy-wpengine.netdna-ssl.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/dust_mite.jpg"/>There is one thing that is absolutely proven to kill dust mites and their eggs. This secret weapon is your household clothes dryer at its highest setting.
When you invest in fully washable bedding and clothing, you reduce the chances of dust mite infestation. Dryer temperatures of 200°F or higher will annihilate dust mites in a matter of minutes. A related strategy to discourage dust mites is keeping the humidity of your home below 50% whenever possible. Dehumidifiers are very helpful in many home situations. Remember that mites love warm, moist air, but they hate hot, dry air.
If you’re still suffering from breathing difficulties or allergic reactions, there are steps you can take to make yourself more comfortable. A personal air purifier can be placed by your bed or desk, creating a friendly microclimate free of dust mite allergens. Some people find a program of gradual desensitization to be useful in cutting down allergy symptoms. Other people use antihistamines or steroids to manage their reactions. You can consult with your doctor for more information on these various alternatives.
Keep in mind: Dust mites are an unpleasant, but an all too common part of human civilization. Although it is hard to wipe them out entirely, there are many resources available to fight them. With a little planning and strategy, you can avoid much of the discomfort caused by mite infestations, as well as the potentially dangerous health complications that sometimes come along with them.