Here at First Call Restoration, Inc. in the Kansas City area, people question us on many occasions about mold with the number one question being, can mold make me sick. The most vulnerable people for mold affecting their health are people who have allergies, asthma, anyone who is immune suppressed and the very old and young. People with allergies can suffer greatly, with itchy watering eyes, sinuses problems, rashes and it can even trigger asthma attacks, which can be dangerous, even leading to death.
Whether or not you’re allergic to molds, mold exposure can still irritate your eyes, skin, nose, throat, and lungs. Physicians report anytime you have a continued irritation, especially, in the throat and lung area can also setup an infection due to soft-tissue irritation.
When the general public thinks of mold in their homes they think about “Black Mold,” which is Stachybotrys chartarum or “Stachy” for short. In my view the public has an unhealthy fear of Black-mold bought about by television news reports and shows like Dateline and 20/20, who misrepresented the effects of “Black-mold.” Much of what they reported has never been proven to be true and it takes away the concern about other molds much more dangerous than Stachy.
If I don’t have to be so concerned with Stachy, then what mold should I be concerned with? The most prevenient mold is Aspergillus mold. It is found almost year around both inside and outside the structure. Of course, we’re only concerned with interior exposure when we find an active growth inside the structure. Prolonged exposure to aspergillus can cause aspergillosis, which is mold growing inside the lung area. Because aspergillosis is not a reportable infection in the United States, the exact number of cases is difficult to determine. Milder, allergic forms of aspergillosis are more common than the invasive form of the infection. The CDC determines based on a few studies that the more invasive type is 1 to 2/100,000 in population, which translates to 3,000 to just over 6,000 cases per year.
There is yet another mold that we should be concerned with but not overly so. That is Histoplasma, which causes Histoplasmosis. There is both pulmonary histoplasmosis (Histoplasma growing in the lung) and Ocular histoplasmosis (which is Histoplasma growing behind the eyeball). The fungus lives in the environment, particularly in soil that contains large amounts of bird or bat droppings. In the United States, Histoplasma mainly lives in the central and eastern states, especially areas around the Ohio and Mississippi River valleys. The fungus also lives in parts of Central and South America, Africa, Asia, and Australia. Area where large flocks of pigeons gather and nest are of particular concern. The mold grows on the bird dung and then when it is disturbed by the bird activity, it is picked up by the wind and then intermingles with the unknowing public. Our main concern as people with this knowledge are that these large flock areas are not being addressed with remediation processes and exclusion barriers being place to prevent further contamination. People can get histoplasmosis after breathing in the microscopic fungal spores from the air or the spores landing in the eye working their way behind the orbit.
One another concern with this mold and that is with people who have pet birds but do not routinely clean the aviary. I personally know of two pulmonary cases where one client passed-away from her infection and another is awaiting a lung transplant.
Mold growing within the work and living environments should be taken seriously. If you believe you have mold contamination in the Kansas City area, please call, First Call Restoration, Inc. a 816-804-0154 • 913-909-0412 we can help with setting up a mold test and mold remediation if necessary.
By Don M. McNulty, MBT AT- OSHA, MTC ©COPYRIGHT 2018