Asthma and Allergen Reduction through Mold Remediation
Can mold cause asthma and allergy problems?
Do you or a family member have asthma, or perhaps reoccuring respiratory health issues? Did you know that buildings with excess moisture and mold growth are scientifically associated with adverse and chronic health problems? Many of our customers find us only after visiting doctor after doctor looking for relief. What if your house or office is what is making you sick?
The short version:
Yes, mold can cause people with asthma and allergies to be sick. Mold releases spores and MVOC’s (microbial volatile organic compounds) which can cause illness even in people who are not astmathic or allergic. So, yes. Mold can make you very sick whether you have allergies and asthma or if you are a relatively healthy person. Read on to find out more about how mold makes people sick and what to do about it!
Now for the more technical, scientific answer:
In this article, we will explore the scientific evidence for the association between mold and asthma. We will also give you some strategies to help you maintain your home and prevent mold growth.
Asthma, Allergy and the Mold-Moisture Connection
Asthma is a “respiratory condition marked by spasms in the bronchi of the lungs, causing difficulty in breathing. It usually results from an allergic reaction or other forms of hypersensitivity.” People who have allergies can experience asthma, sneezing, stuffy nose, cough, itchy eyes, nose and throat, watery eyes, and dry scaly skin.
Allergies are caused by a hypersensitive immune system that reacts to the presence of an allergen as though it were a disease. People can be allergic to many, many different things including molds.
The Asthma and Mold Connection
Many studies have been done on the association between excess building moisture, mold, and respiratory health effects including asthma, respiratory symptoms, and respiratory infections. (World Health Organization (WHO) Guidelines for Indoor Air Quality – Dampness and Mould, 2009)
Kercsmar, CM, et. al. (2006), studied the effects of asthma symptom reduction in children when homes were remediated through “household repairs, including reduction of water infiltration, removal of water-damaged building materials, and heating/ventilation/air-conditioning alterations.”
To summarize, both control and experimental groups received information on household cleaning and asthma intervention strategies. The experimental group also received the home repairs. The control group did not.
Both groups were evaluated several times during the 12 month study. The experimental group had a significant decrease in acute care (emergency or urgent care) visits compared to the control group. The experimental group also had significantly reduced symptom days (as reported by parents) compared to the control group. This one study shows significant improvement in asthma patients through home remediation.
According to the WHO Guidelines for Indoor Air Quality – Dampness and Mould Report (2009), “Sufficient evidence is available from studies conducted in different countries and under different climatic conditions to show that the occupants of damp or mouldy buildings, both houses and public buildings, are at increased risk of respiratory symptoms, respiratory infections and exacerbation of asthma.”
All of the studies reviewed in the WHO report, found that there was significant evidence of an association between indoor dampness related agents (in home excess moisture, mildew, and mold growth) and all of the following health conditions:
- asthma exacerbation
- upper respiratory tract symptoms
- coughing and wheezing
The WHO report also found evidence that exposure to mold and other dampness related microbial agents increased the risk of rare health conditions including:
- “hypersensitivity pneumonitis (a rare condition that causes inflammation of the alveoli (airspaces) within the lung caused by hypersensitivity to inhaled organic dusts)
- allergic alveolitis (a group of lung diseases in which your lungs become inflamed as an allergic reaction resulting from exposure to dusts of animal and vegetable origin)
- chronic rhinosinusitis (presence of at least two out of four cardinal symptoms, i.e., facial pain/pressure, hyposmia/anosmia, nasal drainage, and nasal obstruction for at least 12 consecutive weeks, in addition to objective evidence)
- allergic fungal sinusitis (fungal sinus infection).”
The WHO report (2009) recommends that buildings be well maintained and moisture damage prevented. If moisture and mold are present in a building they should be removed and the building remediated. In other words, if you have mold growing in your building, and have asthma or allergies, you have a problem! You may need a professional inspection and home remediation to improve your health.
How and Why do Molds Grow?
Molds need four things to grow: oxygen, moisture, a food source, and warmth. Molds are fungi which are unique organisms. Fungi grow from microscopic spores that are everywhere in the air. Molds are found everywhere in nature, and are important for recycling organic matter (such as leaves). The recycling process they perform returns nutrients to the soil and is important for plants to grow.
However, when molds grow in your home, they can cause significant damage to the structure and can make you sick. Regardless of whether or not you are allergic to molds, molds can make you sick because of the chemical compounds they produce. Fungi are unique in that they digest their food outside their bodies before ingesting the nutrients. Partially because of the exterior digestion, molds can cause significant health problems from both mycotoxins and MVOC’s.
How do I maintain my home to prevent mold growth?
Basic home maintenance and inspection are key to preventing mold growth. Remember, fungi need four things to grow: oxygen, moisture, a food source, and warmth. It is difficult to significantly change the temperature or remove oxygen from a room. Not to mention, that fungi can digest almost any organic material (anything made of carbon). The best way to stop mold growth is to prevent moisture buildup.
Home owners can prevent moisture buildup by ventilating areas in the home that have high moisture content including bathrooms, kitchens, laundry rooms, and crawl spaces.
- Bathroom ventilation fans should be used for every shower or bath. If possible, keep the door of the bathroom open when bathing to further ventilate the room.
- In the kitchen, it is best to have a ventilation hood over the stove that vents to the outside. Use the ventilation fan every time you cook.
- Laundry rooms are almost always moist because of the nature of washing clothes. If possible, leave laundry room doors open to ventilate the room. Keep washer and dryer doors open to help them stay dry.
- Follow a cleaning routine to keep your home free from mold. Check out our ‘Winter Guide to Spring Cleaning’ for more details on how to keep your home truly clean and well maintained.
- Crawl spaces and basements can be full of moisture. Inspect your crawl space at least every 6 months for moisture buildup and mold. If you can smell a musty smell, or see mold growth, it may be time for a professional inspection and repairs.
When To Clean. When To Call.
Indoor mold growth can be prevented by simply controlling moisture and controlling humidity indoors.
You may be able to clean surface mold on the walls, ceilings or floors of your home that are less than ten square feet by using gentle detergents, vinegar, and water. For more information about cleaning mold yourself go to: https://branchenvironmental.com/a-simple-guide-to-cleaning-mold/
If you see areas larger than ten square feet, or there is a musty smell you can’t identify, it may be time to call a professional.
We’re Here When You Need Us.
Call Branch Environmental. We’re experts not only at mold removal, but at determining and remediating the underlying causes. From hidden mold sources to major contaminants. We can identify exactly what is going on in your home and rid it of environmental toxins, often for good.
For more information go to:
- WHO Guidelines for Indoor Air Quality – Dampness and Mould (2009) https://www.who.int/airpollution/guidelines/dampness-mould/en/
- Krieger, et. al. (2014) Housing Interventions and Control of Asthma-Related Indoor Biologic Agents: A Review of the Evidence https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3934496/
- Kercsmar CM et al. (2006). Reduction in asthma morbidity in children as a result of home remediation aimed at moisture sources. Environmental Health Perspectives, 114:1574–1580. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17035145
- Caillaud, D., et. al. (2018) Indoor mould exposure, asthma and rhinitis: findings from systematic reviews and recent longitudinal studies https://err.ersjournals.com/content/27/148/170137
Blog information is not intended to replace or provide medical advice. NO information on this site should be used to diagnose, treat, prevent or cure any disease or condition.