How Mold & Mildew Affect Health?

Various types of mold and mildew can exist in the home and/or workplace. Some of these molds may be harmful to health, causing allergic reactions and breathing difficulties. Long-term exposure can cause ongoing health problems, such as respiratory or sinus infections.

  1. The Facts

    • According to the Environmental Protection Agency, "Molds can be found almost anywhere; they can grow on virtually any substance, providing moisture is present. There are molds that can grow on wood, paper, carpet, and foods."

      Nearly 100 types of molds have the potential to cause illness in humans and animals, according to the EPA.

      In low concentrations, molds are considered harmless to humans. However, if mold levels intensify, they can constitute health hazards. Those with allergies, asthma or other respiratory conditions are specifically at risk.

    Negative Effects

    • Coming in contact with mold spores can cause allergic reactions and breathing difficulties for people who have asthma.

      The EPA adds, "Allergic responses include hay fever-type symptoms, such as sneezing, runny nose, red eyes, and skin rash. They can be immediate or delayed. In addition, mold exposure can irritate the eyes, skin, nose, throat, and lungs of both mold-allergic and non-allergic people."

    Preventing Mold Growth

    • The culprit of mold growth is moisture within an indoor environment that goes unchecked, allowing mold growth to expand, which lowers the air quality. While it is impossible to completely remove all of the mold from an indoor environment, there are ways to reduce the amount of mold growing indoors.

      The EPA recommends monitoring sources of moisture and cleaning any problem areas immediately. "It is important to dry water-damaged areas and items within 24 to 48 hours to prevent mold growth. Fix the source of the water problem or leak to prevent mold growth."


    • Due to the various types of potentially harmful mold and its rapid growth rate, it is important to be cautious of mold growth in the home or workplace. Licensed mold inspectors can test for infestations.

      Individuals who suspect that their health is being compromised by exposure to mold are encouraged to contact their health provider immediately.


    • A common confusion, mildew is actually a synonym for mold.

      While mold and mildew are considered separate types of growth, they are actually the same. What most people call mildew tends to grow on damp fabric or in poorly ventilated showers. It also has the potential for harmful health effects.

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