In recent years, there has been a big push toward healthier living. More people are exercising, more people are eating organic, and others are using technology to tailor their health plans. And that’s all great stuff, but let’s not get too distracted by how many steps and lose track of the basics, especially when it comes to things like mold. Mold exposure is one of the more common environmental challenges we face, and according to the CDC, can have real health effects.
In 2004, the Institute of Medicine released a report linking mold exposure to asthma-like symptoms, like coughing, wheezing, and other upper respiratory symptoms in otherwise healthy people. That includes both adults and children. In 2009, the World Health Organization reaffirmed the findings and said that children who are genetically susceptible to developing asthma actually have a higher chance of developing the condition if they were exposed to mold at an early age.
To put that in perspective, the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America says that asthma is responsible for 1.8 million emergency visits each year, and in 2015, 3,615 deaths. Shark attacks, on the other hand, are responsible for about one death every year. And in 2017, plane crashes took 88 people, meanwhile, lightning took 16 people.
So what exactly can you do to limit mold exposure? The biggest culprit is moisture, and to limit that, you’ll need to ensure that your plumbing and HVAC systems are up to par. The CDC states that mold grows well on paper products, cardboard, ceiling tiles, wood, wallpaper, insulation, drywall, carpet, and more, so if you have a small plumbing leak or notice that your indoor air quality is lacking, you should call a professional.
If you do find mold, you should remove it immediately. If you choose to use bleach, don’t mix it with cleaners containing ammonia to avoid producing toxic gasses. For spaces containing more than 10 square feet of mold, see the EPA’s guidelines for mold remediation in schools and commercial buildings. And remember, no amount of mold is safe.