Tuesday, January 27, 2009 by: Jo Hartley, citizen journalist
(NaturalNews) People who live in damp houses where water stains or mold is present may be more prone to asthma, colds, and other upper respiratory illnesses. Mold is a common allergen and is a known trigger for asthmatic attacks. It is not clear exactly how mold and dampness contribute to respiratory problems but in the face of these conclusions it is important to take steps to eliminate mold whenever possible.
Molds form when long chains of cells that create spores root themselves and begin rapidly reproducing. To illustrate how abundant mold is, one square foot of moldy drywall actually contains more than 300 million mold spores. Mold spores become airborne and waft through both indoor and outdoor air continually. Mold does not make its own carbohydrates the way green plants do. Mold has to consume food that contains carbon, nitrogen compounds, and other elements. Mold then releases enzymes to enable the digestion of cellulose, protein, and fats. Molds will grow and reproduce on almost any surface.
Visible mold in homes has been linked to almost a 50% increase in the probability that people will suffer at least four colds in one calendar year. Visible mold in homes also places people at higher risk for illnesses like bronchitis and pneumonia.
Studies have concluded that at the very minimum, mold in a home will at least maintain asthmatic symptoms, and is likely to increase people's chances of contracting colds and other upper respiratory illnesses.
It's important to note that mold is not the only factor contributing to people's overall health and immune system strength. Genetics and lifestyle choices are also important factors that influence how healthy people are. The amount of dampness in a home is more of a health factor for people who have family members with asthma or who have other allergy conditions.
Because colds and upper respiratory infections are caused by viruses, it is not completely clear how mold raises one's risk for contracting these viruses. It may possibly be the fact that mold creates inflammation in the upper respiratory tract and this inflammation makes people more likely to succumb to viruses.
It is impossible to eliminate and prevent mold completely. The goal must be to reduce the amount of colonizing (growing) mold and keep it at a minimum. The key to this is moisture control. Areas of a home that are prone to moisture must be kept as dry as possible.
How to Reduce Air Humidity and Prevent Condensation:
*Vent appliances that produce moisture (dryers and stoves)
*Use a bathroom fan
*Wipe down shower walls after bathing
*Run a space heater for a short time after bathing to reduce excess moisture
*Use dehumidifiers to reduce humidity
*Leave bathrooms and basements uncarpeted
*Be mindful that organic materials brought inside (plants, etc) can be mold magnets
*Insulate cold water pipes to reduce condensation