Mold: Symptoms of Exposure, Risks and Related Infections

Mold and illness


Mold can cause health problems, especially for those with allergies or asthma. To avoid mold in your house, take action to eliminate it yourself or hire a professional if needed.

You’re likely to find mold growing in the darkest, dampest spaces. More than a cosmetic problem, mold can damage your home and contribute to health issues.

Let’s examine the types of mold you’re most likely to find in your home, the potential effects on your health, and how to get rid of mold.


What is Mold?


Mold is an organism that’s part of the fungi family. It grows indoors as well as outdoors.

Outside, molds are an important part of the ecosystem. They help break down plant and animal matter. When mold grows inside, it can sometimes be problematic. It can cause allergies and infections in some people.

Types of Mold Multiple types of mold can grow in the same area. You can’t always tell the difference between types of mold without testing. Fortunately, you don’t need to know the type of mold to get rid of it.


The most common indoor molds are:


Cladosporium: This mold is brown, green, or black. It grows in both warm and cool locations and is often found on wood, carpets, fabrics, and in heating and cooling ducts.

Penicillium: This fuzzy mold is blue, green, or yellow. It’s often found under carpets, in basements, and in insulation, especially after water damage.

Aspergillus: Aspergillus is green, white, or gray with dark spots and a powdery look. It thrives in fabrics, walls, attics, basements, and on dry food items.

Other molds that aren’t found indoors as often include Alternaria, Aureobasidium, Stachybotrys chartarum (black mold), and Trichoderma.

Symptoms of Mold Exposure Having mold in your home won’t necessarily make you sick, but it does have the potential to cause certain health issues.

Touching or inhaling mold spores can cause allergy-like symptoms such as a runny nose, congestion, eye irritation, sneezing, coughing, sore throat, skin rash, headache, lung irritation, and wheezing. Mold exposure is not an emergency for most people. However, individuals with underlying health conditions should let their doctor know if they have a health condition that puts them at greater risk of complications and they believe they’re experiencing symptoms of a mold-related infection.

Mold in House Mold can be black, white, spotted, or just about any color. It may appear powdery, cottony, or velvety.

If you notice a spot and aren’t sure if it’s just an old stain or a splotch of dirt, here’s how to tell if it could be a sign of a mold problem:

  • It has a musty, earthy smell.
  • There’s a nearby source of moisture, but not much light.
  • You see warping, cracking, or peeling of whatever material it’s growing on.
  • Unchecked mold will continue to grow. Dirt and old stains won’t.


How Common is Mold in Buildings?


Mold is very common in homes and buildings. One 2017 study found mold in every public building studied, with an average of about 14 instances of mold per building. Another 2012 review study involving 31 European countries found mold in 1 in 6 homes. The prevalence of mold may vary greatly depending on the regional climate.


How Does Mold Get Indoors?


Outdoor molds release tiny spores that float through the air. These spores can enter your home through doors, windows, heating and air conditioning vents, clothing, shoes, and pets. Once mold spores get inside, they can grow in spaces with moisture such as sinks, bathtubs, showers, leaky pipes, windows, basements, crawl spaces, and attics. Mold can latch onto a variety of materials, including fabrics, carpet, paper, wood, ceiling tiles, dust, paint, wallpaper, and insulation.


Mold-Related Infections and Complications


Most people may only experience an allergic reaction or allergy-like symptoms following mold exposure. However, certain individuals with specific risk factors may develop mold-related infections such as aspergillosis, histoplasmosis, sporotrichosis, or valley fever. People with asthma are at risk of asthma attacks triggered by mold exposure. Hypersensitivity pneumonitis, a serious reaction to excessive mold exposure, is more common in occupational settings.




While it is impossible to completely eliminate mold, there are preventive measures you can take to minimize its growth in your home. Fix water leaks promptly, repair or replace windows that leak or sweat, maintain humidity levels below 50% with dehumidifiers, keep your home well-ventilated, use mold inhibitors in wall paints, and practice good cleaning habits.

In conclusion


mold can pose health risks and damage your home. Recognizing the signs of mold, understanding its causes and associated symptoms, seeking appropriate treatment when necessary, and taking preventive measures are key to mitigating the impact of mold on your health and well-being.