This week marks one year since Hurricane Harvey devastated Houston, flooding homes and drowning out entire neighborhoods. The area is still recovering from the extensive damage. Thank you to The Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund and all organizations and people who supported the restoration efforts. Check out some of our articles with information about Harvey and hurricane preparedness.
Mold spores are abundant both in the comfortable indoors and the great outdoors. People who suffer from a mold allergy will experience allergic symptoms when in the presence of mold. Given that mold is pervasive, sufferers are likely to cough, wheeze and sneeze any season of the year.
Airborne mold spores infiltrate the environment. Mold may be found in dark, damp corners of the basement, under the kitchen sink or along the bathroom shower tiles. Outside, people are exposed to mold spores when they approach an uncut field of grass or rake leaves in the backyard.
Escaping the miniscule particles of mold is hardly an option. Almost none of the over 1,000 species of mold in the United States are visible to the naked eye, making avoiding mold in the environment even more difficult. Mold allergies, however, can be managed by numerous practical means.
What causes a mold allergy?
While everyone breathes in airborne mold spores, only a few people will experience allergies. The immune systems of people allergic to mold are highly sensitive and respond to spores with an allergic reaction. Plus, among the innumerable mold species, only some cause allergic reactions.
The most common mold species that produce allergic reactions in susceptible individuals include Alternaria, Aspergillus, Cladosporium and Penicillium. Any of these four mold species can be found throughout the environment, with some species growing more frequently indoors rather than outdoors.
Alternaria is often found in spoiled plant-based foods as well as plants. Aspergillus strains are mostly harmless; however, upon inhaling the spores, people with weakened immune systems or asthma may suffer serious illness. Cladosporium and Penicillium molds often latch onto indoor surfaces.
What are symptoms of a mold allergy?
People who are susceptible to mold allergies will have an adverse reaction upon inhaling mold spores. Mold allergy symptoms manifest most profusely during the months of July through early autumn. Symptoms may be seasonal (summer and fall) or year-round (if the mold infestation is indoors).
People with asthma may develop a condition known as allergic bronchopulmonary aspergillosis upon inhaling aspergillus mold spores. Symptoms of the allergic reaction include fever and a worsening of the asthma. People with existing lung problems are also likely to develop an allergic reaction.
In those with healthy immune systems, the immune system cells attack the aspergillus spores and destroy them. In contrast, those with weakened immune systems have fewer infection-fighting cells, which allows the aspergillus spores to invade the lungs and cause an allergic reaction.
Exposure to Cladosporium mold in people with mold allergies results in dry skin, sneezing, stuffy nose, watery eyes, postnasal drip and coughing. Sufferers are likely to experience itchy throat, eyes and nose. Severe reactions may cause a serious asthma attack or allergic fungal sinusitis.
Penicillium and Alternaria mold also cause similar reactions in vulnerable individuals. The severity of symptoms may vary based on the nature of exposure. However, due to being omnipresent, indoor molds like these can spur a range of continual symptoms year-round.
How can mold allergies be prevented?
Allergy medications taken in advance of performing yard work, for instance, help to reduce foreseeable symptoms. Or, wear a dust mask if anticipating being around potential sources of mold spores. Upon concluding the yard work, rinse nasal passages with a saline solution and wash out spores in a shower.
When the mold count is high, reduce the time spent on outdoor activities. Engaging in outdoor activities when the mold count in the area is low decreases the amount of mold spores inhaled and reduces mold allergy symptoms. Sign up for mold count email alerts to stay updated.
Allergy sufferers may also play a role in their ongoing allergy management by pinpointing the source of mold. Over a two-week period, individuals may notate their locations and extent of symptoms while in these areas. Remember that mold is pervasive, and can be present at work, home or outdoors.
Practical solutions include adjustments at home. Lower the indoor humidity levels to below 60 percent to eliminate excess moisture and keep from nourishing moisture-loving mold spores. Run the exhaust fans in the bathroom and kitchen. Turn on the dehumidifier to reduce excess moisture.
Inspect the home for plumbing leaks; upon noticing water intrusions, repair the leaks quickly. Check the windows for condensation. Ventilate the home adequately. If mold appears on the walls, call a mold remediation professional .
When a mold outbreak at a home or business causes mold allergies, consult a professional mold remediation company, like ServiceMaster Restoration and Cleaning. As a state licensed enterprise, we are positioned to eliminate all traces of mold in accordance with established mold remediation standards.
ServiceMaster Restoration and Cleaning technicians are also IICRC certified. Our mold assessment consultant will arrive onsite to determine the extent of mold growth. Upon a full inspection and moisture assessment, our proven mold cleanup processes begin.
Our comprehensive services include the removal of moldy possessions, air quality control and cleaning, sanitization of the premises and the application of an anti-microbial solution. Skilled specialists also effectively contain the moldy area to prevent spores from contaminating other areas of the property.
Home and business owners who struggle with mold allergies are advised to consult ServiceMaster Restoration and Cleaning for our quality mold remediation services. With 24/7 availability in the community of Houston, Texas, our technicians will address your mold issue promptly and reliably.