If mold growth occurs in an indoor environment, the occupants could start to report odors and health problems such as headaches, breathing difficulties, skin irritation, allergic reactions and aggravation of asthma symptoms. While it can never be proven, these symptoms could be associated with mold exposure.
While there is a misconception that only certain types of molds are bad (for instance, some have heard that only "black mold" is dangerous), all molds could potentially cause health issues. They produce allergens, irritants and toxins that some humans may react to. There are many variables that affect the type and severity of symptoms including type of mold, extent of the exposure, a person's age and their existing allergies and sensitivities.
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms and cannot explain why, ask yourself if a recent construction job or renovation took place that corresponded with the start of the symptoms. Also try to note if you typically feel a relief of the symptoms if when you leave the home for periods of time, especially traveling to different climates.
If a person is sensitive to a certain type of mold, they may experience immediate or delayed allergic reactions if they inhale or touch them. This is a common occurrence that include fever-type symptoms such as sneezing, runny nose, red eyes and skin rash (dermatitis). It does not matter whether the mold is dead or alive. Repeated exposure can potentially cause individuals that were not previously sensitive to become sensitive or increase already existing sensitivity.
Asthma attacks can be set off by molds in those with allergies and/or sensitivities. Molds can also worsen asthma in non-allergic people.
Irritation of the eyes, skin, nose throat and lungs can be cause by exposure to mold. Burning sensations can also occur.
Mold can produce toxic substances known as mycotoxins. These can be found on the surface of spores in some molds and within the spore in other molds. Over 200 mold mycotoxins and counting have been identified. Some mycotoxins are known to be responsible for human health issues but much more research is needed in this area. Health affects that have been attributed to inhalation of mycotoxins are mucous membrane irritation, skin rash, nausea, immune system suppression, acute or chronic liver damage, acute or chronic central nervous system damage, endocrine effects and cancer. It is important to note that the presence of mold does not automatically indicate the presence of mycotoxins.