Human exposure to elevated levels of airborne spores or hyphal fragments can result in a variety of adverse health effects. Mould can access our body through contact skin/eyes, ingestion and inhalation – for severe cases, full personal protective equipment (PPE) is required for inspection and during mould remediation
Mould health effects/risks due to excessive exposure can be grouped into three categories:
Skin, eyes and mucous membranes are often sensitive to fungal allergens resulting in itchiness, inflammation (reddening) when they reach the respiratory tract and lungs can generate an allergic response like hay fever, asthma and other allergies. In some studies, as much as 15% of the general population have been measured to be allergic to mould (fungi). Allergic symptoms include; runny nose, eye irritation, cough, congestion and aggravation of asthma. Asthma symptoms include difficulty breathing, wheezing, shortness of breath, coughing, constriction or inflammation of air passages.
Mycotoxins cause a wide range of chronic systemic effects in humans and may result in toxic responses from many individuals. Exposure to mycotoxins indoors is thought to be through inhalation of spores containing the toxins but other mechanisms may be involved. These toxins attack lung and other tissues - one type of mycotoxin (aflatoxin) has been shown to be carcinogenic and has been implicated in liver cancer. Mycotoxins symptoms include fatigue, nausea, headaches, respiratory irritation, eye irritation, discomfort/depression, dermatitis and inability to concentrate.
There are as many as 400 identified mycotoxins and it seems that with further research, the negative effects of mould on our health may become far better understood.
Fortunately fungal pathogens are rarely present in indoor air. These fungi can cause infection through wounds or when airborne spores enter the lungs.
To complicate matters further, a mould outbreak resulting from intrusion of water which has not been professionally treated and dried may include additional health risks like:
- Viruses – self explanatory.
- Bacteria – legionilla, salmonella (typhoid), pseudomonas (gastroenteritis).
- Parasites – consist of many groups like tapeworms, roundworms and amebiosis.
- Mould (fungi) – which include allergens, pathogens and toxins as explained above.
This is why restoration of any water damage is very important which should be performed by a professional company like Moisture Control Services.