Did you know that young children are more susceptible to a mold illness?
Dr. Mold says, ask yourself these questions:
- Does your child go to school healthy and then come home sick in the afternoon?
- Does your child complain about continual sore throat?
- Do your children have cold or flu-like symptoms, or new or worsening asthma or allergies that seemed to linger on?
- Does your child come home claiming the school smells funny like, earthy or musty
Mold at your child’s school may be a problem.
School administrators aren’t always aware of mold situations. Ask your school administration to have the air tested by a certified mold inspector.
WHAT IS MOLD?
According the Center for Disease Control, Mold has been living among us since the dawn of time. More than 1000 species have been found in homes in the United States. This group of fungi spreads via lightweight spores that travel long distances through the air, entering the indoor environment from outside. Mold spores can survive for long periods of time until conditions become conducive to their development. Warmth, dampness and a food source are all that is needed for mold to grow.
WHEN, WHERE & WHY?
Mold becomes a health risk when it grows out of control in the indoor environment. Mold will grow when provided with both food and moisture, and will generally flourish in warm, damp and humid conditions. Mold will even grow in a cold environment. Although at a slower rate, maybe you’ve seen mold growing on forgotten cheese in your refrigerator. Mold grows on that old loaf of bread, as well is under your kitchen sink. High growth generally occurs in places that have been damaged by flooding or water leakage, and may occur throughout a building when indoor humidity levels are chronically high. Schools are not immune from the effects of mold. Mold spores could be in the ventilation system that pumps air to your child’s class room.
WHY IS MOLD A PROBLEM?
Almost every species of mold has the ability to affect human health. The most common health effects of mold are respiratory problems, allergic reactions or cold and flu-like symptoms caused by the presence of spores and desiccated mold floating in the air. A more serious but less common concern is the effect of species of mold that produce chemical compounds that can be toxic to humans, including mycotoxins.
The seriousness of mold, and legalities
The big-money mold award came from a landmark 1999 Texas lawsuit in which homeowner Melinda Ballard sued her insurer for $100 million after her family allegedly got sick from mold contamination. The New York Times Magazine ran photos of workers in hazard suits combing through her mold-infested Texas mansion. In June 2001, a jury awarded Ballard $32 million, including $12 million in punitive damages, $5 million for mental anguish, and nearly $9 million for attorney fees.
Within months, mold lawsuits proliferated, fed by an uncritical media. Television personality Ed McMahon sued for $20 million, claiming fungus in his home killed his dog; his case ultimately settled for $7 million. Activist Erin Brockovich went to court over mold in the $6 million home she bought with proceeds from her hit movie.
Molds have the greatest impact on individuals who already have compromised immune systems or have pre-existing respiratory illnesses. Infants, young children, the elderly and pregnant women have increased risk of experiencing problems associated with mold. Living around mold for an extended period of time may cause increased sensitivity to develop.
Some species of mold have the capacity to produce toxic chemical compounds, including mycotoxins and antibiotics. The most well-known of these “toxic mold” species is Stachybotrys chartarum, also known as “black mold,” a greenish-black mold that often grows around places with heavy water damage and requires high levels of plant materials and low levels of nitrogen. Common locations for black mold include ceiling tiles, wood, and drywall. Other commonly occurring toxic species are Aspergillus and Penicillium
Exposure to toxic molds is associated with diverse symptoms, including fatigue, lack of concentration, nausea, headaches and respiratory and eye irritation. More severe illnesses including Organic Dust Toxic Syndrome (abrupt onset of fever, flu-like symptoms, and respiratory symptoms) and pulmonary hemosiderosis (bleeding of the lungs) may result from a single, heavy exposure to dust containing toxic mold spores or particles.
IMPACT ON CHILDREN
Children have high vulnerability to immunological effects of mold exposure such as respiratory irritation and allergic reactions to mold. Because their lungs and other organs are still developing, they have less ability to identify hazards and are more susceptible to the effects of particulates in the air. Those most at risk are children with mold allergies or pre-existing respiratory problems.
Exposure to toxic molds is also more dangerous for children than adults. Because biological systems are still developing during infancy and childhood, toxic exposures have the capacity to intervene in the process of development and leave lasting impacts.
It is important to bear in mind that all molds – not only toxic molds – are dangerous and negatively impact our children’s health and their ability to learn. It is very important that you be concerned about the air that your child breathes. Your child spends a good portion of their day in the schoolroom. Is that air fresh and safe? Speak to your school board or school administrator about having your child’s school tested by a professional Mold Inspector.
Dr. Mold has the equipment and experience to quickly take air samples, swab or tape tests and analyze them to determine the severity, type, and amount of mold spores.