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Health Risks and Dangers of Black Mold

Author:   Peter Sedesse MD

Causes of Black Mold Infestations

A vast amount of health and medical issues are associated with black mold, especially in those with compromised immune systems, children or the elderly. Black mold is a fungus that can grow anywhere that is damp and dark. Spores are cast off by the black mold that can be accidentally eaten, absorbed into the skin or inhaled. Black mold is frequently seen following flooding, or in basements that are below the water level of the surrounding land.  Houses that have been flooded are frequently condemned and made unlivable by the government until major black mold infestations are removed..

Pneumonia as a result of Black Mold

Pneumonia resulting from the buildup of fluid in the lungs is generally a major health danger of black mold. The small sacs or alveoli in the lungs fill with fluids, typically they fill with puss when the mold infection occurs. The body mounts an immune response that includes using water to dilute the black mold spores in the lungs.  The alveoli fill with puss which leads to pneumonia.  Pneumonia caused by black mold is the most dangerous health risk.

Black Mold and upper respiratory infections

Infections of the upper respiratory tract are another rather common health problem that black mold is associated with. There is an immune response in the sinus cavities and nose since the structure of black mold allows it to stick to the mucus membranes. Cold symptoms are mimicked during this time but progressively worsen unless the individual leaves the mold-infested environment. The upper Respiratory Infection symptoms of cough and runny nose will be present as the symptoms progress into nausea, headaches and dehydration.

Black mold has been shown to be an extreme danger to babies and results in a condition known as Infant Pulmonary Hemorrhaging. Ulcers develop in the lungs because of the black mold spores which results in bleeding into the lungs. This results in symptoms resembling pneumonia and can eventually  be fatal to the child.

Prevention of Black Mold health problems

Ensuring the workspace and home are free from the environment black mold needs to breed easily prevents health problems associated with the fungus. The basement should be dry and well ventilated. Placing a dehumidifier in the basement to ensure that there is no excess groundwater feeding the mold may be necessary. Carpeting and rugs should be completely dry before putting them back in the house after normal washing, flood or water accidents. It is best to use floor coverings that do not absorb moisture instead of installing carpet in places that remain damp for long periods of time. 

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