Recently, I’ve been finding that, although my allergies have diminished, they still seem to flare up acutely whenever I shower. Upon inspection of the surrounding walls of my shower, I did notice that there are spots of black mold, undoubtedly from all the moisture generated from my daily, morning grooming ritual. From all of the media hype concerning black mold, I became concerned, so I did some research. Not wanting to get my information from less than reputable sources, I decided to get it straight from the horse’s mouth and go to the Center for Disease Control’s website. The following quotes are taken directly from their website answering questions which I myself had concerning the health risks involved:
1) Are there any circumstances where people should vacate a home or other building because of mold?
You should make these decisions individually. If you believe you are ill because of exposure to mold in a building, you should consult your physician to determine the appropriate action to take.
2) What are the potential health effects of mold in buildings and homes?
Mold exposure does not always present a health problem indoors. However, some people are sensitive to molds. These people may experience symptoms such as nasal stuffiness, eye irritation, wheezing, or skin irritation when exposed to molds. Some people may have more severe reactions to molds. Severe reactions may occur among workers exposed to large amounts of molds in occupational settings, such as farmers working around moldy hay. Severe reactions may include fever and shortness of breath. Immunocompromised persons and persons with chronic lung diseases like COPD are at increased risk for opportunistic infections and may develop fungal infections in their lungs.
In 2004 the Institute of Medicine (IOM) found there was sufficient evidence to link indoor exposure to mold with upper respiratory tract symptoms, cough, and wheeze in otherwise healthy people; with asthma symptoms in people with asthma; and with hypersensitivity pneumonitis in individuals susceptible to that immune-mediated condition. The IOM also found limited or suggestive evidence linking indoor mold exposure and respiratory illness in otherwise healthy children.
3) How do you get the molds out of buildings, including homes, schools, and places of employment?
In most cases, mold can be removed from hard surfaces by a thorough cleaning with commercial products, soap, and water, or a bleach solution of no more than 1 cup of bleach in 1 gallon of water. Throw away absorbent or porous materials like ceiling tiles, drywall, and carpet if they become moldy. If you have an extensive amount of mold and you do not think you can manage the cleanup on your own, you may want to contact a professional who has experience in cleaning mold in buildings and homes. It is important to properly clean and dry the area as you can still have an allergic reaction to parts of the dead mold and mold contamination may recur if there is still a source of moisture.
If you choose to use bleach to clean up mold
- Never mix bleach with ammonia or other household cleaners. Mixing bleach with ammonia or other cleaning products will produce dangerous, toxic fumes.
- Open windows and doors to provide fresh air.
- Wear non-porous gloves and protective eyewear.
- Consult the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) guide titled Mold Remediation in Schools and Commercial Buildings if the area to be cleaned is more than 10 square feet. Although focused on schools and commercial buildings, this document also applies to other building types. You can get it by going to the EPA website at http://www.epa.gov/mold/mold_remediation.html.
- Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions when using bleach or any other cleaning product.
I take all of this information to mean that unless you are immune-compromised, elderly, or an infant, then it is likely that most strains of mold will not hurt you.
However, seeing as how it’s not very organic, I found an article with some less chemical alternatives on http://www.howtoremoveblackmold.com. In this article, it stated that “In order to effectively kill mold, you have to get to it at the root level. And, chlorinated bleach and ammonia are not up to the task.
There are many other mold cleaning agents that will kill these fungi effectively and at the root level.
Baking-soda and vinegar are excellent non-toxic alternatives to ammonia. And, they are not harsh on the environment or you.2” This is both a good way to go if you want to get a deeper clean and if you’re worried about the harshness of chemical reactions.
Because of all of these reasons, I take comfort in knowing that even if there is some mold enflaming my nasal passage, at least there is a simple, natural solution to fixing the problem.
1) “Facts about Stachybotrys Chartarum and Other Molds.” Www.cdc.gov. N.p., n.d. Web.
2) Sallinger, Wesley. “How to Kill Black Mold without Killing the Environment!” N.p., n.d. Web.