Whether we like it or not, we need to breathe in order to stay alive. But we end up breathing
a lot of harmful things along with the air. Some of the nasty things always present in the air
are mold and mildew. Few types of mold and mildew have been found causing death in
extreme cases and according to a 2007 study, mold in households directly relates to the
level of depression of the household members. This post talks about what the whole
problem is about, drawing attention to the detrimental effects of mold and mildew on our
health and well being, followed by advice on how to avoid them.
Mold (or ‘mold’), is a type of fungus. They are eukaryotic micro-organisms that are too
small for us to see without a microscope. When a lot of mold starts growing on a surface, it
starts appearing in different colors, including green, blue, or black. Mold spreads by making
spores which are like very small seeds. While it is present everywhere and we are
continuously exposed to it; too much exposure is harmful. It may result in infections, allergic
reactions, or other breathing difficulties. Some types of molds produce mycotoxins which
contribute to a toxic breathing environment for us, our children, and our pets.
Mildew is also another type of fungus, which mostly shows up as a white powdery
substance. It can grow on organic matter, including wood, leather, clothing, and upholstery.
Warmer temperature with high relative humidity is the ideal environment for mildew to
flourish. It is not always harmful, but can trigger minor to serious symptoms in some people –
including respiratory problems and headaches. Some people can also suffer from skin
irritation and burning sensation in the eyes and lungs.
The worst affected are those of us with a compromised or lower immunity, e.g. elderly or
young children. Older people can end up inhaling the mold and the mold can continue to
grow in their lungs. Because their immune system might be weak, it would be difficult for the
body to take care of the invading harmful particles. Once the mold starts growing inside, the
problem gets worse and they start suffering from breathing disorders. In such cases, some
sort of medication is a necessity. Younger children can also suffer from a higher chance of
asthma when exposed to moldy environments. Children with a family history of asthma are
at more risk of developing asthma when exposed to mold. Because children cannot take
care of themselves, the other family members need to make sure such children are
protected from the risk of developing asthma.
The obvious question is then how to avoid something which is present everywhere. The
solution is fairly simple. Keep the home ventilated, warm, and dry. Mold and mildew cannot
grow in dry conditions. Warmer temperatures also avoid condensation from occurring.
Ventilation keeps the air replenished and dissipates the concentration of mildew and mold
growing indoors. We should never let the relative humidity rise above 60% and ideally keep
it under 35%. You can check out this article on how to keep your home dry.
Another consideration in avoiding Mold and Mildew is the temperature of the environment as the
temperature and humidity levels influence each other. Warmer air increases the maximum amount
of moisture that the air can contain and colder air decreases it. At the same time, dry or less humid
air is easier to heat than air with high moisture levels. A healthy home environment is
based on maintaining a comfortable mix of temperature as well as humidity.
Thank you for reading. Stay healthy – stay safe!