You might think that your home offers refuge from all possible allergy irritants. Unfortunately, you’d be wrong. Meet indoor mold, a nasty collection of fungi that can make life miserable for allergy sufferers. By using safe and effective indoor cleaning methods, you can reclaim your house from indoor allergens and put your immune system at ease.
What we call indoor mold is actually 50 to 100 different types of problematic fungi. Below is a list of some common allergenic mold types you may encounter inside your home:
Alternaria – This mold is typically found on soil, plants, wood and food. Alternaria grows rapidly, and generally displays a flat shape and fluffy or woolly appearance. It has a grayish/white color on one side that eventually darkens to olive brown or greenish black. The other side has either brown or black coloring. Alternaria can cause allergic reactions, hey fever, sinus infections and even trigger the development of asthma.
Arthrinium – Arthrinium is another fast-spreading mold, as within a couple of days it can grow to 3 to 9 cm in diameter. They have a texture that ranges from woolly to cottony. Arthrinium colonies are usually white with brown spots. This fungus can cause hay fever, allergic reactions and asthma.
Botrytis – This is a parasitic fungus that feasts on weakening or dying plant tissues. Like other fungi on this list, Botrytis spreads rapidly. Botrytis colonies tend to have woolly textures and white coloring, which turns into gray and then brown over time. You would most likely find Botrytis on houseplants, fruits and vegetables. A person exposed to significant amounts of this fungus could develop allergies, hay fever, asthma and hypersensitivity pneumonitis.
Cladosporium – This front of this mold has a dark green/black color, whereas the reverse side is black. The texture of Cladosporium ranges from powdery to velvet-like. This mold usually grows on rotting plants, woody plants, food, straw, soil, plant and textiles. It can also thrive on the surface of fiberglass duct liners in the interior of supply ducts. Cladosporium has the potential to cause skin lesions, keratitis (inflamed eye cornea), nail fungus, sinus infections, asthma and pulmonary (lung-related) infections.
Stachybotrys chartarum – If your house has flooded or sustained water damage recently, you stand a good chance of finding Stachybotrys inside your home. This mold prefers to grow on water-damaged building materials like sheet rock, paper, ceiling tiles, insulation backing and wallpaper. Stachybotrys require prolonged access to moist conditions to grow and expand, so you can prevent its growth by quickly drying areas affected by floods and water damage. This mold is black and slimy, an appearance that underscores its negative impact on your health. Stachybotrys also produce mycotoxins, toxic substances which weaken your body’s immune system and lead to a variety of health problems. Exposure to Stachybotrys can lead to dermatitis (inflammation of the skin), cough, rhinitis, nose bleeds, cold and flu-like symptoms, headache, general malaise and fever.
Aspergillus – Aspergillus is a group of roughly 200 species of molds, 16 of which are infectious to humans. Among this list are Aspergillus fumigatus, Aspergillus flavus and Aspergillus niger.
Aspergillus fumigatus – This is the most infectious species of Aspergillus. It can be found in the decomposing matter of plants and animals. Good examples of such an environment are compost heaps. People who inhale spores from this mold may develop serious allergy-like symptoms.
Aspergillus flavus – Aspergillus fumigatus is the second most infectious type of Aspergillus. It usually grows and nourishes itself on dead plant and animal tissue. Aspergillus flavus can be a very dangerous fungus; in the 1960s, it killed roughly 100,000 turkeys in the United Kingdom. This mold can spawn aflatoxin, a mycotoxin that can cause cancer and acute aflaxtoxicosis. In humans, acute aflatoxicosis is a nasty disease that can cause vomiting, abdominal pain, pulmonary edema, convulsions and in extreme cases coma and death.
Aspergillus niger – While Aspergillus niger is the third most infectious form of Aspergillus, it is actually the most common version of the mold found in nature. This is due to its ability to grow on a variety of objects, ranging from dead leaves to stored grain to compost piles. When it enters the human body, Aspergillus niger can cause fungal balls to develop inside the lungs. This may cause the afflicted host to cough up blood, a condition known as hemoptysis.
Mold Pest Control for Your Home
While indoor mold does pose a threat to your health, it can be disposed of rather easily. These methods are not only effective at removing mold, but are also safe and pose no threats to your health if used properly.
Borax – This all-purpose cleaner can do a number on mold forming on bathroom tiles and inside of showers. Borax can be made even more potent by mixing it with water. After using the Borax mixture, rinse it off and allow it to air dry. Using a smaller amount of water with Borax can create a paste like substance, which can be applied directly to trouble spots. Make sure to not use too much Borax – in large doses, it could pose a health risk.
Tea Tree Oil – While tea tree oil can leave behind a foul scent, it’s also perfectly safe and a great tool for fighting mold. Mix it with two teaspoons of water to make a useful anti-mold solution. Spray it on the affected area and let dry. The scent should dissipate in a day or two.
Grapefruit Seed Extract – This is a really simple solution to make – just mix 20 drops of lemon juice into two cups of water. Spray it on the mold and let it dry.
Vinegar and Baking Soda – While vinegar and baking soda are known as cooking products, they also double as effective mold fighters. First, make a one-to-one solution of water and vinegar. Then add two parts of baking soda to create a thick paste. Apply this paste to mold colonies, let it dry and then scrub it off. Repeat as needed.
Hydrogen Peroxide Mix – Mix ½ cup of hydrogen peroxide into a cup of warm water to create a powerful mold fighting agent. Apply it to moldy areas using a spray bottle. Conveniently, there is no need to rinse it off from the afflicted area after you use it.