Health Risks of Mold

The most common types of mold are generally not hazardous to healthy individuals. However, people who have asthma, allergies, or a weakened immune system are more likely to react to mold. Some types of mold can cause more serious health problems, but this is much more rare.

Symptoms of Mold Exposure

Allergy symptoms are the most common health problem caused by exposure to indoor mold. Although other and more serious problems can occur, typical symptoms - alone or in combination - include:

  • Central nervous system problems (constant headaches, memory problems, mood changes)
  • Cough
  • Eye irritation: red, watery, blurry vision, light sensitivity
  • Nasal and sinus congestion
  • Possible fever
  • Respiratory problems such as wheezing, shortness of breath, or other breathing difficulties
  • Skin and eye irritation
  • Sore throat
  • Upper respiratory infection (including sinus)

Individual Reactions

There is a wide range of individual reactions in people exposed to indoor mold. For some people, a relatively small amount of any mold spores can cause health problems. Other people may only react when a large amount or certain type of spores are present. In addition, some types of mold can produce chemical compounds called mycotoxins, although they do not always do so. Molds that produce toxins are common, but only a few may cause health problems. Some types of mold can cause more serious health problems, but this is much more rare. However, it is important to remember that all noticeable indoor mold growth (toxin producing or not) is potentially harmful to health and should be promptly removed.

Groups At Risk

Long term exposure to excessive indoor mold growth may eventually become unhealthy for anyone. However, the following people may be affected more rapidly and/or more severely than others:

  • Infants and children
  • Elderly persons
  • Individuals with respiratory conditions or sensitivities such as asthma or allergies
  • Pregnant women
  • Persons with weakened immune systems (chemotherapy patients, organ transplants recipients, people with HIV infection, etc.)

Consult a medical health professional if you or a family member are having health problems that you believe are related to indoor mold.