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What Should I Know About Dangerous Mold?

By N. Phipps
Updated Feb 13, 2024
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Mold comes from tiny fungi. While it thrives on nearly any surface and can be found just about anywhere, mold generally prefers moist, humid conditions.

Mold varies in color and appearance. It may be gray, white, green or black and may consist of a cotton-like or fuzzy appearance. The gray, white or green mold is typically seen on food items, though this is not always the case. Black mold, on the other hand, is most commonly seen in areas such as walls, ceilings, floors and even clothing that has been exposed to prolonged water damage. This type of mold is usually the result of excessively moist conditions, which can oftentimes be associated with plumbing leaks, flooding, and similar problems.

Extensive areas affected by mold can usually be seen easily. These areas may also exhibit a musty or foul odor. The most dangerous mold, however, is normally that which cannot be seen or smelled. Mold produces spores as it grows. Once dry, these spores become airborne, spreading easily. This is where dangerous mold is born, possibly triggering severe allergic reactions and respiratory problems in those nearby.

Some types of mold can produce chemicals called mycotoxins, which in the right conditions can be extremely dangerous. Moreover, they can withstand digestion as well as extreme temperatures making mycotoxin producing molds all the more dangerous.

While the effects of mold vary from person to person, people with allergies or immune deficiencies are more likely to be affected, especially the elderly and young children. Common allergic reactions include runny nose, sneezing, coughing, headache and fatigue. People with chronic respiratory ailments, like asthma, may be more likely to experience breathing difficulties, and if the conditions are right, may also develop pneumonia. According to the Centers for Disease Control, there are even reports that prolonged exposure to moldy or mildew environments can lead to short-term memory loss.

Without lab testing, it is often difficult to determine whether dangerous mold is present. While not all types of mold are toxic, even the non-toxic types can pose a serious threat if left untreated, especially indoors. Therefore, the most important thing to know about dangerous molds, is that all mold should be removed as soon as possible. Even moldy foods, which can become poisonous and make people sick, should be discarded right away.

Areas where the moldy food was stored should also be thoroughly cleaned. Generally, mold can be removed with bleach and water, however, larger areas may require the aid of professionals to ensure thorough cleaning. When cleaning a moldy area, always use extreme caution and wear a mask to avoid breathing in the spores. It is also advisable to check for any leaks or other water problems to prevent any future outbreaks of mold.

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Discussion Comments
By anon287686 — On Aug 27, 2012

I never knew it could cause lung cancer.

By naturesgurl3 — On Aug 12, 2010

Is pink bathroom mold dangerous? I've been letting it go, but after I read all this about the dangers of mold, now I'm kind of nervous.

Does anybody know?

By rallenwriter — On Aug 12, 2010

@galen84basc -- As the article said, most forms of house mold are not dangerous. If you have a bunch of mold for a long time in your house, then it could be dangerous, but if it's just regular fridge mold, then you're probably not at the level of dangerous house mold yet.

Your best bet for avoiding dangerous mold spores is pictures. That way you can see what the mold looks like, and know if it's dangerous to clean on your own.

By galen84basc — On Aug 12, 2010

Wow -- I had no idea that mold can be so serious. If that's true, then should people take special precautions when cleaning mold?

I mean, how dangerous is mold in a normal house?

Do I need a SARS mask the next time I scrub out my fridge?

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