Mold exposure is a growing concern for many people, and with good reason, but did you know that there are a multitude of other indoor air contaminants that can also affect your health? From chemicals like radon and VOCs to something as simple as common allergens, these invisible pollutants can easily enter the home and linger for extended periods of time without notice, though there are warning signs that can be identified and testing that can be done to verify their presence.
Mold itself can be found in many indoor environments, and exposure to it can cause a wide range of health problems. From chronic sinus infections to allergies and respiratory problems, the effects of mold exposure can be significant though not widely known. We hope these numbers on indoor air quality and mold exposure help you to understand a little better the prevalence of these issues:
- Indoor Air Quality is Often 2-5x Worse than Outdoor Air Quality
- 50% of All Homes Have Mold or Moisture Issues
- Up to 25% of the Population Has a Genetic Susceptibility to Mold
- Over 90% of Chronic Sinus Infections are Attributed to Mold
Indoor Air Quality is Often 2-5x Worse than Outdoor Air Quality
Indoor air pollution is a significant problem in many homes and buildings that often goes unnoticed as most common contaminants are invisible to the naked eye.
In fact, according to the EPA, indoor pollutant levels can be 2-5 times higher than outdoor levels on average. This means that people who spend most of their time indoors may be exposed to higher levels of mold and other pollutants, potentially putting their health at risk.
When the indoor air quality deteriorates enough, or with long enough exposure, this can lead to a variety of symptoms known collectively as Sick Building Syndrome (SBS). This term is used to describe a situation in which the occupants of a building experience acute health- or comfort-related effects that seem to be linked directly to the time spent in the building.
- Eye, Nose, or Throat irritation
- Dry Cough
- Dry or Itching Skin
- Difficulty Concentrating
50% of All Homes Have Mold or Moisture Issues
Despite the significant health risks associated with mold exposure, many people are unaware of just how prevalent it is in indoor environments. Studies have shown that 50% (or more) of all homes have mold, or moisture issues (which can lead to the growth of mold). This means that a significant portion of the population may be exposed to elevated levels of mold and its respective health effects without even realizing it.
Moisture intrusion in the home can take on many forms, with common sources including pipe leaks, foundation issues, and high humidity, and being the primary cause of mold growth (and other unwanted intruders, like insects and rodents) it is very important to address the source of any moisture intrusion as quickly as possible. Unfortunately, not all moisture intrusion is immediately visible, so it’s also important to understand the many warning signs of mold exposure to know if it could be lingering, hidden, somewhere in your home.
Up to 25% of the Population Has a Genetic Susceptibility to Mold
Genetic susceptibility to mold is another important factor to consider when it comes to mold exposure. Studies show that up to 25% of the population has a genetic susceptibility to mold, which means they may be more sensitive to the effects of mold exposure. This susceptibility is largely believed to be tied to variants of the HLA-DR gene, which codes for a protein involved in the immune system’s response to foreign substances, such as bacteria, viruses, and molds. Specifically, the HLA-DR gene produces a protein that helps the immune system recognize and respond to these foreign substances by presenting them to immune cells called T cells.
There is evidence that certain variations of the HLA-DR gene can affect an individual’s response to mold exposure. In particular, studies have found that people who carry certain HLA-DR variants are more likely to develop an allergic response to mold and experience symptoms such as wheezing, coughing, and nasal congestion. In severe cases, exposure to mold can even lead to more serious health problems, such as asthma, fungal infections, and neurological issues.
Over 90% of Chronic Sinus Infections are Attributed to Mold
Finally, it’s important to note that mold can be a significant contributor to chronic sinus infections. In fact, over 90% of chronic sinus infections are attributed to mold. As mold accumulates within the body, it forces you to divert energy and your immune system toward removing this intrusion, leaving you more vulnerable to infections of all kinds, but particularly within the respiratory system.
This means that if you suffer from chronic sinus problems, it’s essential to consider the role that mold exposure may be playing in your current health situation. Taking steps to reduce your exposure to mold, such as quickly addressing any moisture issues and having professional testing conducted, may help to determine if mold could be the culprit, helping to alleviate your symptoms and improve your overall health.
Understanding these numbers behind mold exposure is critical for anyone concerned about their indoor environment, air quality, and personal health. With more than 50% of all homes having mold or moisture issues and up to 25% of the population having a genetic susceptibility to mold, it’s clear that mold exposure is a significant health concern that should not be taken lightly.
If you do suspect mold is present in your home, it’s important to seek professional help to address the issue and reduce the risk of further health problems, allowing you to breathe easy knowing your home and health are in good hands.