Mold Exposure: Symptoms, Risks and Preventions

Mold is a type of fungus that consists of small organisms found almost everywhere. They can be black, white, orange, green, or purple.


Although it may not look pretty, mold is actually very important. It plays a crucial role of breaking down dead plants in nature. This process enriches the soil with organic material and allows new vegetation to grow. In a sense, without mold, the foundation of the food chain collapses.

Why Is Mold So Harmful?

Indoors, however, mold easily spreads small, light spores through the air, scattering them everywhere in the house. Once we breathe in mold, we're more likely to get pulmonary aspergillosis.

In addition, Aspergillus flavus, as it is known, can thrive in foods such as grains, legumes and nuts. It not only destroys food, but also produces aflatoxin, which is one of the risk factors for liver cancer.


For example, mucormycosis and candidiasis are well-known diseases. It can be spread by mold spores, causing inflammation of the nose and sinuses, and affecting the eyes, lungs and brain.

If a lesion forms in the lungs, it can spread throughout the body, especially in people with weakened immunity due to diabetes.

Furthermore, the process of mold reproduction produces a large number of tiny spores, which are the "invisible killer" of allergic people.


What Are Ways of Mold Allergy? 

There are four ways to cause allergic reactions due to mold:

1. Respiratory tract inhalation: This is the most important way of mold allergy, because a large number of mold spores and hyphae float in the air, making people unable to avoid.

2. Contact transmission: Allergic dermatitis can be caused by direct contact between human skin and mold.

3. Oral transmission: Allergic reactions may also occur when sensitive people eat fermented foods (fermented bean curd, soy sauce, pickled food, etc.) and mushrooms.

4. Injection allergy: This is very rare, but everyone knows that penicillin, the most widely used antibiotic in our history, is extracted from mold in three dimensions, so some people can develop penicillin allergy.


Mold allergic diseases are mainly allergic rhinitis, allergic asthma, allergic dermatitis and so on.

  • Skin mold allergy: Mainly manifested as allergic dermatitis, eczema and allergic conjunctivitis.
  • Respiratory mold allergy: Mainly manifested as allergic rhinitis, allergic cough, allergic asthma and so on.

Some Commen Foods May Contain Mold

Almost all of us know what mold looks like and can identify it in an instant. Whether it's on our bathroom ceiling or on food that's been sitting in the fridge for too long, it's almost impossible to be mold-free. Its adverse effects are far more than we can imagine.

  • Alcohol

Yeast, also known as brewer's yeast, is a fungus used in the production of many beers. It can produce mycotoxins and often contains other mycotoxins from dried fruit and grains.

In a study analyzing 154 different types of beer on the European market, they were all contaminated with Fusarium SPP.

  • Coffee

Most people think of coffee as just a drink, and that naturally occurring coffee is completely harmless. In fact, ochratoxin, a fungal toxin lurking in coffee, is one of the most carcinogenic compounds known to us.

  • Peanut

When we think of mold contamination, mildew peanuts are the first thing that comes to mind.

In a study, 24 different types of fungi were found on peanut shells alone, even after the peanuts had been sterilized. The most worrisome mycotoxin found on peanuts is aflatoxin, a known human carcinogen.


What Can We Do to Prevent Mold Development?

The mold we imagine is usually found in dirty bathrooms or soggy basements.

Unfortunately, with mold, it's when we can't see it that the risk is greatest. Because the deadly spores of mycotoxins often lurk in common foods, and they almost always go undetected.

What we need to do is do our best to destroy the environment in which mold grows.

1. Pay Attention to the Humidity in the Room

Most molds grow at about 60% humidity and grow faster at about 80% humidity or higher. 

Because mold can't settle without water, we need to take steps such as removing water droplets around bathrooms and window sashes. Especially after taking a shower, we should wipe the water droplets in the bathroom and turn on the ventilation fan. 

2. Clean Kitchen and Bathroom Drains Frequently

Cleaning your kitchen and drains is crucial to preventing mold, as water droplets can also stick to them. In addition, humidifiers can be a breeding ground for mold, so be sure to clean them. Otherwise, mold may spread throughout the room as the air moves.

Care should also be taken when using mildew remover spray if mold grows. If sprayed directly, spores may be dispersed in the air. For example, spraying an old towel or paper with a mildew remover to wipe away mold can significantly prevent spore transmission. Be sure to wear a mask and rubber gloves to protect yourself.


3. Keep the Room Well Ventilated

Be sure to open the Windows on sunny days to let the damp air out of the room. It is also recommended to open the wardrobe for ventilation, especially when the humidity is low outside. An exhaust fan is also effective when the wind is weak.

In addition, if conditions permit, it's better to use an air purifier at home, because it can effectively capture tiny particles like mold in the air.

Anyway, what we need to do is create an environment where the mold can't grow, rather than wait for the mold to grow and then take action.

4. Store Food Correctly 

Mycotoxins are the main types of molds that affect food, so we should focus on them.

Mold is most commonly found in grains, dried fruits, nuts and spices. Mold contamination may occur before or after food harvest, during storage, or in the food itself. Therefore, in our daily life, we must pay attention to the correct storage of food.

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