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Mold can affect the health of people who are exposed to it. People are mainly exposed to mold by
breathing spores or other tiny fragments. People can also be exposed through skin contact with mold
contaminants (for example, by touching moldy surfaces) and by swallowing it.
The type and severity of health effects that mold may produce are usually difficult to predict. The risks
can vary greatly from one location to another, over time, and from person to person.
Most people experience no health effects from exposure to the molds present in indoor or outdoor air.
However, some individuals with underlying health conditions may be more sensitive to molds.
For example, individuals who have other allergies or existing respiratory conditions such as asthma,
sinusitis, or other lung diseases may be more easily affected. Similarly, persons who have a weakened
immune system tend to be more sensitive to molds.
A person’s immune system can be weakened if the individual has conditions such as pregnancy,
diabetes, autoimmune disease, leukemia or AIDS; or if the individual is recovering from recent surgery or
receiving chemotherapy or long-term treatment with steroids; or if the individual is the recipient of a
recent organ or bone marrow transplant. In addition, infants, children, and the elderly have been shown
to be more susceptible to health problems attributable to molds.
There is wide variability in how different people are affected by indoor mold. However, the long term
presence of indoor mold growth may eventually become unhealthy for anyone.
The most common health problems caused by indoor mold are allergy symptoms. Although other and
more serious problems can occur, people exposed to mold commonly report problems such as:
nasal and sinus congestion, cough, wheeze/breathing difficulties, sore throat, skin and eye irritation,
upper respiratory infections (including sinus)
Those with special health concerns should consult a medical professional if they feel their health is
affected by indoor mold.
Some types of mold can produce chemical compounds (called mycotoxins) although they do not always
do so. Molds that are able to produce toxins are common. In some circumstances, the toxins produced by
indoor mold may cause health problems. However, all indoor mold growth is potentially harmful and
should be removed promptly, no matter what types of mold is present or whether it can produce toxins.