Seeing mold growing on an old piece of bread is creepy enough, but mold in the home is something next level. It might not be a problem you think about regularly, but if you feel like you have some weird health issues, you might be exhibiting some signs that you have toxic mold in your home. Since mold isn't always visible or easy to spot, it's important to know what to look out for so you can take care of any issues if you have some — you don't want your health to suffer just because your house looks clean enough.
"Although toxic mold can bring on the most serious health problems, all mold and mildew can cause health issues — especially for those who suffer from allergies," says Robert Weitz, a certified microbial investigator and principal of RTK Environmental Group, over email. "An important thing to consider: Do you feel bad at home or at work, but feel better when you leave? It’s very likely a mold or indoor air quality issue."
If you suspect you have mold in your home, look out for these seven telltale signs. These signs can help you identify a potential problem, but if you feel that mold has made its way in, schedule a test. An independent testing company will provide you with an unbiased assessment of the situation, determine what type of mold is growing in your home, and determine the proper course of action to remove it.
One of the first things you might notice is a musty smell. If you smell mold, it's likely there, even if you don't see it. This is a sign to take action, because if you can smell mold, a health risk may be present, according to the CDC.
"Toxic black mold can cause respiratory-related health problems," says Weitz. This can lead to a chronic cough, shortness of breath, or sinus congestion. "Those with immune suppression or underlying lung disease are more susceptible to fungal infections caused by mold," he says.
Toxic mold can cause itchy and uncomfortable rashes, as many people are actually allergic to mold. This can lead to inflammation, swelling, and irritation of the skin and sometimes even hives.
The presence of toxic mold can affect the brain. This can lead to problems concentrating and even memory loss. One study on mice even found that inhaling mold spores made mice anxious and forgetful after just three weeks of exposure.
Feeling tired all the time? Mold might be to blame. According to Weitz, toxic mold can cause chronic fatigue and weakness. This fatigue is more likely to kick in on humid days, and you might feel relief when around an air conditioner or near fresh air.
If you see some funky colors around your house, it might be mold, as is coloration of the walls is a sign that something is amiss. It can be hard to determine between other causes for discoloration and potential toxic mold, but a professional can come look and determine if you have an issue.
Mold isn't always obvious, and sometimes it just looks like a typical stain. This is because when mold rubs off a surface, it can leave just stained spots or patches. Different molds have different growth patterns, and some show up more than others. But if you're noticing spots, it can't hurt to get them checked out.