New research indicates that otherwise healthy people are more likely to develop symptoms of asthma and other disorders if their homes are damp and moldy. Also, those who already suffer from asthma are likely to experience more symptoms in a moldy environment.
The study by the National Institute of Medicine did not rule out the possibility that mold can also cause other problems, including sinusitis, skin disorders, gastrointestinal problems and fatigue though it did not establish a causative relationship.
Authors of the study, requested by the Centers for Disease Control, said that anyone who has a mold of moisture problem in their home should address it immediately, even if they are currently healthy and have no symptoms.
Although it's the first comprehensive review of the effects of mold and dampness, consumers have known for years that mold is a problem. Complaints to ConsumerAffairs.com about mold include:
• Maytag washers Certain models collect mold faster than the dryers collect lint.
• Pacific Siding Dirk, Larry and many others literally have mushrooms growing out of their houses.
• Hotels Paul and his group stayed at a Choice Hotel in Galveston that was Mold City.
Complaints about mold have led to a flurry of lawsuits around the country, especially in Texas, where one couple was awarded $32 million after they claimed they suffered serious health effects when their insurance company bungled a flood cleanup project.
Unfortunately, while the report confirmed that mold can be a problem, it didn't have any easy answers about controlling it.
While there is universal agreement that promptly fixing leaks and cleaning up spills or standing water substantially reduces the potential for mold growth, there is little evidence that shows which forms of moisture control or prevention work best at reducing health problems associated with dampness, the report notes.
The researchers said they had insufficient information to recommend either an appropriate level of dampness reduction, or a safe level of exposure to organisms and chemicals linked to dampness. Better standardized methods for assessing human exposure to these agents are greatly needed, the report says. It calls for studies that compare various ways to limit moisture or eliminate mold and to evaluate whether the interventions improve occupants' health.