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What Are the Different Black Mold Health Risks?

Black mold symptoms can include hives.
Black mold can cause allergic reactions including sneezing.
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  • Written By: Amanda R. Bell
  • Edited By: Jenn Walker
  • Last Modified Date: 16 October 2014
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While mold is a naturally occurring fungus, there are a few black mold health risks that range in severity. In some of the world’s population, black mold can cause an allergic reaction. This reaction can be as minor as itchy, watering eyes or as dangerous as the inability to breathe. There are also other black mold health risks, including a fungal infection of the lungs or skin and mycotoxin toxicity.

Black mold is considered an allergen. For those sensitive to it, black mold can cause the immune system to go into overdrive, causing an allergic reaction. Symptoms of a black mold allergy include itchy eyes, sneezing, scratchy throat and hives. In severe cases, black mold can cause the airways of those allergic to it to close, requiring medical intervention to reduce the swelling and regulate breathing. For some asthma sufferers, black mold can sometimes bring on an asthma attack. Antihistamines, inhalers and epinephrine can be used to prevent, control and treat these types of black mold health risks.

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In some cases, black mold can cause an infection in the lungs or skin if the mold spores are inhaled. As black mold is a fungus, certain types can cause an infection in some people, especially those with immune disorders. The most common type of infection is known as aspergillosis; its name is derived from the name of the mold that causes it: aspergillus. Symptoms of a fungal infection in the lungs include severe chest pain and wheezing. If left untreated, the infection can spread to the skin, brain, heart and kidneys and may require hospitalization. If caught early enough, the infection can be treated with oral medications.

One of the most serious black mold health risks is mycotoxin toxicity. Black mold, in certain stages of growth, emanates a toxin known as mycotoxin. Actually developing mycotoxin toxicity, however, is rare. In most cases, even the worst cases of household mold will not cause this issue. Exceedingly high amounts of black mold need to be present, and a person needs to be exposed to it for months, if not years, in order to develop this health issue. If mycotoxin toxicity does develop, it is one of the most dangerous black mold health risks. More often than not, some form of neural damage is expected; if not treated promptly, it can be fatal.

For the majority of people, black mold exposure is nothing more than irritating. This fungus can be toxic, however, and exposure to black mold should be limited or avoided all together. In the home, especially if small children are present, black mold should be eliminated as quickly as possible and, if there is a large amount of mold, a professional should be contacted for removal instruction or services.

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