The Long Term Health Effects of Mould Exposure

Do Most Homes Have Mould?

A decrepit and crumbling house in a field over layed with an aged-looking photofilter
Mould Finds its Home Everywhere

The short answer would be yes, it is almost impossible not to have mould. Mould is a problem in almost every household since the conditions it needs to grow are almost always readily available. Mould spores need moisture, organic materials, and a moderate temperature in order to grow. Incidentally, all three of these components comprise the modern home. The average home is kept at a comfortable temperature, and built with organic material like wallpaper, dust, and wood. Because of this, the main way of controlling mould growth is by monitoring moisture levels. If levels exceed 60%, then mould will grow. 

The most commonly found moulds are Penicillium, Aspergillus, Alternaria, and more. Knowing this, mould only becomes a problem if it becomes too concentrated within an environment. 

What should you do if you find black mould?

Among all of the mould species, the strain Stachybotrys chartarum (black mould) is the most feared. Despite this, the first thing you should do when encountering black mould is to not panic. Most unhealthy side effects associated with mould only occur after long-term exposure and are only serious in certain people. Discovering a concentrated colony of mould is the first step in a long, investigative process needed to completely remove its presence. 

The first step is to assess the damaged area. Ask yourself the following questions:  How far has the mould spread? Is the mould wet or dry? Is there an obvious cause? 

These should determine whether or not the mould problem is large enough for a professional to deal with. Factors include how old the mould is, and what kind of overt cause is responsible for its growth. Mould will naturally grow from the moisture in the air, however, bigger outbreaks usually have a separate problem like a leak which may be feeding it. 

Dealing With Small Amounts of Mould

If you determine that the mould-affected area is rather small (less than 10 sq feet), there are some simple cleaning methods you can use to mitigate some damage. Washing the area with hot soapy water can kill some of the mould, but not all of it. Contrary to popular belief, even solutions as strong as bleach cannot completely kill off mould due to the elusive nature of spores. 

To be completely sure, it is good to have a mould specialist look after the area. Specialists have the unique tools needed to fight this microscopic menace. 

Can you get sick from sleeping in a room with mould?

Sometimes you cannot locate the source of mould growth right away, and as a result, may even be sleeping in the same room. This begs the question, can you get sick from mould? 

High detail photo of cyan coloured mould. It appears very organic and sinewy
Mould Spores are Invisible to the Naked Eye and Can Grow Anywhere

The answer is complicated since many of the complications that come with mould are influenced by an individual’s genetics and health. People who are either very young, very old, or who are predisposed to being sensitive to mould spores will suffer worse consequences compared to a normal person. Likewise, average people can suffer from these same symptoms if the mould has concentrated enough. 

Overall, the real answer is that yes, you can get sick from mould exposure if you have lived with it for long enough. Long-term exposure has been linked to ‘mould toxicity’, which includes headache, fatigue, and respiratory illnesses that can become very serious. 

How Do You Know if Mold is Making You Sick?

Mould by itself is not inherently toxic. The problem is in the spores that are shot into the air, which can produce what are called ‘Mycotoxins’. In small amounts, these mycotoxins are easily flushed out along with all the other toxic substances in your body. However, long-term exposure can cause these inhaled spores to build up within your body, and go over your ‘body burden’ limit. This ‘limit’ measures the half-life of a chemical presence within your body. 

Much like a funnel can easily overflow if enough water is consistently poured into it, the human body can only process a certain amount of toxins at one time. Mycotoxins that exceed the limit can cause mould toxicity in humans, which is the point that medical attention should be sought after. Some early symptoms of mould toxicity are, 

  1. Coughing
  2. Watery eyes
  3. Runny nose
  4. Redness of the eyes
  5. Wheezing
  6. Shortness of breath
  7. Stuffy nose
  8. Headache
  9. brain fog

Most of these symptoms can be mistaken for allergies, which is why it is important to be vigilant. In cases where a person is susceptible (asthma, or lowered immune system), other more dangerous symptoms may appear depending on the mould, and length of exposure. 

Mould Sickness and Symptoms

Some of the more notable and heinous results of mould toxicity in humans can result in the following illnesses. 


Aspergillosis refers to a form of infection that is caused by Aspergillus mould spores. These are commonly lung infections that range in severity depending on the patient. 


Aspergilloma is an advanced and dangerous form of aspergillosis which can occur in immunocompromised patients. What occurs is that Aspergillus spores will enter a person’s lung, and settle somewhere. If the immune system cannot fight it, the mould will grow fungal balls within the person’s lung cavities. Left untreated, these spores can even migrate and grow on other organs, leading to other illnesses and death. 

Symptoms include,

  1. Coughing
  2. Wheezing
  3. Shortness of breath
  4. Coughing up blood

Invasive Aspergillosis-

Invasive aspergillosis is the advanced version of aspergilloma that is almost always relegated to people with weak immune systems or underlying conditions. Invasive aspergillosis is when the aspergillus spores migrate from the lungs to organs like the brain, heart, and kidneys. Other than the symptoms that come from specific organ failure, invasive aspergillosis includes,

  1. Coughing up blood
  2. Fever and chills
  3. Chest pain
  4. Headaches
  5. Lesions
  6. Death

Allergic Reactions to Mould-

petri dishes filled with fuzzy mould growth against a white background
Mould Can Grow Anywhere. Even in a Human Body

Some people with underlying conditions such as asthma, cystic fibrosis, or an allergy to mould can suffer from the following symptoms,

  1. Coughing up blood or mucus
  2. Worse asthma
  3. Fever

Can You Recover From Mould Toxicity?

While long-term exposure to mould and mould toxicity have undesirable symptoms, especially for those with no immune system, it is possible to recover. Medical treatment and time are enough to detox from mould poisoning, as long as exposure to mould spores is stopped completely.

The Process

Seeing a doctor is a priority for any advice regarding mould detoxification, although some sources cite activated charcoal as a reliable treatment. Activated charcoal is a black powdered substance used by doctors to absorb toxins in cases of overdose. 

The best treatment is to remove oneself from the afflicted area if possible. Complete remediation of the mould and all of its spores is necessary if you are returning to this space. Without the process of mould remediation, the body has no chance of healing. 

Mould Remediation

The best way to detox from mould toxicity is to remove the source of the toxins, which is the mould. Any house that has a large spread of mould should be handled by mould specialists. The process for removing mould is delicate since the microscopic spores are invisible and very stubborn. The process of mould removal and remediation follows a few steps, which can be explained in more detail here

For a short overview, removal involves dry-ice blasting, fogging, and clean-up. 

Comments are closed here.