What is a mold?
Molds are a type of primitive plant called “fungus”. Unlike true plants they cannot synthesize food from air and sunlight. They get nourishment by dissolving organic matter by secreting digestive enzymes. They require a highly humid environment to grow on. Viewed under the microscope, the fungus is seen to consist of branching filaments with spores at the ends of the filaments.
They differ from “yeasts” in that molds are multi-cellular while yeasts are unicellular fungi.
The yeast used to make bread is a unicellular fungus.
Where are molds found?
They can be seen in some houses wherever it is damp and there is poor ventilation. They frequently colonize shower walls or the parts of walls where leaking pipes pass through.
They appear as glistening brownish-green stains.
What are the effects of molds on health?
- The main health issue with molds is caused by their “spores”.Spores are like small seeds of the fungus that are released into the air in search of fertile places to grow.When sensitive people come into contact with these spores, they develop an allergy to them.When the spores are encountered again they act as allergens and trigger an allergic reaction that releases histamine and other substances that cause the allergy symptoms.
Mold spores also act as triggers for asthma attacks.
- Molds secret substances that are toxic to other microorganisms to prevent them from growing near the mold and competing for the food supply. Although many of these “bactericides” are of medical benefit, as they are used as antibiotics (like penicillin) ,many molds release substances that are highly toxic even to humans and accidental ingestion causes a type of food poisoning.
- In some people who have a weakened immune system like diabetics and HIV patients, some molds will actually invade the body (usually the lungs) causing severe infections.
Symptoms of mold allergy:
- Running congested nose and sneezing
- Coughing and wheezing
- Itchy ,tearing eyes
- Body pains