Many people are aware of the fact that toxic mold exists, which means there are molds out there than can cause bodily harm, thus the name “toxic.” However, science is unclear about exactly how mold causes bodily harm. Toxic mold, in fact, is more of a legal term than a medical term. A recent University of Maryland case reveals how mold likely caused the eventual death of a freshman student, but the University is not being charged with doing anything wrong. This is because mold is more of a gateway to illness rather than a causal factor. It appears that the mold may have made some students more susceptible to respiratory illnesses.
Mold can aggravate the respiratory system, but it usually only does this if you are sensitive to mold mycotoxins. If you are sensitive, your allergic reaction will be heightened compared to a person who is not allergic to mold toxins. Essentially, if your lungs are irritated, you are more likely to catch other respiratory illnesses. In the University of Maryland, this made students more susceptible to adenovirus, and it became an outbreak.
Mold typically manifests due to a mold-friendly environment that includes high moisture, and this is exactly what happened at the University of Maryland. The dormitory did not have a good cooling system that removed moisture, and mold grew as a result. Multiple students developed mold-related coughs despite de-humidifiers and inadequate remediation efforts. Although the student who died had adenovirus, she may not have succumb to it had she not already been sick from mold.
It is unknown what the end results will be for the many students who have suffered medical complications due to mold in the dormitory at University of Maryland, but there is an ongoing message that can help the owners and managers of residential and commercial buildings. The message is that if you control dampness in your buildings, you will avoid harming people in a manner that could potentially lead to death.
Investing in dehumidifiers, making sure areas are dry, and monitoring humidity are all effective methods to make sure mold does not grow. Humidity below 50% should be dry enough to prevent mold growth, and it may discourage other bugs and pests from entering the area.
Mold can be deadly, and there is one surefire way to prevent it from growing, which is by ensuring that humidity is low. This is typically fairly easy, and it really only requires that one be ready to detect and remove dampness.