What Are the Dangers of Mold in a Basement?

Leaking and mildew wall
Mold can be dangerous. (Image: Jayshiao/iStock/Getty Images)

The musty smell of a moldy basement is not only unpleasant, but can lead to serious health issues. If you think you have mold growing in your basement, educate yourself on the risks of mold in your environment and the best way to eradicate it. While most molds are not toxic in and of themselves, some molds may produce components called mycotoxins that may affect individuals with compromised respiratory or other health issues, suggests the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or CDC.

Respiratory Conditions

Prolonged exposure to indoor molds such as those found in a basement may lead to upper respiratory tract infections such as coughs, wheezing and asthma symptoms. If you're experiencing hay fever-like symptoms, or have been diagnosed with chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder, also known as COPD, or any type of asthma, you may be at an increased risk for symptoms and infections caused by exposure to molds, according to the CDC.

Fungal Infection

Individuals diagnosed with immune-deficiency conditions such as AIDS, or those recuperating from cancer treatments may be more susceptible to fungal infections than healthy persons. Spores from molds inside a basement are inhaled or absorbed through the skin, according to the Merck Manuals Online Medical Library. Most fungal infections originate on the skin or inside the lungs but are not usually contagious from person to person. Those with catheters, artificial joints and heart replacement valves may be at a higher risk of symptoms and illness due to fungal infection.

Cold-Flu Symptoms

A person exposed to mold spores originating from a basement may experience cold or flu-like symptoms that may include a stuffy nose, skin irritations, shortness of breath and eye irritation. You should be aware that infants and the elderly are especially susceptible to such symptoms, and take steps to eradicate the mold growth, suggests the Federal Emergency Management Agency, more commonly known as FEMA.

Pulmonary Hemosiderosis

Some basement mold may be more toxic than others, including black molds, according to Better Health USA. Individuals who have been exposed to such molds may develop a rare lung disease called pulmonary hemosiderosis, which is a type of lung disorder that may cause bleeding in the lungs, according to PulmonaryHemosiderosis.com. The bleeding is caused by an accumulation of iron in the blood that may cause symptoms of anemia and even lung damage, kidney damage and connective tissue damage, depending on the type of hemosiderosis that is diagnosed.

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