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Mold: The Hidden Allergy Problem

Up to one-third of children are allergic to mold (only pollen allergy is more common). Inhaling spores — the invisible airborne seeds of mold — can cause sneezing, a runny nose, itchy eyes, wheezing, and coughing.

Mold is a fungus that comes in thousands of varieties and grows both outside and inside. In order to thrive, mold needs two things: water and warmth — and Panama certainly has both of those. “Mold spores are everywhere. They’re just waiting to be watered to start growing,” says Paul J. Pearce, PhD, assistant professor of pathology and microbiology at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston. In Panama, mold is present indoors during the entire year but mold control is now easier, safer and more effective without using toxic chemicals.

If one parent has allergies, a child has a 30 to 40 percent chance of inheriting the tendency to develop them; if both parents are allergic, the odds are more than 50 percent.Unfortunately, doctors are finding that mold allergy is more than just hereditary. A study at the University of Cincinnati revealed that babies exposed to high levels of certain types of household molds have an increased chance of developing multiple allergies later in life. Other research has found that children who live in a home with visible mold have as much as double the rate of asthma — even if their parents don’t suffer from the disease.

Asthma and mold are a particularly risky combination. Most kids with asthma are allergic to mold, and they tend to react more severely to molds than they do to other triggers. “Outdoor mold begins growing in the spring and gets worse as the year progresses,” says Linda B. Ford, MD, an allergist at The Asthma & Allergy Center in Omaha. “If your child has asthma, it’s important to try to avoid places that are most likely to have mold.” Areas that are especially mold-prone typically include home vegetable gardens, freshly mowed grass, barns, farms, and buildings closed during the winter.

Take Symptoms Seriously

You may brush off your child’s sniffles as a bit of hay fever, but pay attention to whether he reacts in specific locations, If your pediatrician thinks that mold may be the culprit, she’ll probably refer you to an allergist for testing. The allergist will lightly prick your child’s skin with a needle containing common allergens and watch for a hive-like reaction. “The skin test is the gold standard for identifying allergies and finding the treatment that is the most effective,” according to Stuart Abramson, MD, PhD, a pediatric allergist and immunologist at Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston.

When your child is mildly allergic, avoiding exposure may be the only treatment she needs. If your child’s allergy is severe, a combination of an over-the-counter antihistamine, like Claritin or Zyrtec, and a prescription inhaled nasal steroid, such as Flonase or Nasonex, should help. Immunotherapy shots against mold are available, but experts say they aren’t always effective. So we’ve learned a valuable lesson: If you can’t prevent mold, get rid of it as fast as possible.

Control of Mold Now Easier and Safer

If you find mold in your home, don’t panic. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), you usually don’t need an air-quality test. The tests are expensive, there are no federal standards for safe mold levels, and knowing the type of mold won’t change how you handle it. The most important thing is to take these steps to remove the mold — and correct the water problem that caused it.

And thank goodness times have changed. Back in the day, if our grandparents ran into a mold problem they would throw some bleach on it and hope for the best. Today Concrobium Mold Control® offers a new way to fight mold that’s tougher than bleach, and safer too!

Concrobium Mold Control® is a Health Canada-registered and U.S. EPA tested mold fighter that kills mold AND prevents mold growth with no bleach, no harmful chemicals and no VOCs. Concrobium Mold Control® is ideal for parents wanting to eliminate household mold that is affecting their child’s health. Treat pillow, bedding, stuffed animals by spraying with Concrobium Mold Control, let dry thoroughly, then wash. Spray or fog inside drawers and closets.

Treat walls, counter-tops and other surfases with Concrobium. For large areas fogging Concrobium Mold Control with a ULV fogger allows the product to permeate all surfaces, nooks and crannies. Check our web site for a library of protection agencies articles and recommendations.

The Truth About Toxic Mold

You may have heard news reports about “toxic” molds like Stachybotrys chartarum, which has been blamed for everything from runny noses to potentially fatal pulmonary hemorrhage during the past decade. A few molds do produce chemical toxins called mycotoxins, but you’d need to swallow them to get sick. “In order for inhaled mold to pose a serious health risk from mycotoxins, you would have to be in a very, very heavily contaminated building,” says Dr. Stuart Abramson.

But the CDC is still urging caution. According to its comprehensive study, any type of mold can cause symptoms if you’re exposed to large quantities of it for long periods of time, even if it’s not considered to be “toxic.” Children and adults who suffer from mold allergies or lung diseases are the most vulnerable.

Excerpts from the April 2009 issue of Parents magazine.

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