Q: I have heard about toxic molds that grow in homes. Should I be concerned? And how do you know if you have mold that is toxic?
A: The term toxic mold is somewhat misleading. According to the Centers for Disease Control, molds themselves aren’t toxic, but molds produce airborne mycotoxins that are toxic. A mycotoxin is also a neurotoxin — a toxin that can cause neurological damage. Airborne mycotoxins and mold spores can have serious side effects if breathed in. These range from allergic reactions like sneezing and sinusitis to chronic fatigue and fibromyalgia. To prevent mold you must stop water from getting inside your home, so pay attention to leaking roofs, cracked foundations, clogged drains and faulty plumbing.

Look for things like:

  • Black, brown, orange, pink, or green speckled walls or on grout or tile.
  • Wood siding where the paint has cracked and water has caused it to crack or buckle.
  • Leaky toilet or bathtub that caused the floor boards to feel soft of buckle.
  • Damage from a flood or hurricane.
  • If you detect mold and want to know if it is toxic, you can use a home testing kit ($45) from MouldWorks@home, a mold analysis lab.

My tips:

  • Do not knowingly expose yourself, even for brief periods of time, anywhere that smells moldy or has an appearance of mold or mildew.
  • If you suspect that there are mold spores in your home, have the air tested by a mold testing/remediation company.
  • If you’ve had any sort of leak in your home, or your humidity is above 50%, you may have mold lurking beneath the surface.
  • For more information on mold go to The Mold Help Organization

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Beth Greer, aka Super Natural Mom®, is an award-winning journalist, green holistic health educator, healthy home expert and impassioned champion of toxin-free living. She’s also a radio talk show host, and trusted consumer advocate, who is leading a movement of awareness and responsibility about healthy homes, schools and work environments. Connect with Beth on Facebook and Twitter.