The Health Effects of Mold
Everyone is exposed to some amount of mold every day. Not everyone is mold sensitive. Continual exposure to active mold spores in the home, workplace or outdoors can, over time, cause or worsen health effects.
Health Symptoms of Mold Exposure
According to a 2004 Institutes of Medicine Report, Damp Indoor Spaces and Health, sufficient evidence exists only to link mold exposure to upper respiratory (nose and throat) symptoms, coughing, wheezing and asthma symptoms among sensitized individuals.
Molds produce allergens, irritants and, sometimes, toxins that may cause adverse health reactions. The types and severity of symptoms depend on the types of mold present, extent of the mold exposure and an individual's existing allergies to mold.
What to do if someone in your household is sensitive to mold:
Consult a health care provider to learn if the symptoms may be related to mold allergies.
Keep anyone who is known to be sensitive to mold away from the exposure. You may need to find temporary living arrangements for them if the mold problem is large enough.
For more details go to the EPA Mold Website
The Environmental Health Epidemiology Bureau provides general information about the health effects of mold and how to clean up mold.
- EHEB does not conduct mold testing, home inspections, or resolution for disputes between landlords and tenants.
- New Mexico does not have laws or state agencies that regulate mold or have jurisdiction to enforce abatement. No federal indoor air quality standards exist for mold.
- Mold and mold spores occur naturally and are present both indoors and outdoors. Excess moisture can cause mold to grow indoors.
- Information on this web page provides information on cleaning and controlling mold growth. Fact sheets, tips, and guides are available for download.
During monsoons and after floods the New Mexico Department of Health reminds New Mexicans they need to be proactive about preventing mold from growing in their homes. If you don’t immediately dry out your home and clean your belongings, you could be setting yourself up for problems down the road. The Department of Health offers more tips for reducing mold growth and cleaning up after floods and rains at: https://nmtracking.org/en/eh_alerts/floods/.
NIOSH Alert: Preventing Occupational Respiratory Disease from Exposures Caused by Dampness in Office Buildings, Schools, and Other Nonindustrial Buildings
Excess moisture can cause mold to grow indoors. Health effects from contact with mold are possible. Controlling moisture by fixing leaks, having adequate ventilation and cleaning up after floods or other water damage is essential to prevent mold growth.
- The key to mold control is moisture control.
- If mold is a problem in your home, you should clean up the mold promptly and fix the water problem.
- It is important to dry water-damaged areas and items within 24-48 hours to prevent mold growth.
How to clean up mold
You can safely clean up small areas of mold, but it is important to take precautions to limit your exposure to mold and mold spores.
Tenants and Landlords
If you rent your home and discover a leak or mold growth, you should report all plumbing leaks and moisture problems immediately to your building owner, manager or superintendent. In cases where persistent water problems are not addressed, you may want to contact local, state or federal health or housing authorities.
What is toxic mold?
Some molds can produce toxins under certain circumstances, but this does not occur everywhere there is mold growth. Research on the presence, detection and effects of mold toxins is ongoing. Learn more about mold toxins.
Resources and Information
Get more information about mold health effects or cleanup:
- NM Environmental Public Health Tracking: Avoiding Mold Growth After A Flood
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Mold
- Environmental Protection Agency
- Occupational and Safety Health Administration
- Housing and Urban Development (HUD) rentals
- National Center for Healthy Housing
- New Mexico Legal Aid’s Renter’s Guide