When people think of mold, they typically think of it as resulting from a leak in their home or possibly at their office. Food mold likely comes to mind as well. Beyond that, most people have no idea just how many places and things expose them to mold.
Do you know where you are exposed to mold?
This article is not meant to scare you or force you to live in an underground concrete bunker. It is meant to raise awareness about the many ways in which you are exposed to mold. For some people, even a small mold exposure can mean a huge setback in their health. Others won’t even notice when they walk into a super moldy environment. However, I feel that everyone should be armed with information about where mold lurks so they can either avoid it or simply have a greater awareness.
Let’s take a look at the many ways you are exposed to mold in daily living.
You Are Exposed To Mold At Home
This is no a brainer right? Everyone knows that their home either has, has had, or will have mold at some point in time. Even if you never experience an indoor mold problem, you certainly will find some outdoor mold or food mold at some point.
Basically, any room in your home can end up with a mold issue. Bathroom mold is very common, especially in the shower and toilet. Washing machine mold is another issue. The places that a lot of people overlook are attics, crawl spaces, and basements. Those areas are at very high risk for mold.
But what about your stuff? Furniture, décor, dishes, etc… Are you being exposed to mold from household items?
The short answer is yes. There are a LOT of things we have in our homes that are not only very susceptible to mold growth but also make great homes for dormant mold spores and mycotoxins. Let’s take a look at these items in alphabetical order. Please note – this covers the major things in your home. There are a lot of little things that also pose a risk.
- Anything with rope accents
- Area rugs
- Artificial plants and flowers
- Baby bottle nipples
- Bath toys
- Bathtub mats
- Bean bag chairs
- Blankets, especially those made of yarn
- Butcher block counter tops
- Canvas paintings
- Cardboard anything
- Cat trees
- Chair cushions
- Couches – any type of fabric not including leather
- Curtains – fabric material
- Décor with feathers
- Dining room chair with fabric
- Faux wood blinds
- Furniture made of particle board
- Futon mattress / cushions
- Hair brushes
- Ironing boards
- Kitchen appliance with a motor
- Lamp shades
- Linens and bedding
- Ottomans – cushions and wood frames
- Padded benches
- Padded headboards
- Pet beds
- Pet food
- Pop up laundry baskets
- Pressed board furniture or cabinetry
- Reclaimed wood furniture
- Recliners and other living room chairs – any type of fabric not including leather
- Shower curtains – fabric and vinyl
- Stuffed animals
- Taxidermy animals
- Throw pillows
- Throw rugs
- Toilet seat covers
- Unfinished wood furniture
- Unfinished wooden laundry drying racks
- Vinyl flooring
- Wicker furniture
- Wood crates
- Wood furniture or décor with knots
- Wooden butcher blocks and cutting boards
- Wooden décor
- Wooden organizers
- Wooden picture frames
- Wooden shower hooks
- Wooden soap dishes
- Wooden utensils
In addition to that mind-boggling list, there are a few additional ways you are exposed to mold in your home that you likely would never think of. Let’s take a quick look at those.
Moldy food in the refrigerator not only poses a health hazard if you eat it, but it can actually contaminate the vents in the fridge and freezer which then will circulate through the rest of your food AND your home. Not good.
Coffee makers that are not cleaned immediately after use are a hot bed for mold growth. Kurig type machines are a huge toxic mold mess and should be avoided. Rubber seals around things like an Instant Pot lid or a Nutribullet are prone to mold growth.
Sippy cups and water bottles are prone to mold growth because they are often reused without a thorough cleaning.
As you can see, your home has the potential to be a very moldy environment which is why mold prevention is key as is being a mindful consumer.
What Can You Do To Prevent Mold On Household Items?
My suggestion is that you make it a priority to fog your entire home with EC3 Mold Solution Concentrate. Do this monthly if possible. This will help deactivate mold spores as well as mycotoxins. You can learn more about the EC3 line of products and how they work here. You can also learn more about how easy it is to fog for mold here.
You can also wash your dishes and kitchen items a certain way to remove mold spores and prevent mold growth. Check out my dishwashing protocol here.
You Are Exposed To Mold At Work
Office buildings tend to be much more neglected than people realize. In addition, building materials and construction methods can be sub-par. This means that mold can lurk just about anywhere.
The most common places you are exposed to mold at work are:
- Behind baseboards and molding
- Book shelves with particle board
- Carpeting and carpet padding
- Ceiling tiles
- Copy machines
- Cross contamination from employee homes
- Office chairs
- Padded office room dividers
- Potting soil from plants
- Under sinks in bathrooms and breakrooms
What Can You Do About Mold At Work?
I get it. You can’t just quit. You might be able to alert your superiors to the issues you see or suspect but if they won’t do much about it, you are on your own. I suggest you burn an EC3 candle while you are at work (1 hours a day is plenty) or you just spray your immediate area with EC3 Mold Spray.
You Are Exposed To Mold In Your Car
Yep – you read that right. Cars get moldy too. I have an entire post dedicated to car mold so please check that out.
You Are Exposed To Mold At School
Schools, especially older ones, are notoriously moldy. An increase in budget cuts has led to a decrease in facilities maintenance. This means that leaks often go unchecked for far too long.
As such, you are exposed to mold at school. Typical issue include:
- Classroom sinks
- Craft supplies
- Cross contamination from students’ homes
- HVAC system
- Library and library books
- Locker rooms
- Old boiler rooms
- Pool areas
- Shower areas
You Are Exposed To Mold In Stores
This could honestly be an entire article. Not only do stores themselves have a ton of water damage (frequently due to roof leaks) but the items in stores often come in contaminated. Any item that is shipped across water WILL have mold or mold spores. Despite the fact that items shipped from oversees are usually sprayed with a fungicide, spores do end up trapped and/or growing by the time they reach their final destination. Items are also stored in moldy warehouses for any length of time.
Stores sell loads of things that are perfect food for mold and made of materials that hold firm to mold and mycotoxins. Furniture stores and home décor stores are the worst offenders. But grocery stores have their share of mold issues thanks to contaminated food and water intrusion.
Stores also have loads of cross contamination. People come in and out all day bringing their toxins with them!
We can’t avoid buying the things we need but it is good to be aware of the places you shop at frequently. In addition, use the products I refer to under the “At Home” section above to clean and launder new purchased with.
You Are Exposed To Mold In Restaurants
Interestingly enough, restaurants are considered to be one of the least likely buildings to have a mold issue. My guess is that this is because they are held to very high standards via their local health department. Certainly a restaurant could have a mold problem due to a leak or other water intrusion but most mold sensitive people are able to dine out without reacting like they might if they went to a local big box retailer. Although restaurants have high traffic, they are cleaned more frequently and more thoroughly.
And yes – I know that there are some real dumps out there. Just avoid those completely.
You Are Exposed To Mold At And Near Airports, Train Stations, Gas Stations, and Truck Stops
Why? Jet fuel and diesel fuel contain mycotoxins. If you are exposed to this regularly, this could be an issue for you. Check out Microbes In Fuel for more information.
You Are Exposed To Mold On Farms And Homesteads
Chicken coops, hay, old wood, compost piles, and so much more makes for a never ending supply of food for mold. You will absolutely be exposed to mold the moment you step foot on a farm. In fact, there is an actual condition called Farmer’s Lung that is attributed to mold exposure on the farm.
Here are a few worthwhile links to farm and homestead mold issues:
You Are Exposed To Mold In Food and Beverages
Our food supply is highly contaminated with mycotoxins. I wrote an entire post dedicated to this topic. It is a must read.
Beyond actual food items that are contaminated with mold and mycotoxins, there are some other risks of mold exposure when eating out. These come from soft drink machines, slushy machines, and coffee makers. All three are highly contaminated with toxic strains of neurotoxic molds.
In addition, carbonated soft drinks themselves have the potential to be contaminated from mold. Check out these scary reads:
- Gunk Funk and Mold In Slushy Machine
- Microbial quality of soft drinks
- Spoilage in Carbonated Soft Drinks
You Are Exposed To Mold In Tobacco Products
This is a BIG one folks! There are loads of toxic molds and mycotoxins in cigarettes and cigars. Chewing tobacco is an issue as well.
A recent study reported in New Scientist had said researchers looked for molds in the tobacco from 14 brands of cigarettes. All brands had some fungal contamination, and mold could be grown from 68 of the 98 cigarettes tested. Most of the molds detected were Aspergillus fumigatus.
The mycotoxins found in mold are not destroyed when tobacco is burned. They will transfer into the smoke, and the person smoking this mold infected tobacco will ingest these harmful, and potentially deadly toxins into their lungs where it will then enter their blood stream.
An article on the University of Kentucky (U of K) website explains how mold infects tobacco crops:
The frequent periods of protracted mild, wet weather during August and September have been providing favorable conditions for mold development in curing tobacco, especially that housed early. With more wet weather in the forecast, growers should expect increased potential for mold development in mid to late harvests, as more of the tobacco cures and becomes more susceptible to mold development.
Once the tobacco leaf is dead it becomes an excellent source of food for a number of fungi that could not feed on it while it was alive. Thus, the pattern of the mold being mainly associated with early housed tobacco relates to the fact that it has more dead leaf, while the later-housed plants are still alive. The colonization of the leaf by these fungi results in moldy tobacco which is lower in quality and weight due to deterioration, off-colors, and residues from fungal metabolism. Consequently, moldy tobacco is of less value.
A small amount of mold develops every year on cured tobacco, especially the stems (mid-ribs), but this is not usually considered to be serious. However, when mold develops on the lamina of the leaf, there is concern. Problem levels of mold develop when moist conditions prevail. Furthermore, the higher the temperature during the moist period, the more rapid is the mold development. In general, the mold growth rate doubles for every 18 degrees F in increased temperature.
Most of the mold problems thus far are associated with early crops in poorly managed curing situations, such as tobacco hanging close to the ground or in areas where surface water is draining into the barn. If the humid weather being experienced continues to persist, the mold problem could begin to plague tobacco housed under better curing conditions and even crops housed later in the season.”
Here are a couple of additional resources on cigarette mold and chewing tobacco mold:
- Cigarette Smoke, Bacteria, Mold, Microbial Toxins, and Chronic Lung Inflammation
- What’s In Dip? Yeast, Mold, and Bacteria
You Are Exposed To Mold In Antibiotics
Bet this one surprised you? It shouldn’t though. Many antibiotics are made of toxic molds like penicillium and aspergillus.
This is a pretty fun article about harnessing the power of mold into antibiotics.
You Are Exposed To Mold In Breast Implants
Mold in breast implants is FINALLY getting more attention. This is a VERY serious issue and extends to all implants, not just breast implants.
How are you exposed to mold in breast implants? Saline implants can have faulty valves that allow body fluid/tissue in and allow colonization of fungal microorganisms inside the implant. These microorganisms produce mycotoxins.
The labels on the saline solution (pyrogen-free Sodium Chloride U.S.P. Solution for Injection) to fill the saline implants, recommend storage at 25°C (77°F) and include a discard date of about 18 months (sources: Mentor SSED see pg.15 and here). With these implants the saline is stored in the body at 98.6°F for many years. This makes the perfect breeding conditions for fungi and other microbes to grow.
Fungus thrives in warm and wet areas. Additionally, due to the immune deficits implants cause, there is an increased susceptibility to developing fungi (mold, yeast, etc) inside the body from contact with mold in the environment.
Mold can also occur in silicone implants as they disintegrate and allow body fluids to permeate the shell and implant. Textured implants, both saline and silicone, allow body fluids to be soaked up by the textured surfaces, and therefore this also attracts fungus and provides an ideal breeding ground.
I highly recommend the book “The Naked Truth About Breast Implants.” Eye opening to say the least.
Here is a pretty extensive list of articles discussing mold in breast implants.
They report a case of Aspergillus flavus growth within and around a saline-filled breast implant that was inserted 18 months previously. Growth of fungi within the lumen of saline-filled implants has previously been demonstrated in laboratory studies.
This case re-iterates that the silicone envelope of a saline-filled implant is selectively permeable and we believe this is instrumental in facilitating intraluminal microbial growth.
There is an interesting association of saline-ﬁlled breast implants with fungal infection in the literature, suggesting that there may be some inherent characteristic of saline-ﬁlled implants that is conducive to fungal growth. We suggest that it is the selectively permeable nature of the silicone envelope of saline-filled breast implants that is responsible for facilitation of Aspergillus growth by diffusion of metabolites and perhaps by preventing antigen presentation from the lumen to immune cells.
The data shows that several types of bacteria (particularly gram-negative species) and fungi can grow and reproduce in a restricted saline environment for extended periods of time.
Recent anecdotal reports have indicated that a high percentage of saline implants harbor dangerous microbes. These reports have caused considerable alarm and fear to saline implant recipients. .
This report describes a case of gross contamination with the filamentous fungus P. variotii cultured from an intraluminal saline breast implant removed from a patient 14 months after implantation because of severe capsular contracture.
This article discusses other kinds of implants as well as things like screws used for knee replacements.
You Are Exposed To Mold In Pesticides and Other Chemicals
Some pesticides and chemicals use toxic molds that produce T-2 (Trichothecene) mycotoxins. These are serious neurotoxins and should be avoided at all costs. This is why it is a good idea to limit your use of chemicals inside and outside your home.
Here are a couple of easy to understand articles on this topic.
You Are Exposed To Mold With Live Christmas Trees
Ever heard of Christmas Tree Syndrome? I hadn’t either. But that’s because I have never had a live Christmas tree. Check this out…
Pine trees begin to decay and produce mold spores that release mycotoxin into the air as soon as they are cut? It only takes a few short days for the spores to start duplicating and building up in an indoor environment, including homes, schools and offices.
Researchers at St. Vincent’s Medical Center in Bridgeport, Connecticut, found that a room containing a fresh Christmas tree for two weeks had mold levels that were five times the normal level. Other studies have shown that levels this high can cause allergic rhinitis and asthma symptoms, says the study’s coauthor, allergist and immunologist Philip Hemmers. (A fresh Christmas tree for two weeks had mold levels that were five times the normal level)
In another study Dr. John Santilli, compared the level of mold spores in the home before and after the tree was placed in the home. The normal level of mold spores is 800 per cubic meter, but within 14 days of the Christmas tree being in the home, the level of mold spores increased to 5,000 spores per cubic meter.
Another scientific study by allergy specialist, Dr. Lawrence Kurlandsky at Upstate Medical University in New York set out to determine why respiratory illnesses peak around Christmas. The study found 53 different kinds of mold, including, aspergillus, penicillium, cladosporium and alternaria, which can trigger asthma attacks, sneezing and a runny nose. One of the key conclusions made by this study was 70 percent of the molds found triggered allergies and asthma.
Say what? Yeah. I know. Just don’t risk it. Christmas trees aren’t worth this mess. To learn more about Christmas Tree Mold check out that article.
As you can see, mold is all around us. That’s why we need to stay vigilant, be aware of potential cross contamination, and try to not purposely introduce mold into our homes and workplaces. Remember – mold prevention is key.
Other Sources Not Already Noted