On a rainy late fall day (not too unlike today) towards the end of the semester when I was a sophomore in college, my household of roommates and I decided to blow off working on term papers and studying for finals and instead ate a cookie sheet full of freshly picked magic mushrooms. After bouncing off the walls for a couple of hours and then running around a wet, muddy cemetery in Portland, playing slip and slide through the gravestones, while subconsciously recreating scenes from Easy Rider and Woodstock, we all came to a brilliant epiphany. EVERYTHING GROWS MOLD!
I was reminded by this epiphany when I read the headline story of my local paper yesterday,
Mold a growing problem One wouldn’t intuitively think that mold could be a problem in the desert, but the desert states of Arizona and Nevada tied for the rank of 5th in the nation for mold related insurance claims. This is in part due to cheap housing construction materials combined with the predominant use of air conditioners and evaporative coolers to counter extreme heat.
Breathing mold spores in general can cause respiratory problems such as allergies and asthma. Breathing mycotoxins generated by certain mold spores can cause severe illness and even death. It also turns out that breathing at home, taking in regular accumulations of dust and their bunnies can be a real problem too, especially for children. Did you know that household dust is toxic? Yes, the dust in the wind (cue song by Kansas that annoys the living shit out of me) can be incredibly nasty. This brief article from my same local paper, Household dust laden with toxins, includes this lovely snippet:
From home dust, the average U.S. child ingests the same amount of cancer-causing benzo(a)pyrene as he would get by smoking three cigarettes a day, says a 1998 Scientific American article by researchers Wayne Ott of Stanford University and John Roberts, a Seattle environmental engineer.
In this edition of Doing It For Ourselves, I’ll provide some basic information about molds and household dusts, and what we can do ourselves to control their presence in our homes and workplaces.