We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What are the Dangers of Mold and Mildew?

By L. Burgoon
Updated Mar 03, 2024
Our promise to you
The Health Board is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At The Health Board, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

Mold and mildew are both fungi that grow in moist environments, such as damp basements or bathrooms. The fungi can grow on any household surface—from wood to carpet to tile—and on food. The main safety issue, especially from toxic mold, comes from inhaling the spores, which can lead to respiratory and nervous system problems. Exposure to the fungi also may cause skin, eye, nose and throat irritation. While people with preexisting conditions may particularly suffer, the side effects of mold and mildew can hit anyone.

Most homes have at least a minor mildew and mold presence that causes few dangerous side effects. The danger of the fungi escalates with major cases. The growth starts within 48 hours of a surface’s exposure to moisture. Unchecked, mildew—which is mold in its early stage—starts to appear. The growth advances to full-blown mold that spreads by spores traveling in the air.

Some molds produce mycotoxin, a potentially toxic substance that is extremely dangerous to inhale. This toxic mold, which often looks like black paint or tar, grows on surfaces repeatedly exposed to heavy moisture, usually from water damage. Short-term exposure to the mold can compromise an individual’s immune system, leading to fatigue, headaches, burning throat and nasal passages, and cold and flu-like symptoms. The mycotoxins attack the nervous system with long-term exposure, leading to dizziness, mood changes and memory loss. In some cases, black mold is fatal to animals and humans.

Mold and mildew present health dangers even if the contamination is not caused by toxic varieties. Respiratory problems are very common, especially in people with preexisting issues, such as asthma. These substances can increase the frequency and intensity of asthma attacks. Exposure also may cause wheezing or a burning feeling when inhaling.

The fungi also may result in repeated bouts of cold- or allergy-like symptoms that do not go away or get better with medication. People may experience sore throats, congestion, sinus problems, sneezing and runny noses. These substances can also cause eye irritation manifested in redness, itchiness or watering. Exposure may lead to skin rashes, bumps or hives as well.

People with certain health conditions, including compromised immunity, severe allergies and asthma, are more susceptible to the dangerous effects of mold and mildew. Long-term exposure, however, can lead to any of the negative side effects, even in healthy people. Those who notice such problems and who do not respond to medical treatments should check their homes for mildew and mold.

The Health Board is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
By anon999543 — On Jan 29, 2018

We have this moldy smell in our office which is carpeted from wall to wall. It has really affect my breathing and I constantly get these ridiculous headaches that subside every time I leave work.

We have brought the issue to management but nothing has been done about it. I'm even thinking of lodging an investigation with the Health and Safety board of South Africa.

By anon992085 — On Aug 12, 2015

Thank you for covering the dangers of mold and mildew. Mold and mildew often grow in damp environments. When someone's home is flooded, there is very little time to remove the water and dry the home before mold sets in. It is good to have a professional who knows how to remove water damage and mold as well as perform restoration on your home.

By vdiedrich — On Dec 10, 2014

Thank you for the great information about mold. I am a certified mold inspector, and when people's homes test positive for mold, they ask me if they should have it removed. I leave that decision to them, and I will provide them with your site information to become better informed about the topic.

Valerie D, Certified Mold Inspector

By anon331107 — On Apr 20, 2013

I am working in a old building which is loaded with lots of junk. I am removing everything to a dumpster. This place has mold and mildew everywhere. How should I protect myself and my health while working?

By golf07 — On May 03, 2012

What is the best way to get rid of mold and mildew odor? Some cleaners I have tired get rid of the mold, but there is still that odor that I have a hard time getting rid of.

We have carpet in our basement, and I think I may end up ripping out all of the carpet to totally get rid of the smell.

I would like to put down something like tile and use rugs instead of having carpet in an area that seems to stay damp a lot of the time.

In the mean time, does anyone have any good suggestions to get this smell out of my carpet?

By julies — On May 02, 2012

I live in an area of the country where most homes have basements. In fact, I can't ever remember living in a home that didn't have one.

Some of them were pretty scary places to be and always had a mold and mildew smell to them. If the basement is just used as a storage space and not living quarters, I can see how it would be easy for this to happen.

As a kid, our basement was always a scary place to me, and I never wanted to go down there by myself. I still think of that moldy smell when I go down into a basement today.

Maybe I am strange, but I have never liked basements and prefer to be upstairs where it is light and there are lots of windows.

By honeybees — On May 02, 2012

My son has asthma and we never let him sleep in the basement even though we had finished bedrooms down there.

If he spends much time in a damp environment like that his asthma always gets worse. A few times after we had a lot of rain, I would notice some mold growing along the wall in the basement.

I had someone tell me the best mold and mildew remover was to put some bleach in a spray bottle and use that to get rid of it.

This has worked for me every time and is much cheaper than buying a special cleaner that would probably do the same thing.

The Health Board, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

The Health Board, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.