The Danger Mold Poses to Children
Of all airborne pollutants, mold is particularly dangerous. It can start growing on water-damaged surfaces in as little as 24-48 hours. Furthermore, mold spores spread quickly and quietly, entering your lungs and causing a wide variety of allergic reactions.
Exposure to mold spores can be harmful to people of all ages. But, children are often more susceptible to its detrimental effects due to their developing immune systems.
Needless to say, you should never compromise when it comes to the indoor air quality (IAQ) of your childcare center or school. Pollutants in the air can directly impact human health and comfort, leading to a host of respiratory illnesses.
While a few black mold symptoms in toddlers are relatively mild, others can pose serious threats to a child’s health and well-being.
Let’s look at the most common symptoms of mold exposure in children.
1. The Effects of Mold on Children
Many studies repeatedly indicated that prolonged mold exposure can cause concerning levels of respiratory distress in children, especially those with asthma or sensitive lungs. Most recently, research from the World Health Organization (WHO) found a direct link between indoor mold exposure in children and the development of asthma.
Inhaling mold spores irritate the lining of the lungs, usually resulting in the following reactions.
- Shortness of breath
- Sore throat
- Nasal congestion
- Itchy or runny nose
- Sinus headaches
For children with asthma, mold spores can trigger frequent attacks and further aggravate chronic lung disease.
2. Why Black Mold is Bad News
While many types of indoor molds can cause allergies, black mold (Stachybotrys chartarum) is especially notorious for its deadly nature. Mycotoxins are emitted from black mold, often creating a burning sensation in the mouth, nasal cavity, and throat. Prolonged exposure can cause mycotoxins to infiltrate the lungs, mucus membranes, and sinuses, leading to a host of severe health complications.
Black mold poses a serious danger to children. A few common black mold symptoms in toddlers include:
A) Neurological Issues
Medical research suggests that mycotoxins can affect a child’s brain metabolism and mental health in significant ways. Children exposed to black mold may experience:
- Confusion and disorientation
- Shortened attention spans
- Slowed reflexes
- Memory fog
- Involuntary trembling
- Impaired brain functioning
- Mood swings
B) Skin Problems
Black mold can result in skin irritation: an early tell-tale sign of mold exposure in children. Problems such as eczema flare-ups, dry, scaly, itchy skin, and dermatitis often indicate the presence of mold in childcare centers. Ideally, you should contact a professional to investigate the problem before it snowballs.
C) Eye Irritation
When black mold spores come in contact with the eyes, they may lead to:
- Inflammation and soreness
- Watery eyes
- Bloodshot eyes
- Blurry vision
D) Internal Damage
Mycotoxins that enter the bloodstream can wreak havoc on a child’s internal organs, often resulting in:
- Irregular heartbeat
- Low blood pressure
- Bleeding tendencies
- Internal bleeding
- Vomiting blood
- Inflammation in the heart
- Bleeding in the brain
- Hemorrhagic pneumonia
E) Other Symptoms
Here are a few additional black mold symptoms in toddlers:
- Chronic fatigue
- Aches in different areas of the body
- Fever, flu, or recurring colds
- Ear infections
- Hearing impairment
- Hair loss
Since toxic black mold exposure shares multiple symptoms with seasonal allergies, you may not suspect mold right out the gate. However, if the children do not seem to get better, or if the symptoms persist for a long time, you should get in touch with a mold inspection and testing company as soon as possible.
Bear in mind that a child’s reaction to indoor mold will depend on their sensitivity, overall health, as well as the amount and type of mold present. However, the longer the toxic fungus lingers in the child’s surroundings, the more serious the symptoms will be.
Taking immediate action against mold can help you protect the children at your center from its adverse health effects.
3. How to Identify a Mold Problem
Black mold symptoms in toddlers are obvious warning signs of a mold outbreak. But if you need further evidence, here’s what you should look for.
- A persistent musty odor
- Mold patches on vinyl, wood, wallpaper, and drywall
- Discolored walls
- Bubbling, cracking, or peeling paint
- Visible signs of a water leak
4. How to Protect Children from Mold
Given the health risks associated with mold exposure, you’ll want to take proper precautions to prevent a mold outbreak in your childcare center. Fortunately, there are tons of simple ways to do this.
A) Use a Dehumidifier
According to the EPA, keeping indoor humidity levels below 60% is crucial to mold control. In case you’re living in a humid climate, a dehumidifier can come in handy. Dehumidifiers drastically reduce indoor humidity, making your childcare center less inviting to mold. Leave a dehumidifier running in damp rooms and watch it get rid of the excess moisture in the air.
B) Dry Wet Areas Quickly
Since mold cannot survive without moisture, you should get into the habit of cleaning and drying moist surfaces as quickly as possible. Whether it’s a leaky pipe or a spill on the carpet, be sure to dry everything thoroughly within 24 hours.
Always air-dry damp items before storing them. Also, do not leave wet napkins or towels sitting in a ball for too long. A little diligence can go a long way in warding off a full-blown mold infestation.
C) Identify Problem Areas
Unfortunately, you cannot mold-proof your childcare center indefinitely. The best you can do is make it mold-resistant by identifying areas prone to water damage. For example, if you spot a water stain on the ceiling, chances are it is due to an ongoing leak. Addressing the problem can prevent a mold problem from growing unimpeded.
D) Get in Touch with a Mold Inspection Specialist
If you’ve noticed black mold symptoms in toddlers attending your center or in teachers and caregivers, call a mold inspection and testing expert immediately. They will collect mold spores from affected areas around your childcare center and send them off for identification. A mold inspection will provide you with all the information you need to move ahead with the remediation efforts. You may also want them to test for additional VOCs (volatile organic compounds) in your childcare facility and home, to be sure that the environment is safe.
The Bottom Line
As the owner of a residence, school or childcare center, the last thing you want to deal with is a black mold infestation. Now that you know the dangers mold poses to children, we hope you walk the extra mile to minimize the risks of an outbreak.
The team at Paul Sakson Environmental will be happy to answer any further questions you have about black mold symptoms in toddlers.
We offer mold inspection and testing services for residential, commercial, and other critical facilities around New Jersey. Our inspections are reliable, thorough, and unbiased, thanks to our high-quality equipment and scientific assessment measures. Contact us today to know more or schedule an appointment!