Mold as an Animal
It’s impossible for the human eye to distinguish among species of mold; if indoor mold can be seen growing in the open at all. Also, mold harms people in unseen ways. I believe that because of these elusive qualities, people tend to oversimplify mold and lump it and its behavior together. And when it’s oversimplified, mold leads to misunderstandings of what it is and underestimating what it can do. The fungi kingdom is as diverse as the animal kingdom, yet we don’t notice this diversity in mold. When a friend calls me up and says, “I have mold in my home, should I be worried?” that question means the same thing to me as “I have animals in my home, should I be worried?” What kind of animals? Are they rabbits or elephants? How many of them are there? Are they attacking you? These same questions apply to mold.
There are 250,000 species of mold and mold can be as aggressive as a cougar, or as passive as a lamb. It may attack you and make you sick, it may not. It may destroy your property, it may not.
Now this bizarre analogy is most useful when understanding the effect mold can have on your health. Mold may be allergenic to some people, but it can also be toxic. These are completely different ways in which mold can harm you. Being allergic to mold is like being allergic to cat hair. It’s not the mold’s intent, nor is it the intent of the cat, to cause you allergic reactions like sneezing or coughing. Also, only some people are allergic to cat hair, and to greater degrees, just as only some people are allergic to certain kinds of molds to certain degrees. But when toxic mold like stachybotrys releases mycotoxins, this is an offensive attack by mold. It’s microbial warfare. This would be like that same cat going berserk and attacking you. Lumping allergenic and toxic health effects due to mold exposure together is like saying cats may cause sneezing or scratch marks.
But even though mold is as diverse as the animal kingdom, it doesn’t change how you should deal with it. The comparison between mold and animals is also true when it comes to advising a solution. “Should I get rid of the mold in my home?” asks the same question as “Should I get rid of animals in my home?” Whether your home has been overtaken by a rhinoceros or a family of raccoons, you don’t want either one in your house. It’s the same with mold. You don’t have to wait until you realize your mold is a rhinoceros rampaging through your living room before you decide to get rid of it.