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August 3, 2018 5:21 AM   Subscribe

My husband is stressed out about mold. Can you help me reassure him?

Yesterday, my husband opened up the window unit ACs in our apartment and found mold. He's stressing out about how we've all been breathing spores and is worrying about our little new baby. I want to try to help him feel better about this, because it's really getting to him. I'm not saying his concerns aren't valid, but it was not a huge amount of mold, we haven't been breathing it in for more than two months max, and none of us (including the baby) are coughing or wheezing or feeling under the weather. Is there anything scientific/credible I can point him to that will tell him that not all mold is equally toxic, and that a comparatively small exposure isn't going to mean Asthma 4 Lyfe for the little kidlet? I guess if I've got this all wrong and should be freaking out, let me know that too.

Thanks in advance!
posted by prefpara to Health & Fitness (7 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
All mold isn't bad. Even the bad stuff isn't that bad. Here's 4 links that all say the same thing. As with all other "Common health knowledge" - follow the money. Here it points to mold remediation companies. A little bit of stress about the dangers of any mold and they can charge boatloads to come out and spray some bleach at it.

Also, mold spores are EVERYWHERE. Just because mold spores are in the air doesn't mean they are growing in your lungs - very few molds can live inside your lungs because of the heat. You breathe mold spores when you go to the store, open your fridge, or walk in the woods. Dense, stuffy, humid environments are bad over a long period of time, but the AC unit is de-humidifying and so if there's mold on the outside... that's not the worst.

Also, when I've cleaned AC units, a lot of time it looks like mold, but it's actually dust/dirt that has accumulated and stuck to a cooler surface. Even if it is mold (which can be any color) it's probably mixed in with concentrated dirt and dust that makes it look blacker (and scarier) than it is.

Here's some links!
posted by bbqturtle at 5:43 AM on August 3, 2018 [15 favorites]

Watch the documentary Babies. I was very concerned about the germs and spores a little new baby could be exposed to; after watching that adorable baby from Namibia eating dirt out of a stream, I felt much better. Humans were made to survive outside and we're a pretty hardy species.
posted by valoius at 8:20 AM on August 3, 2018 [13 favorites]

Just convince him that if he fusses about keeping kidlet away from some minimal level of exposure to low-virulence pathogens he's setting them up for life-threatening peanut allergies.

I mean, who TF knows if that's true or not, but it's at least as true as the idea that a bit of mold in your AC is going to do something equally awful.
posted by flabdablet at 8:45 AM on August 3, 2018 [2 favorites]

Does your local weather report include the mold spore count, like mine does? This can be a basis for understanding the all-pervasive nature of mold spores. Which might work to ease the fears, perhaps.
posted by Midnight Skulker at 9:16 AM on August 3, 2018 [1 favorite]

Hey, you want to hear a fun story? Our glass sliding door to the backyard tends to grow mold in the tracks during the winter (ancient door, water leaks in the winter, probably lots of icky biological material as a growing medium). One of our kids, at age 2, scraped out and ate a chunk of said mold. We died a bit on the inside. But he lived!
posted by Wavelet at 9:48 AM on August 3, 2018 [6 favorites]

One of our kids, at age 2, scraped out and ate a chunk of said mold. We died a bit on the inside. But he lived!

And now he's making a fortune selling boutique cheeses.
posted by flabdablet at 10:24 AM on August 3, 2018 [3 favorites]

The trope of "toxic mold" lives on having be invented by Local News sometime in the 80's. Not all mold is toxic mold. Most is just and indication of wetness and lack of attention.
posted by humboldt32 at 10:35 AM on August 3, 2018 [2 favorites]

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