Signs and Symptoms of Mold Exposure

Author: Tara L. Umbrino, Stafford, VA Personal Injury Attorney

We all know that where there’s smoke, there’s fire. But did you know that where there’s water, there’s mold?

Water can get into your home many different ways.  A burst pipe.  A leaky roof.  Flooding after rain.  And when water settles in the house, mold will start to grow.

What is mold?

You might think of some old food in the back of the refrigerator when you hear the word mold, but it occurs in more locations than you would think.  Mold, like pollen or dust, is a natural part of the air that we breathe on a daily basis.  It can be a problem for people who are more sensitive or allergic to mold, or when there is a high concentration of mold.  This happens in indoor areas, like homes, schools, and offices, and can have a serious impact on your health.

How does mold grow and spread?

Mold spores travel through the air and when they land on surfaces, they try to grow.  The best conditions for mold to grow are in high concentrations of moisture, high humidity, and temperatures above 65º F.[1] Moisture can come from living in a hot, humid location, such as near an ocean, but can also occur after a flood or a leaking pipe causes water to soak into your house. When the spores land on those warm, wet surfaces, they grow and reproduce quickly.[2]

Symptoms of Mold Exposure

Your body’s reaction to mold is an allergic response.  Common symptoms include itchiness, rash, headaches, cold or flu-like symptoms, coughing or wheezing, and a runny nose or eyes.  Illness can progress to sinus and respiratory infections and even immune conditions.[3]  The more sensitive you are to mold, the more severe your symptoms are likely to be.  Some people, such as young children, the elderly, and people with pre-existing respiratory problems may be more susceptible to severe reactions than others.[4]

If you have mold in your house, school, or office, the Environmental Protection Agency, Center for Disease Control (CDC) and Virginia Department of Health recommend the following cleaning techniques:

  • Stop the source of the water problem, such as fixing leaky pipes
  • Dry wet surfaces within 24-48 hours and make sure the area is well ventilated
  • Clean hard surfaces with a water and bleach solution (no more than 1 cup bleach for every gallon of water)
  • Remove or replace mold-infested carpets, upholstery, and drywall

If you have a landlord and are experiencing these problems, notify them immediately of any water and mold issues and make sure they take proper steps to remove mold.

If you think mold is making you sick, the CDC recommends visiting your primary care or family doctor.[5]  Your doctor may refer you to specialists like allergists or pulmonologists.

If you think that you’re being exposed to mold and it’s making you or your family sick, the attorneys at Allen & Allen are available to evaluate your case.

Additional Resources

About The Author: Tara L. Umbrino is a personal injury attorney practicing with the law firm of Allen & Allen in the Stafford location. Her practice is focused exclusively on personal injury cases including car and motorcycle accidentsbicycle accidentsdog bites and chasesmedical malpracticeslip and falls, mold inhalation and exposure, and wrongful death.


[1] Virginia Department of Health, Division of Environmental Epidemiology, Frequent Questions About Mold.

[2] Virginia Department of Health, Division of Environmental Epidemiology, Frequent Questions About Mold.

[3] Virginia Department of Health, Division of Environmental Epidemiology, Frequent Questions About Mold; World Health Organization, Health Effects Associated with Dampness and Mould, pp 67-68.

[4] Virginia Department of Health, Division of Environmental Epidemiology, Frequent Questions About Mold.

[5] Center for Disease Control, CDC – Mold – General Information – Basic Facts, http://www.cdc.gov/mold/faqs.htm#doctor.

Tel : (804) 353-1200
Fax : (804) 257-7599
37.580754 -77.493777
Tel : (804) 733-8753
Fax : (804) 733-8767
37.225366 -77.406431
Tel : (804) 746-4900
Fax : (804) 746-2315
37.609968 -77.353275
Tel : (540) 786-4100
Fax : (540) 786-9585
38.292658 -77.522033
Tel : (804) 836-1170
Fax : (804) 836-1189
37.65165 -77.615287
Tel : (540) 657-9222
Fax : (540) 657-9522
38.476396 -77.421376
Tel : (804) 745-1200
Fax : (804) 745-8997
37.410489 -77.648702
Tel : (434) 295-4961
Fax : (434) 284-4299
38.087828 -78.471035