Crawl spaces are an integral part of your home, even though they are often out of sight. And because they’re often hidden away, they’re rarely visited and paid attention to. As such, they often face excessive crawl space moisture issues like mold and dry rot. Aside from those, high humidity in your crawl space can also attract pests and encourage bacterial growth.
The troubling part is that all these problems can affect you and your family’s health since most of the indoor air you breathe in your home comes from your crawl space. If that area is neglected, you can be breathing in mold, fungi, and pathogens without you noticing. Let’s take a closer look at how crawl space moisture can impact your health.
Allergies, Asthma, and Other Respiratory Problems
Moisture is one of the key elements to make the perfect environment for mold and mildew growth, which can pose a significant risk to your overall health. The spores and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) released by these fungi can circulate in your indoor air and cause a variety of health conditions.
People exposed to mold and mildew may experience allergic reactions such as sneezing, coughing, and watery eyes. Prolonged exposure can worsen respiratory conditions like asthma and allergies.
Additionally, individuals with weakened immune systems or pre-existing respiratory conditions are more susceptible to the adverse health effects of mold and mildew. Therefore, it is crucial to address any mold or mildew issues promptly to safeguard one’s health.
Sick Building Syndrome
Sick building syndrome refers to a series of nonspecific symptoms and illnesses you may get while you’re inside a building, whether residential or commercial. The occupants may experience acute effects often related to how long they’re inside. Some symptoms commonly associated with sick building syndrome include headaches, nausea, irritation of the eyes, nose, and throat, dizziness, and many more.
Since excessive crawl space moisture creates an ideal environment for a host of fungi and pathogens to grow, it’s no surprise that occupants of a building may experience a range of symptoms and health issues. Aside from spores and VOCs, some types of mold even produce mycotoxins, which can cause more severe health problems ranging from skin irritation to neurological issues.
As mentioned earlier, excessive crawl space moisture attracts pests, and these critters may bring and spread a long list of diseases in your home. They often carry harmful bacteria and viruses that can severely impact your health.
For example, houseflies, cockroaches, and rats are known carriers of salmonella and E. coli, among other microorganisms. If they’re present in your home, they can come into contact with your food, causing symptoms like diarrhea, stomach cramps, nausea, and others.
These unwanted animals could also be infested with other pests including fleas, ticks, lice, and mites, among others. Fleas, for example, can feed on rodents and then move onto humans and pets, causing skin irritation and transmitting diseases such as murine typhus.
In addition, some pests like mice and other rodents will leave behind their droppings and urine wherever they want. If a person inhales their excrement, they may get infected by hantaviruses, causing a disease known as Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome. At first, the person may experience fevers, muscle aches, and fatigue. If not treated immediately, the symptoms may worsen over time.
Radon is a naturally occurring gas that is odorless, colorless, and radioactive. It’s often released from rocks and soil. Radon can get into your home through small holes under your crawl space. Excessive moisture and high humidity in your crawl space are often leading causes of radon buildup.
Radon typically disperses quickly outside. But when there’s too much moisture in your crawl space, it creates an environment perfect for the gas to accumulate and circulate within your home. This increases your risk of prolonged exposure. Because radon is a known carcinogen, inhaling it for an extended period can lead to a higher chance of developing lung cancer.
Properly managing moisture is essential to protect your overall health. As such, it’s best to inspect your crawl space from time to time to avoid experiencing any of the health-related problems associated with it.