All About Mold: From What We Can Eat to What’s Toxic
Mention the word “mold” in the presence of a party crowd, and chances are you’ll see a lot of tightening facial muscles. Perhaps someone will walk away, intent on finding a better conversation elsewhere. That’s okay! Most people don’t realize that some of the best things in life (and okay, some of the worst) are derived from mold! The following will give you a better understanding of what mold can do for you, and what mold you should avoid at all costs–because it’ll kill you.
Cheese is a dairy product derived from milk, and most people love it. If you’re a francophile, though, then there a strong possibility you’re a big fan of mold as well. After all, some of the most exquisite cheeses produced around the world are injected with a fair bit of mold with a controlled growth and decay. Yummy! If you’re a bleu cheese lover, then guess what: those little bits of blue are actually mold. The rind part of most white cheeses is formed from mold as well. Don’t be too squeamish about leaving most cheese out of the fridge, either. The food was basically invented as something that could be naturally preserved over long periods of time.
Mold can actually keep you alive, assuming it’s the right kind. Penicillium mold is a necessary ingredient for the accidentally discovered antibiotic penicillin, which kills a lot of the deadly bacteria that threaten our well being every day. If you’ve had any kind of infection, chances are you may have been treated with a drug derived from this kind of mold. Then again, a lot of people are allergic to penicillin–so you may still want to take care when you’re at the doctor’s office!
If you don’t clean your bathroom properly, then you may have experienced what most people refer to as black mold. More often, you might have heard it called toxic mold. In the scientific community, it’s better known as stachybotrys chartarum. While it is generally associated with a number of health problems, the spores are easy to see and kill with the right chemicals in hand. Black mold is only dangerous if inhaled, which is why the medical issues are usually respiratory in nature. You might experience coughing, wheezing, or typical allergy symptoms like a runny nose, sore throat, red eyes, or sneezing. Because these symptoms can be associated with so many other health problems, you should see your health care provider if you experience any. It’ll get much, much worse if you don’t.
There you have it. Mold can be dangerous, but it’s like bacteria: most of it is harmless, while much of the rest can be harnessed by the powers of science for the betterment of mankind and cheese connoisseurs everywhere.