HSSE SAFETY BULLETIN: Snow Mold

Spring is here, but you’re just not feeling good and can’t figure out why? Snow mold may be the culprit!

What Is It?

Snow mold is a type of fungus that is dormant during the warmer months. Snow mold is a term given to visible evidence of a fungus that is always present in lawns, including Coprinus Psychromorbidus (cottony snow mold), Microdochium Nivale aka Fusarium Nivale (pink snow mold), Myriosclerotina Borealis aka Sclerotinia Borealis (Sclerotina snow mold) and Typhula Ishikariensis (grey or speckled snow mold). Snow mold can look like cobwebs covering the ground and can lead to circular patches of dead grass that vary in color from bronze-pink to a fuzzy white,
It does not grow in the winter because of the cold and dry air prevents it from expanding. The mold begins to infect plants when gradually warming temperatures or brief warm spells cause the snow to melt, providing the fungi with the moisture it needs to survive.

How It Affects You:

Hay fever symptoms such as coughing, nasal congestion and burning eyes could be a sign you’re allergic to snow mold or other fungi present during spring. Snow mold releases spores that can be present in the air.
Mold allergies and allergic rhinitis, affect about 10 to 20 percent of the population.

How to Prevent it:

The best way to prevent the possibility of snow mold is to assist the snow to melt faster. One way to do this is to spread snowdrifts out instead of leaving them piled up. Preparation can also help you combat future snow mold. In the fall avoid mulching the lawn, cut the grass short and get rid of damp leaves helps to prevent snow mold.

Symptoms May Include:

  • Nasal Congestion
  • Itchy Eyes, Nose, and Throat
  • Coughing
  • Trouble Sleeping
  • Runny Nose
  • Headaches
  • Wheezing
  • Violent and Repeated Sneezing

When experiencing symptoms, over the counter allergy medicine will assist with symptom reduction, but the best solution is to limit your exposure when possible.

Additional Resources:

http://blog.lung.ca/2013/04/the-facts-about-snow-mould/
http://www.mgaab.org/8-articles/55-snow-mould

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