When moldy materials becomes damaged or disturbed, spores are released into the air. Exposure can occur if you inhale the spores, directly handle moldy materials, or accidentally ingest the mold. Certain molds produce chemicals called mycotoxins (myco = fungus, toxin = harmful or poisonous substance) and mold volatile organic compounds (irritating chemicals released into the air = “musty odor”). These may cause illnesses in individuals sensitive to the chemicals or who are immunocomprised, or who have become sensitive after long-term exposure to mold.