Health Effects of Mold

Many have heard about “toxic mold” that caused bleeding lung syndrome in some children in Cleveland. This “toxic mold” was identified as Stachybotrys chartarum (or S. atra). It is a mycotoxin producer, and can thus be called toxigenic. However, no conclusive link was made between the cases of bleeding lung in Cleveland and the presence of “Stachy”. It has never been proven how much mycotoxin a person must breath to be adversely affected. For obvious reasons it is a hard thing to test. First of all finding willing subjects is difficult and second we are all different. When it comes to mold we all react differently. What may prove a tolerant level of mold spores or mycotoxin for me may be completely unacceptable for you. You may have a sensitivity to certain species of mold that others find completely tolerable. Like all allergens we all react differently to mold. For example, you’ve probably heard of a person who never new he was allergic to bees. He was stung once, and no effect. He was stung twice and still no effect. But the third time, or maybe the 6th time, or maybe the 13th time he began to go into anaphylactic shock, and was raced to the hospital. Ever since that day, that person goes nowhere without his Epi shot. What happened on the 6th time or the 13th time? That was the time when his body no longer tolerated that poison or allergen. This is a basic reason why no one can say which molds are good and which are bad. It is also why no one knows what is an acceptable limit of mold spores or mycotoxin for the common person to breath. Notice what a recent paper from the University of Conn. had to say about the health effects of mold:

The majority of reactions to mold and moisture in the environment are allergic in nature and manifest themselves as asthma or allergic rhinitis. Delayed hypersensitivity is not uncommon and often less well recognized and manifests as chronic rhinitis, sinusitis, or hypersensitivity pneumonitis. Moisture in buildings has been associated with an irritant symptom complex: headache, drowsiness, occasionally coughs, dermatitis, and most often burning and irritation of the eyes, nose, and throat. The term “sick building syndrome” is commonly used to describe these irritant symptoms if they resolve, sometimes immediately, without long-term consequences, after the person leaves the environment.
Although toxic syndromes are not well defined from inhalation exposure of mold or mold products in indoor environments, many patience and some physicians have attributed cognitive and other neurological syndromes to mold exposures. There is no consensus as to the nature, pathophysiology, or etiology of these syndromes. – Guidance for Clinicians on the Recognition of Health Effects Related to Mold Exposure and Moisture Indoors (University of Connecticut Health Center, Division of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, Center for Indoor Environments and Health)

So what does this mean for you, living in a building that contains mold? Basically, you need to fix the cause of your dampness and stop the moisture intrusion. Then, you need to get rid of the mold in a safe manner so as not to spread the contaminants and thus adversely affect the health of others. There are certain molds like Stachybotrys chartarum, species of Aspergillus, and Penicillium that we know have more adverse effects on people than the more common kinds of mold. When we find these species in your interior space we are especially concerned that they be remediated or cleaned. This report will contain a Remediation Action Plan or “Protocol” to explain how this can be safely accomplished. As your indoor environmental consultants we are always happy to answer any questions or oversee any project you may have as a result of our findings. If you have been experiencing building related symptoms we encourage you to share the information in this report with your doctor or respiratory specialists, to help determine the best way of treating you. We are sure your doctor will agree that you have already taken the most important step, and that is to identify and remove the mold from your indoor environment. We are happy to have been of service to you.

– Spencer Hampy CIE, CMC
– President Oasis Indoor Environmental, Inc.

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