Also please read:
Exposure to Mold Infestation Is a Proven and Serious Health Threat to
Residents and Workers
by Phillip Fry,
Many property owners, landlords, employers,
and mold victim relatives in Canada, the USA, and worldwide often question
or minimize the proven and serious health threat arising from exposure to
elevated levels of indoor mold infestation, according to Phillip Fry,
Certified Mold Inspector,
Certified Mold Remediator, and author of the
Mold Health Guide.
Mold’s Harmful Effects
“All molds have the potential to cause health effects.
Molds can produce allergens that can trigger allergic reactions or even
asthma attacks in people allergic to mold. Others are known to produce
potent toxins and/or irritants,” according to the US Environmental
Protection Agency (EPA)
A number of commonly found mold species are, in fact, toxic mold, a
description applied to any mold that produces mycotoxins in its spores.
Stachybotrys (black mold), Aspergillus, and Penicillium are three of the
most dangerous and commonly found indoor toxic molds.
Mycotoxins are cytotoxic, meaning they have the capacity to pass
through the human cellular wall and disrupt certain cellular processes –
potentially causing serious health damage to workers and customers.
Studies on animals and cell cultures in labs have found toxic effects from
various microbial agents, raising concerns about whether these same agents
growing in buildings can cause illness in people, according to the 2004 mold
health report from the Institute of Medicine (U.S. Government’s National
Academy of Sciences).
Mold Health Symptoms
Fungi can cause health problems to both humans and animals by several
different biological mechanisms: infections, allergic or hypersensitivity
reactions, irritant reactions, or toxic reactions---reported a 2004
University of Connecticut Health Center report
If exposed to elevated levels of indoor mold, some or many residents and
workers can experience one or more of most common, mold health symptoms:
allergies, asthma, bleeding lungs, breathing difficulties, cancer, central
nervous system problems, recurring colds, chronic coughing, coughing up with
blood, dandruff problems (chronic) that do not go away despite use of
anti-dandruff shampoos, dermatitis, skin rashes, diarrhea, and/or;
Eye and vision problems, fatigue (chronic, excessive,
or continued) and/or general malaise, flu symptoms (chronic), sudden hair
loss, headaches, hemorrhagic pneumonitis, hives, hypersensitivity
pneumonitis, irritability, itching (of the nose, mouth, eyes, throat, skin
or any other area), kidney failure, learning difficulties or mental
dysfunction or personality changes, memory loss or memory difficulties;
Open skin sores and lacerations, peripheral nervous
system effects, redness of the sclera (white of your eyes), runny nose
(rhinitis) or thick, green slime coming out of nose (from sinus cavities),
seizures, sinus congestion, sinus problems, and chronic sinusitis, skin
redness, sleep disorders, sneezing fits, sore throat, tremors (shaking),
verbal dysfunction (trouble in speaking), vertigo (feelings of dizziness,
lightheadedness, faintness and unsteadiness), and vomiting.
Mold Health Studies
“Where is the proof?” ask skeptical moldy home sellers,
landlords, employers, and unaffected relatives of mold victims. There is
actually abundant evidence about the serious impact of mycotoxins and mold
exposure in human disease.
Medical studies in both the military and agricultural environments have
discovered that that significant health problems can readily arise from the
inhalation of elevated levels of fungal spores and toxins by soldiers and
Laboratory studies in animals and at the cellular level provide supporting
evidence for direct toxicity of fungal spores and mycotoxins in mammalian
lungs (University of Connecticut Health Center report in 2004)
As to asthma (one of the most common health consequences of mold exposure),
a health study by the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health links
adult-onset asthma to workplace mold exposure---
“The present (health study) results estimated that the
percentage of adult-onset asthma attributable to workplace mold exposure to
indoor molds and development of asthma in adulthood. Our findings suggest
that indoor mold problems constitute an important occupational health
The Finnish workplace mold study estimated that the
percentage of adult-onset asthma attributable to workplace mold exposure to
be 35% (Reported in Environmental Health Perspectives, May,
A European Community respiratory health survey in 2002
reported that asthma patients experience more significant asthma symptoms
after they become sensitized to molds such as Alternaria and Cladosporium
species, and to dust mites.
Scientific evidence links mold and other factors
related to damp conditions in homes and buildings to asthma symptoms in some
people with the chronic asthma, as well as to coughing, wheezing, and upper
respiratory tract symptoms in otherwise healthy people, stated the Institute
of Medicine report.
“We were able to find sufficient evidence that certain
respiratory problems, including symptoms in asthmatics who are sensitive to
mold, are associated with exposure to mold and damp conditions. Excessive
dampness influences whether mold, as well as bacteria, dust mites and other
such agents, are present and thrive indoors,” reported the Institute of
Medicine in its mold health report on May 25, 2004.
“In addition, the wetness may cause chemicals and
particles to be released from building materials. A rare ailment known as
hypersensitivity pneumonitis also was associated with indoor mold exposure
in susceptible people,” reported the Institute of Medicine.
studies have confirmed what scientists have suspected for years: that asthma
is an immune system reaction to dust, pollution and other allergens [e.g.,
airborne mold spores] in the environment, which trigger spasms and
tightening of the airways of some people who also have a genetic
predisposition," reported Newsweek, "Waiting to Inhale," March
Medical research has recently discovered that babies, while still in the
uterus or as infants after birth, can suffer lifetime asthma from exposure
to pollutants. The Newsweek article noted that:
"Now [researchers are] zeroing in on the genetic vulnerability. The
new thinking is that asthma isn't simply a matter of having the wrong
genes. Instead, at some point in early childhood, or possibly in the womb,
an event takes place that turns a person into a lifetime asthmatic."
"Scientists think the fetus or infant is somehow exposed to a critical dose
of pollutants that cause the immune system to overreact, permanently
narrowing the airways and making them more sensitive to irritants. It
might be possible to inoculate children against the condition before this
even occurs, preventing asthma entirely." added the Newsweek
A 1994 Harvard University School of Public Health study
of 10, 000 homes in the United States and Canada found that half had
conditions of water damage and mold, which was associated in the study with
a 50 to 100% increase in respiratory problems for the residents of water and
mold damaged homes.
Dr. David Sherris of the Mayo Clinic conducted (1999) a
study of 210 patients with chronic sinus infections and found that most had
allergic fungal sinusitis. The prevailing medical opinion had been [prior to
the Mayo Clinic study] that mold accounted for only 6 to 7% of all chronic
sinusitis. The Mayo Clinic Proceedings reported on Sept. 13,
“Researchers have found that chronic sinusitis, a condition that affects
about 37 million people in the United States, is apparently caused by an
immune response to fungus (mold).
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) found an apparent
link, announced in 1997, between mold contamination in the homes and cases
of infant pulmonary hemorrhage.
The American Academy for Pediatrics (AAP) Committee on Environmental Health
released a statement (April 6, 1998) concerning the toxic effects of indoor
molds and acute idiopathic pulmonary hemorrhage in infants.
The AAP recommended that until more information is available on the cause of
this condition, infants under one year of age should not be exposed to
chronically moldy, water-damaged environments.
The AAP also recommended that pediatricians inquire
about mold and water damage in the home when treating infants with pulmonary
hemorrhage, and that when mold is present in a patient’s home, that
pediatricians should encourage parents to try to find and eliminate sources
At the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center,
approximately 15-20% of patients with leukemia die of fungal leukemia caused
most frequently by the species Aspergillus.
In patients with leukemia who have undergone allogenic bone marrow
transplantation or allogenic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation, 15-30%
of deaths are caused by refractory fungal infections such as Aspergillus,
one of the most dangerous indoor molds.
In recent years, comparative risk studies performed by EPA and its Science
Advisory Board (SAB) have consistently ranked indoor air pollution among the
top five environmental risks to public health.
Ninety four percent (94%) of all respiratory ailments are caused by polluted
air according to the American Medical Association, which also reported that
one-third of the U.S.A. national health bill is for causes directly
attributable to indoor air pollution.
“Any person at risk from mold should not be in an area that is likely to be
contaminated with mold. If you or your family members have health problems
after exposure to mold, contact your doctor or other health care provider,”
advises the Centers for Disease Control.
Residents and workers often differ significantly (from
co-residents and co-workers) in their sensitivity and reaction to mold
exposure. Even the smell of mold can make some residents and workers sick.
Consequently, there are no federal standards or
recommendations, (e.g. Occupational Health and Safety Administration,
National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health, EPA and the Centers
for Disease Control) for airborne concentrations of mold or mold spores in
either the home or the workplace.
one or a few residents, employees, or customers experience one or more
possible mold health symptoms, the property owner, landlord or employer
should still inspect and mold test the residential or work premises for the
health protection of both the mold-sensitive residents and employees, as
well as others who may ultimately be harmed from time-cumulative mold
Homes and workplaces should be carefully and thoroughly mold inspected and
mold tested all around by a
Certified Mold Inspector,
Hygienist, or an
Industrial Hygienist if there are: (1) significant amounts
of visible mold; (2) serious water leaks, flooding problems, or high indoor
humidity; and (3) residents, employees, or business customers [such as hotel
guests] report experiencing one or
more possible mold health symptoms.
For more information about
mold health and coping
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