The leading cause of health problems associated with mold is the common mold allergy. Many who believe they are being poisoned by toxic molds are actually experiencing a mold allergy. Allergenic responses to molds as well as to other bio-allergens such as dust mite allergens, cat and dog allergens, and cock roach allergens can nevertheless be a serious concern and can result in mild to severe reactions that often get worse over time.
Symptoms of mold allergy
Mold allergy symptoms include:
- runny nose,
- watery eyes,
- itchy nose,
- itchy throat
- skin rashes
The institute of Medicine (1993) estimated that one in five Americans suffers from allergic rhinitis, the single most common chronic disease experienced by humans. Additionally, about 14% of the population suffers from allergy-related sinusitis, while 10 to 12% of Americans have allergically-related asthma. About 9% experience allergic dermatitis. (Institute of Medicine, 1993) and (Washington state Department of Health). We sometimes find that our clients are suffering from debilitating mold allergy reactions when living in moldy homes or working in moldy environments. People often realize after suffering for a few months or a few years, that it may be the mold causing their mysterious prolonged illness and that the situation is getting worse not better and that either they have to leave, or the mold has to go and the condition that caused the mold has to be revealed and corrected. Mold allergy is not the only problem.
Certain molds are known for causing infectious tissue diseases by invading and infecting human and animal tissues and mucous membranes. Mold-related sinus infections appear to be common in many persons living in mold contaminated homes. Eyes, ears, nose, throat, lungs, heart, brain and skin systems have documented infections due to molds. However, infections in these tissues typically only occurs in persons with a compromised immune system.
Many molds also have been shown to produce very scary toxic substances known as mycotoxins; mycotoxins are located primarily in the mold spores. These mycotoxins are produced by molds to help them compete with and kill other molds and microbes. It’s a type of biological warfare between molds and their competitors.
“Mycotoxins are believed to result in headaches, sore throats, hair loss, flu symptoms, diarrhea, fatigue, dermatitis, general malaise (tiredness) and psychological depression.” (Croft et al, 1986, Jarvis, 1995).
“Other reported responses to mycotoxin exposure includes skin rashes, lesions of the skin and gastrointestinal tract, and interference with blood cell formation.” (Sorenson 1993).
Many of the above are the results of lab animal and cell culture studies on toxic black mold also known as stachybotrys, and human and horse exposure to stachybotrys mold infested hay. It is very important to not panic and keep in mind that to accomplish the above serious detrimental effects toxic molds like Stachybotrys and others may have to be either:
- Consumed in mold contaminated foods.
- Physically handled so that excessive physical contact is made between human skin and the mold.
- Or the mycotoxins have to be exposed to living cells in the laboratory.
It may or may not be likely that toxic molds can cause the above detrimental effects when humans breathe in mold spores in the home. It is very difficult to gather scientifically reliable proof on the effects of breathing toxic mold spores in the home.
MUCOUS MEMBRANE AND TRIGEMINAL NERVE IRRITATION
Molds produce waste products made up of volatile organic compounds (VOC) such as alcohols aldehydes and acidic molecules after breaking down and absorbing food materials in our homes such as moist dust, and water damaged drywall paper, and wood. Exposure to volatile organic compounds may result in irritation to the eyes and the respiratory system. Volatile organic compounds and moldy pungent odors can also initiate avoidance reactions from the trigeminal nerve such as breath holding and discomfort. Odd sensations may also be noted including itching, burning, and skin crawling. Changes in sensation, swelling of mucous membranes, constriction of respiratory smooth muscle, or dilation of surface blood vessels may be triggered in response to trigeminal nerve stimulation. Decreased attention, disorientation, diminished reflex time, dizziness and other effects can also result from such exposures( Otto et al., 1989)
The presence of a small amount of even very toxic mold in your home is not necessarily need for immediate or irrational fear. It seems that most homes from my experience have some potentially toxic mold spores as do most outdoor environments. If unwarranted fear takes over, people become vulnerable to be taken advantage of by dishonest mold inspectors and dishonest mold remediators. It is wise to have your property tested and inspected by a non-biased professional mold allergy inspector to determine if concern is warranted and if and what corrective measures are needed.
This web site is designed for informational purposes only. It is not intended for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease. It is not a substitute for professional care. If you suspect you have a health problem, contact your doctor.