Michael ... This is one of the most understandable and easy to read articles that I have seen regarding the issue of mold.
We live in a desert and thought that we were spared from this threat until recently. There are little spores everywhere and to be educated to the threat is a good beginning
Thanks for a great post!
Different species of fungi have been present since the dawn of time affecting human health.
In fact, the adverse health effects of fungal exposure are mentioned throughout ancient writings. However, it wasn't until relatively recently that the scientific community has identified mold and other fungi as a possible cause responsible for human's adverse health effects. Today, certain fungi and mold are known to the scientific and medical world to be responsible for allergies, hypersensitivity pneumonitis, humidifier fever, infections, mushroom poisoning, mycotoxicoses, mucous membrane irritation, and many other ailments. A few examples of fungi/mold species that can be hazardous to the health of humans include:
Mycotoxins are poisonous substances that are produced by fungi. They are one reason for the adverse health effects that molds have on humans. They occur when humans inhale or ingest fungal spores. Mycotoxins tend to concentrate in fungal spores, and thus present a potential hazard to those who inhale these airborne spores. Toxigenic spores can have a significant affect on the function of the alveolar macrophage and be a health hazard to those exposed. Dangerous mold species include Stachybotrys atra, Aspergillus versicolor, and several toxigenic species of Penicillium.
Health Effects of Toxic Molds
Although mold affects individuals differently and to different degrees, the following are some of the most common adverse health effects.
- Respiratory problems---wheezing, difficulty in breathing
- Nasal and sinus congestion
- Eyes-burning, watery, reddened, blurry vision, light sensitivity
- Dry, hacking cough
- Sore throat
- Nose and throat irritation
- Shortness of breath and lung disease
- Chronic fatigue
- Skin irritation
- Central nervous system problems (constant headaches, loss of memory, and mood changes)
- Aches and pains
- Immune suppression
Research on Toxic Mold
There has been quite a lot of literature detailing specific case studies of mold contaminating human habitats. Finally in the early '90s, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) began to study material properties, temperatures, and ecological niches that allowed fungi and mold to thrive. One of the results discovered was that high humidity played a very important role to the growth of mold. However, even small amounts of moisture can foster the development of certain mold cultures. Other fairly toxic species need a lot of moisture and lots of materials that contain cellulose in order to promote growth.
Recent case studies have revealed even greater rates of poisonous fungal species in poorly maintained structures with water damage or moisture problems. While only a small number of molds and fungi are considered toxic and allergenic, species such as Stachybotrys atra (S. atra) have been directly linked to numerous cases of hemorrhagic lung disease in infants.
Within the last two decades, there has been significant progress on dealing with the dangers associated with damp, moist, and wet indoor environments. As science and medicine continue to expand our knowledge of the effects of toxic mold, everyone is becoming much more aware of indoor air quality issues.