Visual Contrast Sensitivity Test
Another test used for toxic mold syndrome diagnosis is the Visual Contrast Sensitivity test . This test can be done online for a minimal fee of 8 dollars per test and I highly recommend it. Follow the link below:
THE STAGES OF BIOTOXIN ILLNESS
Stage 1: The Biotoxic Effect
You are exposed to biotoxic mold and your immune system doesnot respond appropriately to remove the foreign invader. Why you do not respond probably has a genetic cause. Get an HLA DR DQ test to determine if you are genetically susceptible to toxic mold.
Stage 2: Cytokine Effects
Cytokines are cell signaling molecules that aid incommunication during immune responses and stimulate the movement of cellstoward sites of inflammation. Symptoms in this stage might include headachesmuscle aches, flu-like symptoms, fatigue, unstable temperature and difficultyconcentrating. Tests included for stage two include:
How To Check For Toxic Mold
Until a year ago, when I was diagnosed with Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome , I had never given much thought to checking any building or living space for mold. Since learning what to look for, however, its almost like Ive developed a ninth sense for mold , or perhaps a slight obsession. While not a glamorous superpower by any means, I certainly appreciate the health benefits. My hope is that this post can be helpful to you and your health regardless if youre looking for a new home, checking your current home, or scoping out the Airbnb you booked to help.
Lets start with a quick review of how mold grows. It needs oxygen, food , and moisture. We cant control oxygen or food, but moisture is the factor we want to avoid. Moisture on wood and drywall creates the perfect conditions for toxic mold to thrive. Some of the places to check might have obvious fungal growth, but many of the places will simply show signs of water damage, indicating a potential mold problem hidden behind the wall, floor, or ceiling. If youre searching for a new home, depending on the extent of the water damage you find, you can decide if its worth it to formally test with an ERMI or walk away. If some of these terms are unfamiliar, visit this post to familiarize yourself with the mold basics.
Without further ado, here are some of the most important places to check for mold:
Only People With Weakened Immune Systems Can Get Sick From Water Damaged Buildings
Incorrect. While exposure to toxic mold may cause acute illness in those with preexisting conditions that weaken the immune system, almost anyone can get sick from long-term exposure to biotoxins. If no genetic susceptibility exists and the person is removed from exposure, symptoms should eventually resolve.
Case studies looking at teachers who saw the reversal of symptoms after leaving water damaged school buildings each year for summer vacation show how the body is able to eliminate toxins after its no longer repeatedly exposed. Avoiding the affected environment allowed their bodies to catch up and eliminate the toxic load from their systems.
This is not true for people who are genetically susceptible, as their immune systems are unable to recognize and remove biotoxins from the body. The biotoxins are unchecked, free to recirculate practically forever, causing system-wide inflammation. Many times, the inflammation caused by CIRS is misdiagnosed as:
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How Mycotoxins Affect Your Body
Like mold spores themselves, mycotoxins are often airborne and enter your body through your respiratory tract. In the short term, this can cause a number of respiratory symptoms including asthma, allergies, sinus infections, and cold- and flu-like symptoms.
If you have a leaky gut, mycotoxins may also pass through your intestinal wall and travel throughout your bloodstream to your skin, brain, and other organs. This can lead to mycotoxins symptoms in any part of your body such as eczema, psoriasis, anxiety, brain fog, and autoimmunity.
One way mycotoxins wreak havoc on your health is by adversely affecting your cells mitochondria. Mitochondria are the powerhouses of your cells, making them essential to nearly every bodily function. They provide your cells with energy. Thats why you can experience chronic fatigue or weakness when dealing with mycotoxin poisoning.
When mitochondria are not functioning optimally, they release free radicals, which are unstable atoms that can cause cell damage. This cell damage, in turn, causes inflammation. The more inflammation you have, the higher up on the autoimmune spectrum you are. This is why its so challenging for autoimmune patients to reverse their symptoms while dealing with mycotoxin poisoning.
Is Mycotoxin Testing Worth It
Mycotoxin testing can be helpful in some cases, but there are a number of points to consider before jumping in.
- Mycotoxicity is not well defined. Research on mycotoxin testing is still in its infancy. This means that even those who study mycotoxins or mold for a living dont know exactly how to interpret mycotoxin test results. This doesnt necessarily mean that test results cant be useful they should always be taken with a grain of salt.
- Choosing the best test is challenging. There are many different kinds of mycotoxin and mold tests available, using not only different methods but different reference ranges, and even looking at different kinds of mold species and mycotoxins. This makes an area that is already lacking in research even more confusing.
- Mold can be a red herring. Mold or mycotoxins may show up in small quantities on tests, even if the levels are likely not problematic. This can be a distraction from true underlying health issues that need to be addressed.
- Mold-related illnesses are complex. Even as we begin to untangle the nuances in testing, there is a lack of consensus when it comes to the treatment of mold-related illnesses and mycotoxicity. In other words, mycotoxin testing might provide clues to treatments, but it does not provide a road map.
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What Is Mold Toxicity
Mold toxicity is illness caused by exposure to mold spores and mold biotoxins. As the word implies, biotoxins are toxic substances made by biological organisms, like molds or bacteria.
Mold toxicity is widely recognized as a cause of symptoms or illness in animals and people from exposure to moldy foods but has also come to suggest illness caused by mold growth in water-damaged buildings.
However, whether people can become chronically ill from long-term exposure to airborne mold particulates and biotoxins indoors is controversial .
Brain Spect Imaging Helps Treat Brain Toxicity Caused By Black Mold
Kimberlyn had booked a Full Evaluation, which took two days to complete. She filled out multiple questionnaires and history forms, talked to specialized counselors, and finally had a set of SPECT images taken of her brain. Just to really see exactly what was happening to my brain in the SPECT scans and that I do have a toxic injury due to mold was amazing, said Kimberlyn. They did such a good job with all of the evaluations, and they were so thorough. By the end of the second day, Dr. Arsalan Darmal had a whole binder of material that discussed the results of the testing I had done while I was there.
Dr. Darmal and the staff at Amen Clinics Orange County, CA discovered that Kimberlyn also had ADHD and a previous traumatic brain injury that was increasing the effects of the mold injury. When my brain swelled from the mold exposure, I was getting almost no blood flow to my prefrontal cortex, explained Kimberlyn.
Co-occurring conditions that can increase the effects of an injury or illness on the brain are common, yet can be easily overlooked. Kimberlyn was shocked to hear that the brain injury she had suffered in high school was impacting her life today and even more surprised that she had ADHD. The medication for ADHD has made a huge difference in my productivity and ability to focus. That was like the bonus prize that I wasnt even expecting, said Kimberlyn.
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Your Eyes Are Watery And Stinging
People can have allergic reactions to mold, explains Purvi Parikh, MD, an allergist/immunologist with Allergy & Asthma Network. The symptoms can include itchy and watery eyes, coughing, and nasal congestion. If you suspect mold is triggering these symptoms, the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology suggests you track your reactions for two weeks to see if they kick in when youre in certain rooms or spaces within your house. You can also visit an allergist for a blood or skin test to confirm the allergy.
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Assess Exposure Risk Level
To ascertain the level of risk associated with exposure to mold, it is necessary to determine whether mold is present and the type of mold that is growing. Mold may be allergenic or toxigenic, and may have different effects on individuals based on immunological and genetic sensitivities.
Allergenic mold may have the most significant effect on sensitive or immunocompromised occupants of an infested residential or commercial structure. Ongoing exposure to mold may cause some individuals who do not initially have an inflammatory response to mold spores or mVOCs to develop allergies.
Toxigenic mold poses a risk to humans and animals who breathe in contaminated air. If a home or professional mold test indicates that a toxic form of Stachybotrys chartarum or any other type of harmful fungus is growing in a structure, immediate containment and remediation should take place to reduce occupants risk of experiencing health effects.
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How To Test For Toxic Mold
If you have mold in your home, your nose is one of the most inexpensive devises you can use to detect it. Mold smells, and chances are, you’ll be able to detect the distinctive odor that taints the air around moldy walls, carpeting and other objects. The struggle is in understanding when mold is dangerous to your family or home.
The term toxic mold is a little confusing. Some molds, like Stachybotrys chartarum or black mold, produce mycotoxins, toxic substances that cause health problems in some people. There is no direct link yet between mold-produced toxins and serious conditions like idiopathic pulmonary hemorrhage in infants, but there are concerns that exposure to these toxins can exacerbate existing lung conditions and allergies, and possibly cause problems in otherwise healthy people. Common molds that aren’t considered toxic also have the potential to cause reactions in some people, which makes it important to get rid of any type of mold you find in your home as soon as possible, particularly if you suspect that someone in your family is having a reaction to it.
Mold can be scary. There are potential health implications for your family, and a mold outbreak can take a financial toll, too. Once established, mold can be very invasive, releasing millions of spores into your home. Many homeowners’ insurance policies now exclude or limit coverage for mold related problems.
First up, let’s learn a little more about household mold.
Dont Let Mold Interfere With Restoring Your Health
Mold is everywhere in the environment. Indoor exposure to toxic mold can trigger inflammation and cause immune dysregulation that causes multiple symptoms in multiple systems of the body. This makes mold illness difficult to diagnose. Physicians rarely look for environmental causes of illness so they do not ask patients about exposures such as mold. If you are suffering from multiple chronic symptoms or have been diagnosed with Lyme disease, or an autoimmune or neurological condition without a known cause, find a physician with expertise in mold illness so you can get properly tested.
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What To Do If Your Home Is Mold
First, you need to identify the source of water intrusion and fix it. A leaky roof or pipe will only create more issues after mold remediation.
Fixing an extensive mold problem is best left to professionals. When you disturb-mold infested materials, the spores and toxins spread like dandelion seeds in the wind. Attempting to tackle it yourself could make a bad problem much worse.
When looking for a professional mold remediator, some of the questions you should ask are:
- Are you certified in mold remediation? Examples of major certifying groups are the American Council for Accredited Certification and the Institute of Inspection, Cleaning, and Restoration Certification .
- How do you document your work? This should include photos of damaged areas. The company should also provide an itemized cost estimate before starting.
- How do you contain mold-contaminated areas? This generally includes using thick plastic sheeting to seal off the moldy area. Remediators also use indoor air scrubbers with high-efficiency particulate air filters. These should be vented to the outdoors.
- How do you clean your equipment? Besides air scrubbers, remediators also use HEPA vacuums. Ask what measures they take to avoid contaminating your house with their equipment. Do they change HEPA filters between jobs and sanitize their equipment?
- How do you dispose of moldy material? The moldy debris should be double-bagged before removing it from the building.
Reasons To Do Mold Clearance Testing
Testing an environment where mold exposure has occurred after cleanup to ensure that levels remain low is necessary to be sure that the remediation process is complete. Even after cleanup is over, it is often necessary to adjust indoor conditions to make it less likely that any spores that remain present will resume growth.
When a residential or commercial property owner is regularly cleaning mold-prone surfaces, contents and materials and maintaining low humidity levels indoors, a clearance test can determine whether these measures are sufficient to keep mold infestations at bay. If spore or mVOC levels remain elevated, additional remediation measures, including tearing out and replacing contaminated building materials or replacing contents, may be necessary to solve a persistent mold problem.
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Proper Testing For Mold Illness
Physicians that specialize in mold illness have narrowed in on tests that are most effective in determining if mold is an underlying cause of someones symptoms. Before considering laboratory tests, there is often a clinical suspicion someone may be suffering from symptoms of mold exposure.
When someone is experiencing any of the above symptoms and no other diagnosis has been made that explains these symptoms mold illness should be considered. There is also the circumstance when someone has another diagnosis such as Lyme disease, but treatments have not been effective in resolving symptoms.
There is no one perfect test to diagnose mold toxicity. I use the two testing methods below to determine if mold and mycotoxins are undermining someones health.
Urine Mycotoxin Test
A urine mycotoxin test indicates whether or not a person is excreting mycotoxins from mold exposure. However, our bodies should excrete mycotoxins after exposure to mold and this does not necessarily mean someone has mold illness. The degree of elevation of mycotoxins in the urine suggests the severity of mold toxicity.
Great Plains Laboratory and Real Time Laboratory are the labs most commonly used by physicians treating mold toxicity. The two labs use different testing methodologies and test for different mycotoxins, so it is hard to compare results between the labs.
Preparation for urine mycotoxin testing
Mycotoxin Antibody Test
Testing Your Home For Toxic Mold
Remember too, that mold testing is not mycotoxin testing. While there is some value in testing your home for mold, its important to recall that molds are a natural and necessary part of our environment. While mold may be growing in your home as a result of water damage that should be fixed, these molds are not necessarily creating mycotoxins and also dont necessarily have any adverse health effects.
1. ERMI Test
The illnesses associated with mycotoxin poisoning have become such a well-recognized issue that the Environmental Protection Agency has developed a research tool called the Environmental Relative Moldiness Index . Dust samples are collected in a home and DNA from mold in the dust is analyzed. The sample is then compared to the ERMI, an index or scale.
The analysis can be used to determine the amount of mold in an environment, as well as the types of mold. From there you can tell if the mold thats present is the type that can produce mycotoxins.
You can hire a company to do this, or use one of the many kits. Some of these include professional evaluation of the results and some you compare to a chart. Your best results will come from hiring a professional, however, that is also the more expensive option.
Remember that it is not necessarily the amount of mold that can cause problems, it is the type.
2. Spore Capture Test
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Testing Yourself For Mycotoxins
In terms of mycotoxin testing, I always started with the patient first. I recommend using a urine test from RealTime Labs. It tests for 15 specific types of mycotoxins in seven families that may be in your body:
Now, if you DO test positive for mycotoxin poisoning and you are a stay-at-home parent or work in your home, you can be pretty confident the toxic environment is your home since that is where you spend most of your time.
However, if you split your time equally between work and home , it can be tricky to determine which is the toxic environment. Unfortunately, if you live and work in a humid region where toxic mold is more common , both your home and your workplace may be contributing to the problem. There may even be more than one type of mycotoxins produced by different types of toxic mold in these two environments.
Instant Mold Test 1795
Economical and Easy to Use! This instant home mold testing kit is inexpensive and easy to use. With this test you can find out immediately if something in your house that looks like mold is actually mold. This test looks like a pen. Simply remove the swab from the pen and swab the area in question.
It could be a black, green or whitish area on wood, drywall, carpet, cement, stone or a painted surface.
Return the swab to the pen and push the swab into the fluid in the pens tip and wait 10 minutes.
There is a chemical in the capsule that turns purple in the presence of mold. If it does not turn purple, it’s not mold. If it does turn purple you have mold. It is as simple as that. Within a few moments you will know if the area in question is in fact growing mold.
If it stays green it is not mold.
MANUFACTURED BY 3M, A VERY REPUTABLE COMPANY!!!
Then, if your sample tests positive for mold, included in the test kit are tape lifts that you can use to take another sample of the mold. This sample can be sent off to IMS labs for further analysis to determine what type of mold it is. The cost of the tape lift analysis is 30.00 per sample and is completely optional.
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