The Journey From Outdoor Mold Spore To Indoor Mold Problem
Whether out enjoying a hike or inside examining the grocery stores produce section, we are constantly transporting and breathing in tiny mold spores. An open window, a family pet or even your sneakers can bring outdoor spores to a new homeyour home or workplace.
These mold spores can be harmless. However, problems arise if the spores come in contact with a moisture source. Moisture lets the spores grow into mold that could affect health.
Most Common Indoor Molds
An olive black or greenish-black with a greyish white or light-colored border. Alternaria is commonly associated with agricultural products and soil, and known as the allergy fungus. Its typically found in the mouth, nose, and upper respiratory tract.
A significant component of mildew, Aspergillus, is also often found in pillows. Aspergillus has what is known as a foot cell, which makes the spores look like dandelions.
Olive green to black branching chains that usually do not produce odor. Most commonly associated with plant materials, living and dead.
Most commonly known for its role in the production of penicillin, a drug used to fight off bacteria. Often confused with a different species used to make blue cheese. Green in color, it resembles an old wooden house broom and may cause allergic responses.
Commonly known as black mold because of its greenish-black color. This species of mold grows on high-cellulose and low nitrogen materials. Stachybotrys can be found on gypsum board, paper, dust, fiberboard, or lint. Spore growth requires constant moisture and usually occurs from water damage, excessive humidity, condensation, water leaks, water infiltration, or flooding. Stachybotrys is a true pathogen fungus that most likely will cause illness in most people.
How Do You Test For Toxic Mold Exposure
All in all, there is no simple way to diagnose mycotoxin illness, says McElroy. But testing is typically the first step. She prefers to start patients with at-home tests and also recommends a home inspection by a certified mold inspector. should only be ordered, in my opinion, once the environment is evaluated for the source of mold, explains McElroy. The most direct way to test for mold toxicity is a urine test that measures for metabolites of mold and mycotoxins as well as glutathione levels . That said, as McElroy explains, I never place the entire diagnosis of mycotoxin illness on tests alone. Why? Because mold tests have some major drawbacks, including:
- False negatives and false positives are common
- They are not covered by insurance
- You cant test all toxins there are hundreds
- The levels found on tests dont necessarily correlate with the severity of symptoms
These tests clearly arent perfect. In fact, McElroy says she has seen patients who were really sick have almost nothing show up on the test while the healthy spouses of those same patients register values off the charts, so having a clinician thats willing and able to do some extra investigation into symptoms of mold and toxic mold exposure is key.
Don’t Miss: Moldy Ceiling In Bathroom
What Causes Mold Sickness
The toxins in your system from breathing in mold spores add to the total amount of toxicity in your body. We call this the Total Body Burden. When your burden is high, you start experiencing symptoms many which are seemingly unrelated.
For most people, toxins get flushed out from the body when eliminating waste.
For some, the toxic load is so high that its too much for the body to eliminate them all efficiently. For others, they may have poor detoxification processes or they may even recycle or reabsorb these mycotoxins back, as the body tries to eliminate them. Genetics plays a huge role in this difference from person to person
In short, multiple symptoms happen because, as we say in environmental medicine genetics points the gun, and then the environment pulls the trigger.
How To Test For Mold Inside Your Body
One reason mold is so harmful is the spores and mycotoxins create a domino effect, causing your bodys inflammatory response to go into overdrive. And some people are more vulnerable to these health effects than others.
About 24% of the population has a genetic susceptibility that prevents proper excretion of mycotoxins. In other words, once youve been exposed to mycotoxins they continue to recirculate in your body, resulting in an overactive immune response that disrupts many symptoms in the body.
If you suspect you have toxic mold symptoms or a mycotoxin illness traceable to exposure to a water-damaged building, seek help from an integrative physician who is knowledgeable about the health effects of mold.
Your doctor may run the following labs to test for mold:
- HLA DR 1-5 and DQ
Most of these labs are non-specific, so other medical conditions need to be ruled out. I have stopped routinely running the above blood tests as I do not find them very useful now that urine and other blood tests are more readily available, but nonetheless, many practitioners still run these to get a more complete picture of what may be going on.
Read Also: How To Stop Mold On Bathroom Ceiling
How To Clean Bathtub Mold Naturally
Mix one part hydrogen peroxide and another part water into a water bottle and spray the solution onto the mold. Or, mix one tablespoon of baking soda into a spray bottle of water. Spray either of these solutions and let it sit for a few minutes, then gently scrub away the stain and rinse it with water.
What About Tiny Mold Toxins Aka Mycotoxins
As mentioned above, though the Stachybotrys spores may be sticky and not easily airborne, there are other airborne contaminants to worry about: tiny fragments of mold and special toxins called mycotoxins. These contaminants may cause illness in those who are exposed, with mycotoxins being the most concerning.
You can think about mycotoxins as the molds defense: they are used for protection from environmental threats. Mycotoxins are minute organic compounds as small as 0.03 microns. These tiny molecules can stick to particles already floating through the air. Studies have found Stachybotrys mycotoxins on mold fragments that have broken off from a mold colony after it has been disturbed . This can be harmfulairborne particles less than 1.0 microns are easily breathed into the respiratory system, where they can cause irritation and potential allergic reactions. If this occurs, mycotoxins could accumulate onto local tissue and ultimately enter the bloodstream. The study by Brasel cited above showed that trichothecenes could be measured in the blood of people exposed to an indoor environment that had Stachybotrys.
Stachybotrys creates a class of mycotoxins referred to as trichothecenes. Trichothecenes have been widely studied and have been proven to be detrimental to the health of humans, animals and plants. In fact, trichothecenes have been investigated for the purpose of biological warfare needless to say, they are not something to which you want to be exposed.
Read Also: Mold On Leather
How Do You Treat Mold Toxicity Symptoms
Right now, youll see a lot of experts recommending handfuls of supplements and strict diets but the reality is, we just dont know for sure if these are the right treatment approach, says McElroy. Instead, she recommends the steps below. You might be surprised to see that killing the mold is only one out of five. Thats no coincidence! As McElroy explains, I often dont focus on killing mold since most symptoms are due to the immune response, not the mold itself. Instead, she starts with simple lifestyle steps and utilizes non-pill practices to achieve a state of better immune health, including:
Indoor Mold: 5 Symptoms Of Mold Exposure
Have you been wheezing lately, or getting out of breath just taking the stairs? Or maybe you feel like youre constantly battling a headache that just wont go away. Symptoms of mold exposure can be similar to those of infections or other conditions. So diagnosis and treatment takes longer than it should. But take heed. Those exposed to mold can be between 30-50% more likely to develop asthma. They also suffer from other respiratory problems and bronchitis.
Recommended Reading: How To Remove Mold From Basement
Signs Of A Mold Illness
Signs And Symptoms Of Mold Exposure
The most common symptoms of mold exposure include allergy-like symptoms and irritation. Other less common adverse effects of inhaling mold include infections and illness. Although rare, some individuals, particularly those with severely suppressed immune systems, may experience serious infections from mold exposure. Mold-related respiratory infections have been reported from workplace exposures to mold. Although symptoms can vary widely, the most common symptoms of mold exposure seen in people exposed to mold indoors include:
- Eye irritation, such as itchy, red, watery eyes
- Wheezing and difficulty breathing
Also Check: How To Treat Mold On Bathroom Ceiling
Symptoms Of Black Mold Exposure In Adults
Exposure to black molds must be avoided at all times. With or without sensitivities, you can still experience poisoning. The following are the symptoms of black mold exposure in adults:
- Itchy and red eyes
- Respiratory irritations
Those with asthma and other breathing problems must be extra careful. The mold spores are enough to trigger an attack. If you inhaled the mycotoxins, the effect would be much worse.
The same goes for immunocompromised individuals. They are at a higher risk of developing an infection when exposed to black molds for long periods.
Aside from adults, infants and children are also vulnerable when exposed to black molds. Its actually a risk factor for asthma among children.
If you suspect that youre experiencing black mold poisoning, you should seek medical care right away. Youll undergo a blood test and skin prick test to determine if you have an allergic reaction to black molds. The doctor can also provide prescriptions to ease the symptoms. Ultimately, an allergy shot will help reduce your flaring immune system.
What Can Living With Black Mold Do To You
The most common black mold symptoms and health effects are associated with a respiratory response. Chronic coughing and sneezing, irritation to the eyes, mucus membranes of the nose and throat, rashes, chronic fatigue and persistent headaches can all be symptomatic of black mold exposure or black mold poisoning.
You May Like: How To Clean Bathroom Ceiling
Mold Risks In Your Home
The reality is that everyone is at risk for mold in their home. Thats because mold is a type of fungus that thrives on moisture, and everyone has sources of moisture in their home. You will typically find mold in places where water can enter the home or where condensation can occur, such as:
- Leaky windows
Mold can present practically anywhere in and around your home including the kitchen, living room, bedroom, roof, and ductwork. You should especially check areas that have been flooded or have high humidity.
Mold Inspection & Mold Testing
There is a difference between a mold inspection and mold testing.
A mold inspection is a visual assessment of an area to determine whether mold is present.
Mold testing is when a certified mold inspector conducts scientific air sampling and collects samples that will be analyzed in a lab. This typically takes place when you cant see the mold but suspect it may be present.
Read Also: How To Clean Mold In Basements
The Good News Is The Health Effects Of Mold Are Treatable
Once you determine mold is making you ill, there are many treatments to remedy the situation. First and foremost, the source of the mold must be eliminated. Consider hiring a professional remediation crew so you dont risk exposing yourself to more mold spores and mycotoxins. Remediation can be an expensive process, so make sure you get quotes from a variety of mold remediation companies.
Plus, heres how to detox naturally to eliminate mold from your body:
- Use binders and sequestering agents such as activated charcoal, bentonite clay, chlorella, and zeolite to bind mycotoxins and remove them. They also help to prevent the reabsorption of mycotoxins in the gut. See the video below to learn more.
- Take glutathione is a powerful antioxidant that helps support detoxification pathways and can be used in conjunction with saunas to help mobilize and remove mycotoxins. If taken orally, 1 tsp a day will suffice. It can be administered intravenously as well.
- Take probiotics like Lactobacillus rhamnosus which can degrade or bind certain species of aflatoxin.
- Make sure other yeasts in the body such as Candida are under control. Sometimes its necessary to use systemic herbal antifungals to reduce yeast and mold counts
- Avoid high mycotoxin content foods like grains , chocolate, wine, coffee, beer, cheese, sugar, and peanuts. I believe that when people react to wine its not the sulfite content, but rather the mycotoxin content, that causes a headache or fatigue to kick in.
Follow An Individualized Mold Treatment Plan From A Knowledgeable Practitioner
Most of conventionally trained medical practitioners have a narrow view on the effects of mold on the human body. Its important to work with an integrative practitioner familiar with the latest research regarding mycotoxins and mold.
While the exact components and duration each persons mold protocol can differ, here are some key possible steps for treatment:
- Use binders: These are used to bind up mycotoxins in the body. Cholestyramine, a prescription binder, may be used as well as natural binders such as charcoal.
- Address candida overgrowth: These could be yeast infections, thrush and digestive issues
- Treat colonized molds and bacterial infections: The gut, lungs and sinuses may be affected.
- Incorporate antifungals if needed.
- Support detoxification: This includes targeted supplements like glutathione to enhance detox pathways, ozone sauna and sweating through exercise as tolerated.
- Clean your air: Look for a high quality air purifier that utilizes HEPA, carbon, and zeolite filters. The Healthmate Plus from Austin Air does this and also filters VOCs.
- Clean your water: Stand alone filers like the countertop Berkey models or whole-house systems such as AquaTru can remove unwanted contaminants.
Recommended Reading: How Do You Clean Mildew Off Of Leather
Symptoms Of Black Mold Exposure In Adults: What You Need To Know
Molds are one of the most common problems among households. But of the thousands of mold types, theres one thats been plaguing homes for years: black molds. Its dark color is often attributed to its menacing health effects. In this post, I will discuss the symptoms of black mold exposure in adults and what you can do if your family got in contact with this allergen.
Remember that any type of mold can be dangerous to a persons health. This is why you should act fast the moment you discover the presence of molds in your home.
What Are Symptoms And Signs Of Mold Exposure
Molds produce irritating substances that may act as allergy-causing substances in sensitive individuals. Furthermore, some molds produce toxic substances known as mycotoxins, but mold itself is not poisonous or toxic. The term “toxic mold,” therefore, refers to the fact that certain kinds of mold can produce mycotoxins. The conditions under which some molds produce toxins are not understood, and the presence of mold, even a mold that is capable of producing toxins, does not always imply that toxins are being produced or that a health risk or problem is present. Mold may not cause any health problems, or it may lead to allergy or other symptoms in people, including adults and children, who are sensitive to molds.
Allergic reactions to mold are the most common health effects of mold and are therefore the greatest health risk related to mold. Allergic reactions may happen immediately or develop after a period following exposure. Both growing mold and mold spores may lead to allergic reactions. Symptoms and signs of mold allergy may include
Mold or mold spores may cause asthma attacks in people who have asthma and are allergic to mold. Even in some non-allergic individuals, mold can cause symptoms of irritation in the eyes, skin, and airways. For example, the “black mold”Stachybotrys, along with some other types of mold, produces toxins known as mycotoxins that can cause irritation of the skin and airways in susceptible individuals.
You May Like: Shower Ceiling Mold Removal
I Heard About Toxic Molds And Black Molds That Grow In Homes And Other Buildings Should I Be Concerned About A Serious Health Risk To Me And My Family
There is always a little mold everywhere in the air and on many surfaces.
Certain molds are toxigenic, meaning they can produce toxins . Hazards presented by molds that may produce mycotoxins should be considered the same as other common molds which can grow in your house. Not all fungi produce mycotoxins and even those that do will not do so under all surface or environmental conditions.
Mold growth, which often looks like spots, can be many different colors, and can smell musty. Color is not an indication of how dangerous a mold may be. Any mold should be removed and the moisture source that helped it grow should be removed.
There are very few reports that toxigenic molds found inside homes can cause unique or rare health conditions such as pulmonary hemorrhage or memory loss. These case reports are rare, and a causal link between the presence of the toxigenic mold and these conditions has not been proven.
Links with this icon indicate that you are leaving the CDC website.
- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention cannot attest to the accuracy of a non-federal website.
- Linking to a non-federal website does not constitute an endorsement by CDC or any of its employees of the sponsors or the information and products presented on the website.
- CDC is not responsible for Section 508 compliance on other federal or private website.