Who Is At Risk For Mold Toxicity
While anyone can become ill from exposure to mold and its mycotoxins, some are more susceptible than others.
People who already have allergies or asthma can be more severely affected by mold toxicity than those who do not have allergies.
Also, people who are already ill, have immune suppression, or who have respiratory illnesses are more likely to have noticeable and intense symptoms resulting from mold exposure.
Symptoms of mold toxicity are relatively persistent and should not be ignored.
Identifying Mold In Your Body
20-30% of people cant respond to toxic exposures of mold from water damage and excessive mycotoxins found in food.
If you suspect that you are already experiencing symptoms of mold exposure, steps must be taken in removing mold from the body. You can first confirm the presence of mold in the following ways:
- VCS Test: The VCS Test is an online visual test that can help confirm the presence of biotoxic illness, as well as possible symptoms caused from mold and mycotoxin exposure.
- Blood testing for mold: The C4A compliment detects recent mold exposure, while the TGF-Beta 1 is indicative of longer-term mold exposure.
- HLA DR/DQ: This gene is located on chromosome number 6, and it encodes a protein called an MHC Class II protein. Testing for this gene can reveal your genetic susceptibility to biotoxin illnesses.
As hinted at above, your genes play a large role in your bodys response to mold and mycotoxins. The HLA DR gene helps the immune system respond to environmental threats. It is estimated that 20-30% of people do not respond well to toxic exposures of mold from water damage and excessive mycotoxins found in food.
How Can You Be Exposed To Black Mold
You can be exposed to black mold, or any species of mold, by breathing in microscopic mold particles in the air, or through consumption of food that contains it.
Stachybotrys is unique because its spores are sticky and easily adhere to a surface when the mold colony dries. They are not regularly found in the air unless the mold colony has been disturbed. Though its spores are not readily airborne, black mold can produce other harmful contaminants more easily found in the air .
A disruption to a black mold colony can be as simple as slamming a door, opening a window or knocking into contaminated furniture. More force is required for Stachybotrys spores to become airborne, as compared to other commonly found indoor molds .
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Do I Need Professional Testing
In short, usually not! Because, remember the saying: no mold, no matter what color, belongs in a healthy home. And that is good news because a professional mold inspection with testing can run anywhere from $300-$750. In most cases where mold is clearly visible, knowing exactly what type of mold you have is unnecessary. We advise most of our clients to forgo the inspection process and just apply that money saved to the cost of fixing the problem. The EPA agrees that mold testing isnt necessary in most cases.
There are exceptions, however, such as when a mold inspection with testing is required as part of a real estate sale or if you require proof that a mold problem is present, such as for a legal dispute. If you think you may have a mold problem, but arent sure, then we recommend formal testing from a professional. And if you require clearance testing to verify an all clear after a mold problem is fixed, then professional mold testing is necessary.
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From Concise To Confused
Out of nowhere, Kimberlyn went from a highly-effective, busy, working mother, to a disorganized, uninvolved, confused individual who couldnt focus long enough to put together cohesive, coherent thoughts. She was no longer able to make decisions for herself and struggled to even get dressed in the morning. Insomnia, anxiety, and a loss of appetite accompanied the confusion. It was like I lost my personality, says Kimberlyn.
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How To Test And Remove Indoor Mold:
There are many ways in which you can test your property for mold, including:
- ARMI testsThe American Relative Moldiness Index test is cost-effective however, it is not the most thorough as it can only detect a select few types of mold.
- ERMI testsThe Environmental Relative Moldiness Index test was developed by the EPA and can detect up to 36 different types of mold within a home. Despite being able to identify more molds than ARMI tests, an ERMI test does not provide information on the source of mold production.
- Mold clearance testingThis is a series of tests conducted by professionals to make certain that the areas of your home where mold was removed have returned to normal conditions.
- MSQ/PCRThese tests can help homeowners identify the genus and species of mold.
- Petri dish testsPetri dish tests are common and often sold in hardware stores. However, homeowners should be wary of the accuracy of these tests. There have even been numerous instances where at-home petri-dish test results have been wrong. Some unopened test kits have even been moldy upon purchase.
- Presence Absence:These are simple swab applicators that detect mold in a home. If the swab comes back as green, then there is mold present in a home. However, these tests do not give homeowners an idea of the level of toxicity/classification of the mold or the moist area of the home that caused it to grow.
Actions You Can Take To Reduce Mould
The most important actions you can take to prevent mould in your home are those that minimise moisture.
- Fix leaky plumbing and roofs and other building faults
- Ensure gutters are cleared and maintained
- Reduce condensation by using exhaust fans, or open windows in the bathroom and kitchen when showering, cooking or using the dishwasher
- Wipe up excess water caused by condensation such as on single glazed windows and on shower glazing
- Air the home regularly by opening windows and doors on warmer days
- Vent clothes dryers to the outside and clean lint filters according to the manufacturers instructions.
Refer to information about cleaning up mould: refer to the information on the Better Health Channel website.
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Symptoms Of Mold Exposure
Symptoms of mold exposure can include:
- Nasal and sinus congestion, runny nose
- Respiratory problems, such as wheezing and difficulty breathing, chest tightness
- Sneezing / Sneezing fits
Health effects linking to asthma
Adverse respiratory health effects are associated with occupancy in buildings with moisture and mold damage. Infants may develop respiratory symptoms due to exposure to a specific type of fungal mold, called Penicillium. Signs that an infant may have mold-related respiratory problems include a persistent cough and wheeze. Increased exposure increases the probability of developing respiratory symptoms during their first year of life. Studies have shown that a correlation exists between the probability of developing asthma and increased exposure to Penicillium. The levels are deemed âno moldâ to âlow levelâ, from âlowâ to âintermediateâ, and âintermediateâ to âhighâ.
Mold exposures have a variety of health effects depending on the person. Some people are more sensitive to mold than others. Exposure to mold can cause several health issues such as throat irritation, nasal stuffiness, eye irritation, cough, and wheezing, as well as skin irritation in some cases. Exposure to mold may also cause heightened sensitivity depending on the time and nature of exposure. People at higher risk for mold allergies are people with chronic lung illnesses and weak immune systems, which can often result in more severe reactions when exposed to mold.
Green Works Professional Mold Detecting Process:
GreenWorks is a professional mold detection and removal company in New Jersey that uses the following process to accurately test for mold:
1) Mold Testing
For families who have no apparent health effects or illnesses from mold, testing may not be required. However, for those who have children or individuals with allergies or immuno-compromised systems, mold testing should be conducted by professionals.
2) Client Interview
The mold test starts with an interview of the homeowners or current occupants. This gives our experts a better understanding of the structure of the home and any mold-related issues that the family has come across such as health issues, water damage, or past repairs. The interview helps our team decide whether or not mold testing is necessary.
3) Olfactory Investigation:
Trained mold investigators are sometimes able to identify actively growing mold through smell. This is helpful, especially when the mold is not visible. However, olfactory investigations may be affected by the weather, air transfer, or other factors that dilute or overpower the aroma of indoor mold.
4) Mold Inspection
Our experts will conduct a comprehensive visual inspection of your home. This helps to determine if there is mold growth in moist areas of your home such as bathrooms, under sinks, basements, crawlspaces, and more. Molds often hide in dark, hard-to-reach reach places, which our team is trained in inspecting.
5) Mold Inspection
6) Hydrology Inspection
7) Mold Inspection Report
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Common Types Of Household Mold
Household mold varieties typically can be divided into rooms of the house. Mold & Bacteria Consulting Laboratories identified the most common molds in kitchens and bathrooms, on wallpaper, on carpets and mattresses, and in basements. These mold range from needing a large spore count in order to be harmful to ones that are extremely dangerous and any spore count present is very dangerous.Most common household molds:
Aspergillus: This species of mold has hundreds of different strains and is most commonly found in bathrooms, kitchens, and basements. It can also be present in damp potted plants, building materials, and carpet.
Cladosporium: This mold species is a common trigger for asthma attacks and allergic reactions. It is commonly found on decaying plants and indoor strains tend to grow on wet building materials and HVAC fans.
Stachybotrys: Commonly referred to as black mold, this is one of the most well-knownand most dangerousmold varieties that can grow in homes. It is most often found in dark, humid areas. The most common signs of black mold are a musty smell, dark rings and water spots, and visible mold colonies.
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.
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What Are Microbial Volatile Organic Compounds
Another source of irritation from mold exposure comes from substances knownas microbial volatile organic compounds . These compounds are producedthrough fungal metabolism and are released directly into the air, often givingoff strong or unpleasant odors. Exposure to mVOCs from molds can irritate theeyes and respiratory system and has been linked to symptoms such as headaches,dizziness, fatigue, nasal irritation and nausea. The effects of mVOCs are notcompletely understood and research is still in the early stages.
How To Detox Your Body From Mold
Even if youre not especially sensitive to mold, your body still needs help safely clearing out mycotoxins. When these arent removed properly and completely, they can cycle back around, and cause ongoing damage and symptoms.
The best way to clear out these toxins is with proven toxin-binders. Its important to make sure youre working with safe, gentle detoxing agents so they dont overtax your bodys clearance system . At the same time, you must use proven binders that dont allow toxins to be reabsorbed in the intestines rather than excreted from the body.
One prescription cholesterol-lowering medication called Cholestyramine binds strongly to some mycotoxins especially ochratoxin and keeps them getting reabsorbed.
On the natural front, modified citrus pectin has been extensively researched as an effective detoxifying agent. Because MCP works so gently, its safe for long-term use, which is often necessary for completely removing mycotoxins from your system. MCP works especially well when paired with another natural detoxifier: seaweed-derived alginates, natural gel-like substances that bind tightly to toxins.
The combination of MCP and alginate prevents toxins including mycotoxins and heavy metals from being reabsorbed in the intestines. And although they make a strong detoxifying team, MCP and alginate are easily tolerated and their gentle action wont strip essential minerals from your body.
Other mycotoxin detoxifiers include:
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Your Health Isnt The Only Thing At Risk
Nothing is more important than your health, but you should also know that mold can damage your home. Whether youre a tenant or a homeowner, the financial consequences can be huge.
Depending on property size and affected areas, the average cost of mold remediation services is around $2,000. While this may feel like a big expense, itll save you a lot of money in the long run. Left untreated, mold can damage your home in several ways, including:
- Collapsed Ceilings
- Broken Walls
- And more
This is because mold literally eats away at the wood, drywall, tiles, and other household materials. In severe cases, replacements can easily surpass the $10,000 mark. Frankly, rectifying the issue immediately is vital for your finances as well as your health and peace of mind.
Can Mold Harm Your Brain
- May 21, 2020
- Betsy Mills, PhD
It is well established that exposure to mold increases the risk for respiratory disorders , but could it also impact brain health and the risk for cognitive decline? While there have been no conclusive epidemiological studies linking mold exposure to dementia, there is evidence from case studies to suggest that mold exposure may contribute to cognitive impairment in a subset of susceptible people .
It has been difficult to establish whether there is a direct link because not every person who is exposed to mold will experience cognitive symptoms. Instead, it appears that there is only a small subset of people who will be affected. Unfortunately, there is currently no way to identify this vulnerable subset before they show symptoms. No specific type of mold or level of exposure has been associated with increased risk for cognitive symptoms . Several possibilities have been put forth to try to explain how mold exposure could affect cognition, which may provide some insight into why some people are at higher risk.
Stress: Chronic exposure to mold is typically associated with stressful conditions, such as low socioeconomic status, or water damage to ones home or workplace . Stress can also cause inflammation. Therefore, some of the negative health effects from mold exposure, including cognitive effects, could arise from the bodys response to stressful conditions, rather than the mold itself.
WHAT YOU CAN DO
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How Do You Get The Molds Out Of Buildings Including Homes Schools And Places Of Employment
Mold growing in homes and buildings indicates that there is a problem with water or moisture. This is the first problem to address.
Remove moldy items from living areas. Once mold starts to grow in carpet, insulation, ceiling tiles, drywall, or wallboard, the only way to deal with the problem is by removal and replacement.
It is important to properly clean and dry the area as you can still have an allergic reaction to parts of the dead mold and mold contamination may recur if there is still a source of moisture.
Remove or replace carpets and upholstery that have been soaked and cannot be dried promptly.
Clean up and dry out your home thoroughly and quickly after any flooding. Dig out mud and dirt . Use a wet vacuum to remove remaining dirt. Scrub cleanable surfaces with soapy water and a bristle brush. Thoroughly clean all hard surfaces with water and dish detergent. Dry surfaces quickly and thoroughly after cleaning. If you have a fan, air conditioner or dehumidifier that wasnt affected by flooding use it to help the surfaces dry after you finish cleaning
Mold growth can be removed from hard surfaces with commercial products, soap and water, or a bleach solution of no more than 1 cup of bleach in 1 gallon of water to kill mold on surfaces. Never mix bleach with ammonia or other household cleaners.
If you choose to use bleach to clean up mold: