Clean air is essential for good health, and this is especially true when it comes to indoor air.
We spend close to 90% of our time inside at home, at work and in recreational environments. Most people, however, are unaware of the effects that poor indoor air quality can have on their health.
Asthma and many allergies are attributable to poor indoor air quality.
If your home has a history of water damage or leaks or you feel better when you are outside of your home or work place, then you may have poor indoor air quality that could be caused by mold. The mold may be the cause of your poor health.
When trying to categorize the different types of molds, people often look at colour.
However, green, yellow, white, orange and even black is not a clear indicator of what is present.
It is best to professionally test samples of the visible growth and the air itself for a definitive answer.
Depending on your genetics, immune system and environment, mold affects people as an:
- Irritant. People with “normal” immune systems generally get irritated by a heavy dose of mold. We’ve heard symptoms ranging from heavy sneezing to a 10-hour headache to bronchitis.
- Allergen. Could be mild to severe reaction. By far, the most common reaction to mold. The problem is it causes inflammation in different parts of the body so the symptoms for one person aren’t the same for another exposed to the same mold. One person might get digestion problems whereas another might have shortness of breath and a third get dull headaches.
- Infectious agent. Per Children’s Mercy Hospital, mold infections are the #1 killer of bone-marrow transplant patients. Usually only immune-compromised individuals get mold infections. However enough mold exposure can cause infections even in healthy people; Farmer’s Lung, Aspergillosis and Valley Fever are 3 examples of this.
- Toxin. Molds produce mycotoxins to kill other competing molds. These carcinogenic and neurotoxic substances can be highly toxic to people and cause the worst reactions. Migraines, brain “fog” and loss of energy are just some of the life-changing symptoms that can happen.
The Mold types considered to be the most dangerous:
Also known as “stachy”, “black mold” and “toxic mold”, Stachybotrys is characterized by its slimy shiny appearance. It needs a lot of water to grow and feeds on drywall, carpet, and wood. It takes 7 to 10 days to begin growing and is often found near slow leaks. Because the spores are heavy and wet they do not get airborne until the mold colony becomes dehydrated or dies. Stachybotrys has been linked to lung disorders and brain damage. Stachybotrys is also found in air samples when the colony or spores are disturbed.
Aspergillus can be many colours including yellow, green or black. 15 of the 150 species are common in buildings. Aspergillus is easily airborne and more toxic than many industrial cancer causing substances.
Penicillium comes in many colours including white, blue/green, or green. Penicillium spores are easily airborne and are common and thrive in indoor environments.
Similar to Stachybotrys, Chaetomium is a known producer of mycotoxins and grows on water saturated drywall, carpet and wood.
Fusarium is a common soil fungus. It is found on a wide range of plants and often in humidifiers. It can produce toxins that target the circulatory system, alimentary system, skin and nervous system.
Do You Have Sick Building Syndrome?
In the 1980s, the World Health Organization (WHO), determined that poor air quality caused by water damage causes Sick Building Syndrome (SBS). SBS is a chronic inflammatory illness and is also known as Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome (CIRS).
According to research, up to 25% of the population have a genetic predisposition to mold illness, leading to them becoming mold sensitized.
Symptoms of CIRS include: Fatigue, Weakness, Aches, Muscle Cramps, Unusual Pain, Ice Pick Pain, Headache, Light Sensitivity, Red Eyes, Blurred Vision, Tearing, Sinus Problems, Cough, Shortness of Breath, Abdominal Pain, Diarrhea, Joint Pain, Morning Stiffness, Memory Issues, Focus/Concentration Issues, Word Recollection Issues, Decreased Learning of New Knowledge, Confusion, Disorientation, Skin Sensitivity, Mood Swings, Appetite Swings, Sweats (especially night sweats), Temperature Regulation or Dysregulation Problems, Excessive Thirst, Increased Urination, Static Shocks, Numbness, Tingling, Vertigo, Metallic Taste, and Tremors.
Because of the large number of symptoms and different combinations that a patient can have, CIRS is often mis-diagnosed. If you have any of these symptoms and have made repeated visits to your doctor and your condition continues to worsen, you should consider examining your living or working environment to determine if this is the cause of your sickness.
Valor Mold specializes in working with mold sensitized individuals.
Call Valor Mold if you think you have a mold problem and particularly if you think your health is being impacted.