What is Mold?

This Toxic Mold page is here to help keep you informed on the latest information available. As information is updated and supplied to us, we will keep you informed as well. It is intended to be a comprehensive guide to many aspects of mold and the potentially fatal dangers that it poses to infants and individuals with weak immune systems. Toxic molds have been causing serious health conditions in humans for hundreds of years. These dangerous types of mold can exist in damp environments in our home or workplace without us ever knowing it. In the last ten years, there have been many reports of toxic molds causing serious and even fatal consequences for infants and sensitized individuals.

Different species of fungi have probably been present in human suffering since the dawn of time. In fact, the adverse health effects of fungal exposure are mentioned in the Book Of Leviticus. However, it wasn’t until relatively recently that the scientific community has identified mold and other fungi as a possible cause of 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:

  • Penicillium
  • Aspergillus
  • Stachybotrys
  • Paecilomyces
  • Fusarium

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
  • Fever
  • Headaches
  • Diarrhea
  • Immune suppression

Research on Toxic Mold
There has been quite a lot of literature detailing specific case studies of mold contaminating homes and other structures. However, there has been relatively little work on the specific conditions and surroundings that allowed this growth. Beginning 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, expand, and then eventually die. One of the results discovered was that humidity played a very indirect role to the growth of mold. However, small amounts of moisture can foster the development of certain mold cultures. Other types of mold require much greater levels of moisture. The fairly toxic species, S. atra, needs a lot of moisture and lots of materials that contain cellulose in order to foster growth.

Recent studies and cases have revealed greater rates of poisonous fungal species in poorly maintained offices/homes 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 recognition on the part of government agencies, communities, families, and individuals regarding the dangers associated with damp, moist, and wet indoor environments. At once time it was thought that bacteria or viruses were responsible for many of the health problems within buildings. Today, many home and workplace-related ailments are now being properly attributed wholly or, in part, to fungi and mold. As science and medicine continue to expand our knowledge of the effects of toxic mold, individuals are becoming much more aware of indoor air quality issues. For example, only relatively recently have individuals and families had enough education on the effects of mold to begin making cases for mold contamination.