Mold And Your Health

The effect mold can have on your health has become a more prominent health concern lately. Allergies and irritation of mucous membranes can be the product of mold contamination in your environment, and mold is suspected of being a major agent in Sick Building Syndrome. Certain molds also produce  toxins which can have wide ranging ill health effects. A widely reported study linked stachybotrys (a type of mold sometimes found on damp sheetrock) to bleeding lungs and several deaths of infants in Cleveland. Public buildings and schools many times will evacuate and close whenever stachybotrys is detected.

Health problems associated with Stachybotrys chartarum were first noted in Russian and Eastern European farm animals that ate moldy hay in the 1930’s and 1940’s.  Horses eating heavily SC-contaminated fodder experienced immune system suppression, infection and bleeding that was fatal with high doses.  The first reported human health effects were seen in agricultural workers who handled the moldy straw or hay.  These high level exposures were associated with coughing, runny nose, burning sensations in the mouth or nose, nose bleeds, headache, fatigue and skin irritation (rashes and itching) at the site of moldy hay contact.

Much less is known about health effects of SC when it occurs in indoor environments, such as homes or office buildings, where the most likely route of exposure is inhalation.  If large numbers of SC spores are released into the air, some people may develop symptoms such as coughing, wheezing, runny nose, irritated eyes or throat, skin rash, fatigue or diarrhea.  Researchers have theorized that these symptoms may result from toxins produced by SC or exposure to a combination of several molds or bacteria and the chemicals they produce.  Most people who experience health effects associated with moldy buildings fully recover following removal and clean-up of the mold contamination.