Mold Symptoms & Exposure: Is Mold Making you Sick?

If you are reading this, chances are you or someone you care about is having health issues that you suspect are related to mold exposure. Some individuals are extremely sensitive to mold, while others in the same environment are completely unaffected. This makes it difficult to make the case that a moldy environment actually causes illness. Furthermore, the information available to the public relating to mold’s effect on human health is very limited and extremely conservative. Human exposure to indoor mold growth is not regulated, and  unlike contaminants such as asbestos and lead, there are no standards or regulations specifying acceptable limits or exposure levels.

Can Mold Make You Sick?

You may be wondering, can mold make you sick? Although we are not doctors or medical professionals, the Indoor Air Quality staff at ARA has enough education, training and real world experience to comfortably state that, yes, mold can cause a wide variety of health issues.

 

Potential symptoms of mold sickness:

  • headaches
  • allergy symptoms
  • itchy eyes & nose
  • runny nose
  • sneezing, coughing
  • skin rashes
  • asthma attacks
  • & other serious conditions* (see below)

 

Of course, we always recommend that people see their doctor about any medical issue. If you suspect an environmental cause to your suffering, an Indoor Air Quality Professional can help you address your environment, but only your doctor can diagnose and treat your medical issues.

 

Here are some of the questions that our staff will typically ask when assessing an Indoor Air Quality situation (ask these same questions of yourself and you may be able to get to the bottom of your problem):

 

  • Do you see mold? Smell mold? Both?
  • When there are odors, are they biological or chemical? Follow your nose!
  • Are there health complaints without odors? If so, consider Carbon Monoxide or Carbon Dioxide.
  • Have you had a recent “water intrusion event”?
  • Is the issue confined to a certain part of the building/home?
  • If chronic nausea is a complaint, consider a contaminated drinking water source.
  • Chronic headaches can be caused by many sources. If you have ruled out things like migraines, stress, etc., and are convinced the cause is environmental, likely causes might be a reaction to a chemical, or in some cases, Stachybotrys or other molds.

 

If you are certain that you have mold in your dwelling, and it is causing someone to become ill, please do not attempt to clean or remove it yourself! By disturbing the mold you are potentially making the problem much much worse. Please call ARA or another certified Mold Professional to address the problem safely and professionally.

 

Mold Symptoms are Hard to Diagnose

If you are concerned about the health effects of mold exposure, and are considering a trip to your family doctor, you should be aware that Indoor Environmental Professionals (IEP’s) and those in the medical community have not completely come together on this topic. IEP Consultants who investigate things like black mold on a daily basis can see the sometimes devastating results when mold is present. But they are not medical doctors, and they hesitate to tell a person that mold is causing their illness. On the other hand, most doctors do not have access to the scientific information being collected by the IEP.  Medical doctors are not experts in Indoor Air Quality, so they also are reluctant to make the call that molds are causing a particular set of symptoms. This can be extremely frustrating for the person who is suffering.

 

The IAQ staff at ARA understands that exposure to indoor mold is a potential and often very serious health concern for certain humans, especially the very young, the elderly, and the immuno-compromized. Black mold exposure can be particularly concerning. If you suspect mold exposure is making you sick, it probably is. Call your doctor to address your symptoms, and call ARA to address the cause. We can help!

 


* Case Studies Linking Mold to Serious Health Conditions

 

“Recognition, Evaluation and Control of Indoor Mold” is a book written by expert industrial hygiene practitioners, academics and government officials and scientists scrutinized by external peer review, and is a go-to resource for most IAQ Professionals. In the 2008 edition, Section 1.3.5, this book specifically addresses several case studies from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which concentrate on the mold “Stachybotrys” or S. chartarum, otherwise known to the mass media as “Toxic Black Mold.” 

 

One of the many case studies discusses infants exposed to Stachybotrys in Cleveland, OH in the 1990s. Their research showed that there is a relationship between Stachybotrys exposure and Idiopathic pulmonary hemosiderosis (IPH), which is hemorrhaging of the lungs in infants.


The original links were published in 1998. A follow up study of 37 cases of IPH identified the following findings: In the cluster of 30 (7 were post mortem)

 

  • 88% were presented with respiratory distress requiring ICU.
  • 81% required ventilator support.
  • 50% required blood transfusions
  • 11% developed failure to thrive.

 

Additional therapy for reactive airways was required for 39% of the infants for six months following pulmonary hemorrhaging. The average age of the infants was less than six months. Though this was the most shocking case study in the publication, there are many similar examples showing a link between mold exposure and health issues in humans.

 

Source: “Recognition, Evaluation, and Control of Indoor Mold” Edited by Bradley Prezant, Donald M. Weekes, and J. David Miller, 2008

 

Indoor Environment Connections, (IEConnections.com) is an  independent trade newspaper which focuses on covering critical issues within the IAQ industry. In Connections, Volume 12 Issue 11 there was a front page article regarding IAQ research titled "Strong Link Between Mold and Asthma in Children.” The results identified that children exposed to mold at a young age were twice as likely to become asthmatic as children that were not exposed to mold at a young age.

 

Source: “Indoor Environment Connections” www.ieconnections.com