Mold contamination has been identified as a major contributor to building-related illness and poor indoor air quality. Without proper mitigation of water losses, mold can start to grow and colonize within 24-48 hours. Some molds are known to be allergenic, pathogenic or toxigenic.
A 1999 Mayo Clinic Study cites molds as the cause of most of the chronic sinus infections that inflict 37 million Americans each year. Recent studies also link molds to the soaring asthma rate.
Molds Have been a mostly ignored health problem, but that is changing. Health-care professionals now understand that molds can cause allergies, trigger asthma attacks and increase susceptibility to colds and flu. Anyone with a genetic predisposition can become allergic if exposed repeatedly to high enough levels. Last year Dr. David Sherris at the Mayo Clinic performed a study of 210 patients with chronic sinus infections and found that most had allergic fungal sinusitis. The prevailing medical opinion has been that mold accounted for 6 to 7 percent of all chronic sinusitis. The Mayo Clinic study found that it was 93 percent - the exact reverse. Newsweek, 12/4/00
There are over 100,000 known living species of fungus, some of which are beneficial to mankind. Mycologists estimate that there may be as many as 200,000 more unidentified species of fungus. Yeasts, mold, mildews, rusts, and mushrooms are types of fungus.
Mold nor spores cause illness, other than allergy and /or infections. It is the mycotoxins released when the molds' food source (moisture) is severed. To help comprehend how small mycotoxins are, one common housefly and could carry about 7.35 billion attached to its external body hairs. Consequently, IF 50,000 constitute a theoretically lethal dose, a housefly could carry a lethal dose for over 100,000 individuals.
When the stachybotrys mold dries, the mycotoxin production increases up to 40,000 times.
Ten Things You Should Know About Mold
· Potential health effects and symptoms associated with mold exposures include allergic reactions, asthma, and other respiratory complaints.
· There is no practical way to eliminate all mold and mold spores in the indoor environment; the way to control indoor mold growth is to control moisture.
· If mold is a problem in your home or school, you must clean up the mold and eliminate sources of moisture.
· Fix the source of the water problem or leak to prevent mold growth.
· Reduce indoor humidity (to 30-60%) to decrease mold growth by: venting bathrooms, dryers, and other moisture-generating sources to the outside; using air conditioners and de-humidifiers; increasing ventilation; and using exhaust fans whenever cooking, dishwashing, and cleaning.
· Clean and dry any damp or wet building materials and furnishings within 24-48 hours to prevent mold growth.
· Clean mold off hard surfaces with water and detergent, and dry completely. Absorbent materials such as ceiling tiles, that are moldy, may need to be replaced.
· Prevent condensation: Reduce the potential for condensation on cold surfaces (i.e., windows, piping, exterior walls, roof, or floors) by adding insulation.
· In areas where there is a perpetual moisture problem, do not install carpeting (i.e., by drinking fountains, by classroom sinks, or on concrete floors with leaks or frequent condensation).
· Molds can be found almost anywhere; they can grow on virtually any substance, providing moisture is present. There are molds that can grow on wood, paper, carpet, and foods.
Conclusions and Recommendations
Prudent public health practice then indicates removal from exposure through clean up or remediation, and public education about the potential for harm. Not all species within these genera are toxigenic, but it is prudent to assume that when these molds are found in excess indoors that they are treated as though they are toxin producing.