Mold Toxicity: The Effects of Living with Mold
Rapid growth and an overtaking of your environment are a few characteristics that can be used to describe the dreaded but common household issue that we know as mold. Mold is a fungus that can grow on almost anything, with the ability to thrive in many conditions but most specifically in warm temperatures and high moisture environments.
The versatility of mold allows for this fungus to grow in both indoor and outdoor environments, making it an invasive presence in both your outdoor area and most importantly in your indoor areas such as your home. When you are exposed to mold chronically, you can develop mold toxicity symptoms.
Mold has the ability to spread far and wide, as tiny microscopic spores called mycotoxins, are released from the source in an effort to allow additional mold to grow. As mold begins to reproduce, its effect on humans who have been exposed could be significant.
Sensitivities can plague some individuals when contact occurs between mold, with symptoms spurring into overdrive in some cases. The type of mold present can lead to variations of symptoms, with a rough estimate of 1,000 species of mold currently in the United States (1). The level of hazard existing to human health can significantly reflect based upon on the specific type of mold in the environment and can thus lead to a scary health effect called mold toxicity.
What is Mold Toxicity?
Mold toxicity occurs when mycotoxins are produced by micro-fungi such as mold, that can affect your body’s system leading to chronic symptoms.
It is estimated that 24% of the population is genetically susceptible to this illness and will begin experiencing chronic inflammatory immune responses as a result of this exposure. Toxins produced by mold will start to accumulate inside the body and trigger inflammatory reactions that cause a wide variety of symptoms from allergies, sinus congestion, breathing issues to fatigue, brain fog and mood disorders such as depression and anxiety.
Mold Toxicity vs Mold Allergies
Often times confusion surrounds the different mold illnesses, specifically mold toxicity and mold allergies. These two separate illnesses illicit different reactions in the body and can affect a person differently.
Mold allergies are caused by mold spores that become inhaled and stimulate symptoms similar to those of hay fever (2). Mold toxicity, in comparison to mold allergies, is caused by the volatile toxic vapors that are dispersed by mold that in turn elicits a chronic inflammatory response.
Diagnosing this condition is very hard, especially for medical professionals who often misdiagnose it because of the wide variation of possible symptoms. The first step in diagnosing mold toxicity or even mold allergies is identifying mold within your environment, particularly in your home.
How to Check for Mold in a House
If you suspect a mold source in your home the first thing you will want to do is test/check for mold in your environment. Even if you do not suspect mold inside your home, you should still do a simple test to ensure mold growth is not occurring in your home, particularly if you are experiencing unexplainable symptoms.
Mold toxicity can be a devious stealer of health. When checking for mold growth you should look for these three characteristics; mold growth, moisture/water leaks, and health symptoms.
Most mold is unmistakable, but sometimes hidden growths can appear as just surface dirt on your wall, ceiling, etc. If you see any new discolorations to your home’s surface, immediate action needs to be implemented. However, the scary reality is that the dangerous molds that grow in your home are often the molds that you cannot visibly see!
In addition to certain species of mold being hard to see, mold can grow in areas of the house that don’t get looked at very often. Once mold as spread into the air, you can build mold toxicity in the body without ever knowing it was in your house.
Anywhere in your home where moisture is present can produce mold. Moisture and warm environments are desirable conditions in which mold is happy to make a home and reproduce (3).
Therefore, any area in your home where there is a lot of moisture such as in a bathroom, laundry room, or kitchen can potentially be exposed to mold growth.
Mold exposure in indoor environments can lead to an array of potential health issues and symptoms (4). During the reproduction process of mold, mold spores and mycotoxins are released into the air and can become inhaled through the nose and mouth. Once mold spores enter into your body, it can trigger a plethora of symptoms.
Health symptoms of mold toxicity include the following:
- Respiratory problems
- Skin inflammation
- Mucus membrane irritation
- Mental impairment
Household Molds That Can Lurk Inside Your Home
Mold is unfortunately, pretty much unavoidable in your home as most homes harbor some species of mold in its confines. Out of the 1,000s of mold species, there are some species that are more prone to growth indoors than others, and some that particularly grow inside homes.
There are six main species of mold that are commonly found inside homes, and each contain their own characteristics and potential health hazards.
A known allergy causing fungus, Alternaria has been shown to affect 70% of mold allergy patients that react to this species of mold during a skin test. Exacerbated asthma symptoms for both rhinitis or bronchial asthma is significantly impacted by the airborne spores released from this household mold. Alternaria has a high presence during the spring “allergy season” and throughout till late fall.
Alternaria is a common outdoor mold that’s main habitats include plants, trees, grasses, and soil, and is directed by the wind inside your home or travels on people’s clothing and shoes. Identifying Alternaria in your home starts with increase allergy and asthma symptoms and noticeable discoloration of either green, black, or grayish color.
The indoor household mold, aspergillus is a mold that is known for producing hydrophobic spores that are easily inhaled due to their extremely small size. When these small spores are inhaled a condition called Aspergillosis can develop which will cause an immune response in the body that can bring symptoms such as a fever, asthma attacks, and coughing up mucus or even blood. Aspergillus is attracted to dust and therefore lures the mold into households, especially ones with a buildup of dust.
The appearance of aspergillus is typically a variety of colors including grey, brown, yellow, green, white, or even black. Once this mold forms it will rapidly grow, particularly on walls, insulation, clothing, and any humid moist area.
A common household mold, Cladosporium is a versatile mold species that has the ability to grow in both warm and cool environments. Identifying this type of mold can be challenging, as there are over 500 species of Cladosporium – the help of a mold professional may be required to identify this mold. Severe allergic reactions can be triggered in the presence of this mold, as it can be harmful to people with asthma, allergies, and weakened immune system when they are exposed to the mold in their environment.
Cladosporium is typically found on food, dead plants, wood, insulation, and dark damp environments like a basement. If you start to experience severe respiratory symptoms, check these areas for discolorations of grey, brown or black on the surfaces of these environments.
Do you have the dreaded black mold growing in your home? Memnoniella mold is often associated with the toxic Stachybotrys mold that every homeowner hopes to never have to deal with. Unfortunately, however, if you see memnoniella growing than stachybotrys is likely to be found in the air as well.
This mold produces the same type of allergic symptoms in humans as the toxic black mold, but in comparison memnoniella is smaller and can therefore penetrate the lining of the lungs easier than black mold and cause respiratory problems, headaches, and coughing upon exposure.
Memnoniella can usually be found growing on cotton, canvas, wool, ceilings, walls, and damp areas like basements and bathrooms. This molds dark appearance with green and black coloration makes it easy to identify in your home.
Stachybotrys, aka toxic black mold, is a hazardous species of mold that can be found in indoor environments that provide the ideal conditions; moisture, nutrient source, and warm temperature. The name black mold originated from its slimy dark appearance (black or dark green) that forms on the surfaces of your home. Black mold can be found on any moist area but particularly on walls, ceilings, and floorboards.
This toxic mold produces toxic compounds called mycotoxins that can cause significant health problems when people are exposed to them including headaches, asthma, dizziness, joint pain, and in extreme cases can lead to cancer.
Where water damage has occurred, you can typically suspect penicillium mold to be growing in this environment usually on carpeting, wallpaper, insulation, and furnishings. Penicillium rapidly grows throughout the environment and appears as a green, white, or blue discoloration on exposed surfaces.
Penicillium can significantly irritate the stomach if ingested and when the mold creates airborne mold spores into your environment it can lead to congestion, coughing and eye irritation.
Plan of Attack to Removing Mold from Your Home
What can you do when you find a mold source in your home? What plan of action is required next? First and foremost, when you locate mold growth in your home you will want to examine the underlying cause of the mold growth, whether there was a moisture leak or what type of conditions surround the mold in the environment.
Second, you will want to call a mold remediation specialist to assist you in the removal of this mold from your home’s surfaces. Often times we will try to utilize different methods of mold removal that we find online, but in reality, the best solution is having a trained professional come to your aid to ensure that proper removal occurs of this mold.
Third, eliminating the mold spores that have traveled into your air. We often don’t consider that mold can compromise the quality of your home’s air by collecting mold spores released from mold.
How can you eliminate these mold spores from your air? The enhanced chemical reactivity found in the EnviroKlenz Cartridge makes it ideal for removing harmful mold-generated VOCs.
The EnviroKlenz Mobile UV Air System is a portable air filtration machine that contains this enhanced chemically reactive technology that can effectively work at taking in mold spores and capturing them from your air.
This UV system has the ability to completely destroy microorganisms such as mold spores that are in your air, by utilizing UVC (ultraviolet germicidal radiation) lights that shine upon the collect spores on top of the hospital-grade HEPA filter. With VOC elimination, particulate removal, and the ability to kill mold spores, this air purification system is the ideal purifier for any type of mold in your home.
Testing for Mold Toxicity
If you find mold in your home or workplace, it is important to test for mold toxicity in your body. Oftentimes, people who are struggling to get healthy (even when they seem to be doing everything right), are dealing with mold toxicity.
Mold toxins increase the burden on the liver and create chronic inflammation in the body. These toxins are highly indicated in neurological disorders and symptoms like brain fog, depression, and anxiety. One very effective option for testing mold toxins in the body is the GPL-MycoTOX Profile.
Addressing Mold Toxicity in the Body
If you find elevated mold toxins in the body, you will want to take measures to improve detoxification systems. In addition to this, you will want to ensure the source of mold is remediated properly. Using an air purification system like The EnviroKlenz Mobile UV Air System is the last step in a comprehensive mold mitigation protocol.
When it comes to getting mold toxins out of the body, the following is my go-to stack:
ThyroLiver Protect: A combination of selenium, milk thistle extract, Alpha-Lipoic Acid, and N-Acetyl-L-Cysteine. This combination assists liver detoxification while supporting the production of glutathione. Taking 1–2 caps, 2 times daily helps your liver neutralize and process the mold spores.
Super Glutathione: For tough cases, extra glutathione can be necessary. This is an acetylated form that is able to be absorbed by the digestive tract. I recommend 1–2 caps – 2 times daily. This is especially important if you are suffering with a lot of symptoms from mold exposure.
Activated Charcoal: When detoxification systems are upregulated, many toxins are released into the digestive tract. If they are not bound by something like charcoal, they are given the opportunity to reabsorb and cause more problems. Using 1–2 caps of charcoal between meals and immediately before bed is a great strategy.
BioToxin Binder: This product contains a special form of carbon that has a greater binding ability. It also contains wild-crafted yucca root and fulvic acid. It’s formulated specifically to support binding biotoxins like mold, ammonia and aldehyde systemically. Take 1–2 caps – 2 times daily.