Mold Toxicity Symptoms: The Signs and Effects of Mold, and Remediation Part 2
Most Common Mycotoxins
Scientists have identified more than 200 different mycotoxins, some of which’s mold toxicity symptoms can interfere with the body’s ability to synthesize RNA and may also cause damage to the DNA. Mycotoxins are lipid soluble, which means they tend to accumulate in the fat cells, and are easily absorbed in the mucosal linings of the lungs and digestive tract. The mycotoxins produced by two types of mold in particular have been the objects of much scientific research due to their highly toxic natures.
Stachybotrys Chartarum is the strain of mold most commonly referred as ‘Black Mold’. This type of mold is typically greenish black and slimy, though it may also appear grayish and powdery. Stachybotry can be mistaken for Aspergillus, Cladosporium, Alternaria, and Drechslera. If you find mold in your home or suspect your mold toxicity symptoms may be of this toxic variety, you may wish to consult with an expert for definitive identification before mold toxicity symptoms appear.
Stachybotrys loves feeding on materials that are high in cellulose, including wood, wicker, cardboard, fiberboard, and drywall. This type of mold requires a lot of moisture to grow well. Stachybotrys produces trichothecenes, a mycotoxin first studied in Russia during the 1920s after cattle that had been fed moldy hay began to die.
Poisoning caused by Stachybotrys mycotoxin is called stachybotryotoxicosis. Studies have found this toxin to be as much as 40 times more potent when inhaled than when ingested. The good news is that a mold colony does not always produce spores. Production of mold spores depends on a number of environmental factors, including the growth medium, temperature, food source, pH, and humidity, among other factors, some of which may not yet be known. Because mycotoxins occur in the mold spores, if the mold colony is not producing spores, there are no mycotoxins.
Stachybotrys spores are particularly hardy, able to survive temperatures as high as 500 degrees fahrenheit as well as tolerating exposure to highly caustic agents such as acid and bleach. In one study, stachybotrys spores found on sedimentary rocks dating back two million years began to grow when placed in favorable conditions.
Mycotoxins from Stachybotrys have been shown to damage the immune system and cause damage to the lymph nodes and bone marrow. In animal studies, injecting the stachybotrys mycotoxins caused severe hemorrhaging from various organs. Humans exposed to the mycotoxins have experienced mold toxicity symptoms including flu-like illness, respiratory issues, cognitive difficulties, muscle aches, sore throat, headaches, rash, fatigue, and even hemorrhage.
Aspergilli are among the most prevalent environmental molds, most often found in compost heaps and other decaying plant matter. In your home, it may take up residence in heating and air conditioning ducts, insulation, and sometimes on food. There are several strains of Aspergilli, most of which are generally harmless, but can sometimes can cause serious illness in those with compromised immune systems or those who suffer prolonged exposure. Those who are allergic to aspergillus can have fever, cough, phlegm, or asthma attacks.
Aspergillus infection is known as aspergillosis, which is actually an umbrella term referring to a group of infections. These mold toxicity symptoms may range from mild respiratory infection to severe systemic infection. Invasive aspergillosis is an infection that occurs when aspergillus invades the circulatory system and spreads throughout the body to other organs. In some cases of aspergillosis, a tangled ball of fibers, known as an aspergilloma, can begin to grow in the lungs. This can lead to wheezing, shortness of breath, fatigue, weight loss, and coughing up blood. Correcting aspergillosis involves intravenous antifungal medication and may require surgery.
Determining Mold Induced Illness
Determining the presence of bacterial infections is relatively easy, as bacterial infections trigger a rise in white blood cells. Fungal infections generally do not affect the immune system in this way. Fungal infections do, however, trigger the localized production of a specific type of white blood cell, known as eosiniphils. These cells are an important mold toxicity symptom. These cells are typically seen in allergic reactions and when parasites are present. Because these cells are typically localized to the area of infection, they may not be seen in bloodwork.
If you suspect you have mold toxicity symptoms, it is vital to find a doctor with significant experience in environmental medicine who is willing to perform a comprehensive workup. This may include metabolic panel, blood sugar test, tests for kidney and liver function, tests for serum antibodies to mycotoxins, immune tests, lymphocyte panels, gamma globulins, blood and urine tests for mycotoxins, pulmonary function evaluation, pupillometry, heart rate testing, neurological testing, EEG, brain imaging, visual sensitivity testing, hearing testing, and thyroid testing.
Preventing and Remediating Mold and Mold Toxicity Symptoms
Mold spores are everywhere. Short of a strictly controlled clean room, they are impossible to completely get rid of. However, mold spores require certain conditions to grow. They need moisture, organic material to feed on, and oxygen. They grow best in warm temperatures, but can grow in a wide range of temperatures.
If you find mold in your home, it’s best to call in a professional, because it can be difficult to determine just how extensive the problem might be. By the time mold is obvious, what you can see is usually just a small part of the problem. Whether you do it yourself or you call in a professional, it’s important to know what to expect.
Before starting mold remediation, it’s important to contain the mold. During the removal process, the mold and its spores will become airborne. Without proper containment, the airborne mold spores are likely to settle on other surfaces, causing the problem to spread. The best containment uses negative air pressure. Negative air pressure ensures airborne mold will not escape the containment area. An air purifier with a HEPA filter should be used to clean the air and remove airborne mold.
If you attempt to remediate the mold yourself, be sure to use protective gear. At a minimum, this should include a respirator, latex gloves and goggles. A protective suit will offer additional protection. If you call in a professional, look for someone who is certified by an organization such as the IICRC (Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration Certification) or NORMI (National Organization of Remediators and Mold Inspectors).
After all the protective equipment is in place, the cleanup can begin. Affected drywall and other items should be carefully bagged and removed. Wall studs and other items that cannot be easily removed must be thoroughly scrubbed with hot, soapy water and scrub brush. HEPA filtered sanders, chisels, or other tools may be called for if the mold is extensive. If building studs or other parts of the building’s structure have significant mold, you may want to consult with a professional contractor to ensure the structure of the building has not been weakened. Professional remediators typically follow up with disinfectant to kill any bacteria that may be growing alongside the mold. This will help prevent any mold toxicity symptoms from starting.
After all affected items have been removed or scrubbed, the area must be thoroughly dried to ensure any remaining spores do not regrow. If you have clothing, furniture, or other items that have been affected, it may be possible to salvage them, but you may wish to consult with someone who specializes in restoration of items damage by mold so as to avoid further damage.
After the mold has been removed, there may be some lingering odors from the mold, as well as the chemicals that may have been used during cleanup. An ozone generator can remove most odors, even those that are difficult to get rid of. When using them at high levels, they can be dangerous, so be sure to evacuate the house, then air it out for twenty minutes before returning. It’s important to understand that ozone air purifiers do not actually capture pollutants. Rather, they remove pollutants by oxidizing them. Regardless of what kind of air purification you choose, it’s no substitute for removing the mold that is releasing the spores.
Finally, if you have mold, there is a very good chance you have a moisture problem. It may be a plumbing leak, or flooding, or condensation, or something else. Whatever it is, it’s critical to address the moisture problem in order to ensure the mold does not have an opportunity to regrow.
It is important to note that removing mold requires the use of many chemicals. If you are in advanced stages of adrenal fatigue, adrenal exhaustion, or if you have liver congestions, extracellular matrix pollution, or history of multiple chemical sensitivities, these chemicals can wreak havoc on your body. It is important to wear as much protection as possible, as well as vacate the area for up to a week while the fumes dissipate.
Sufferers of advanced Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome are particularly vulnerable to retarded recovery in the presence of mold in the home. Exposure to toxic mold during the clean up period may trigger more extensive toxification of their systems, as well as adrenal crashes. Often time, the best solution is simply to move residence if mold is suspected because no matter how much one does, it is very hard to remove 100% of all toxic mold. Healthy people can live with a small amount of mold, but sensitive people cannot.
© Copyright 2017 Michael Lam, M.D. All Rights Reserved.