Indoor Dampness Levels and Fungal Allegens and Toxins

Indoor dampness levels were recorded at a level of 10-50%, prevalent in office buildings, day cares, and schools. High humidity, condensation, and water damage, either past or present, promote the survival and growth of fungi which result in higher exposure to fungal allegens, toxins, and irritants. These damp environments also cause bacteria endotoxins. The damp materials also increase their chemical degradation resulting in more emissions of volatile organic compounds, such as formaldehyde.

More Information available at World Health Organization.

Allergic Rhinitis Or Conjunctivitis

“Signs include allergic shiners, Dennie lines (the accentuated lines below the margin of lower eyelids), frequent otitis media, and pale and swollen turbinates. The conjunctivae are often injected, with prominent palpebral conjunctivae and/or frequent tearing. Persons who chronically breathe through their mouth typically have narrow and elevated palates, enlarged tonsils, and a cobblestone appearance of the posterior pharyngeal wall. Children often have elongated adenoid facies with signs of overbite. They often speak with heavily nasal voices.”
Quoted from emedicine.com

Mold and Health Problems

As many people know, molds are a common cause of outdoor allergies.  However, indoor allergies are also caused by reactions to mold colonies that are not visible to the eye. All molds have the potential to cause health problems, specifically allergies, irritations, and sometimes toxins. Allergic reactions are caused by inhalation of spores. Symptoms include sneezing, runny nose, eye irritation, and sometimes skin rashes in external  reaction.  These reactions may be immediate or delayed. Mold is also a common cause of asthma attacks. The effects of mold on individuals is an ongoing health issue.

Information found at Environmental Protection Agency.

Battling Mold

An article on 25 ways (convenient number to stop on) to combat mold. There are some good points: don’t use bleach, find the source of the water.

The article ends with, “A mold-safe building is not a one-time effort.” Discouraging.

Mold’s Effect on Individuals

Most commonly, molds affect many people by allergenic reactions. Symptoms include nasal stuffiness, eye irritation, sneezing, wheezing, and skin irritation. However, many people report more severe reactions to mold. These symptoms go beyond the basic skin and respiratory irritations to include fever, and asthmatic attacks. Chronic lung disease, such as obstructive lung disease, develop mold infections inside of the lungs. The 2004 Institute of Medicine found evidence to link upper respitory diseases to otherwise healthy individuals.

Mold in lungs.

More information available at Center for Disease Control.

The European World Health Organization

In October, 2007, European specialists met in Bonn in order to discuss the problem of microbial pollution. Indoor pollution is caused by hundreds of species of bacteria and fungi, but most particularly filamentous fungi—mould. The Guidelines for Indoor Air Quality: Dampness and Mould discusses the most recent scientific evidence on health problems caused from mould which concludes that exposure to indoor pollution causes increased respiratory problems, allergies, and asthma, as well as agitation of the immunity system. This document also discusses common conditions in which mould thrives  and ways to control it. The best way to avoid health issues due to microbial pollution is to prevent excessive moisture from accumulating visible or within walls and foundations.

European Health Minister at 60th regional meeting in Moscow (September, 2010)

More Information available at World Health Organization.

Why is Mold Growing in My Home?

In a natural environment, mold is part of the nature’s cyclical process. Mold works to break down organic material, which is great if you are creating homemade organic mulch for your garden. However, in your home, this is not necessarily a good thing. Mold reproduces by microscopic airborne spores. When these spores blow into the house and land on dusty surfaces or organic material (wood, paper, fiber, clothe, etc.), they continue to cultivate. Warm moist areas are best at culturing mold, but any form of moisture will work.

Wet conditions favor the development of fungal blights of tomato. Mold is everywhere.

(Photo available from ISU Plant Disease Clinic)

Information found at Environmental Protection Agency.