Can mold make you sick? Separating the fact from the fiction.
Over the last 20 years many different claims about the potential health effects have surfaced in the media. These claims have ran the spectrum from life threatening ailments such as cancer and lung hemorrhaging to benign allergic responses. Where does the truth lie?
Current research from the CDC, EPA and other leading research establishments have failed to find a connection between exposure to toxic mold and severe health responses. The reason is straightforward. It is a question of exposure rather than toxicity. While many molds are capable of producing toxins, a person simply cannot be exposed to a sufficient quantity of these toxins to produce a measurable effect. Laboratory studies have found that even animals exposed to extremely high levels of airborne toxic mold do not absorb a medically significant quantity of mold into their system.
Does this mean that mold isn’t an issue?
While the toxic effects of mold on people is insignificant, the allergic effect is not. Many people are allergic to mold and will experience negative health effects if exposed to elevated quantities of mold. Wheezing, shortness of breath, congestion, headaches, etc. are all possible side effects to mold exposure. Thankfully, this means that if you remove the mold from our home or building, your body’s response should return to normal.
Exposure to mold has also been implicated in sinus infections, asthma and other negative health effects. Recent studies have indicated that up to 90% of sinus infections are due to a response to mold exposure.
What about less common health effects from mold exposure?
The majority of people with healthy immune systems will only feel the health effects of mold from an allergy, sinus or asthma related issue. However, individuals with compromised immune systems can suffer from mold infections. For example, bone marrow transplant patients often die from exposure to mold spores. However, the immune system of these individuals is extremely compromised and even the naturally occurring mold spores in the outside air would prove deadly.
Additionally, mold infections can occasionally occur in otherwise healthy individuals. These cases are extraordinarily rare and not a concern for the average person.