Synopsis: A number of health issues may be attributed to poor and potentially toxic indoor air quality.
Many people assume that heavy metals or pesticides would be much more dangerous. The fact is that mold is a very significant health issue. Despite the fact that molds have been around for a very long time, humanity has not developed an increased tolerance against them. A part of the reason why is because molds tend to mutate quickly.
Cryptococcus was once endemic in the deserts of the southwest in America. Now there is a new species - one that was accidentally released in Vancouver, Canada. It is spreading from the northwest throughout America. It is a mutated form and is highly pathogenic to people. Approximately 25-30% of those who become infected with it die. When it mutates it avoids the human immune system. The other thing it does is produce chemicals that suppress the human immune system, we may never become resistant to these organisms.
Bacteria, a Health Risk Related to Mold
Growing right next to mold are what is referred to as, 'gram negative,' and, 'gram positive,' bacteria. As with mold, the bacteria need moisture and organic material to live and the synergistic action between mold and bacteria increases and worsens inflammatory health conditions. The gram positive types of bacteria are being completely overlooked. The gram positive bacteria consist of several, 'bacilli,' 'cocci,' and one group referred to as the, 'actinomycetes.' The actinomycetes contain a number of different groups of bacteria such as mycobacterium.
There are 139 additional species of mycobacterium that can grown in the environment. Eleven to twelve of those grow in indoor environments are very serious human pathogens that have the ability to cause a condition called, 'mycobacterium avium complex,' a very dangerous condition. The condition causes serious lung infection and may spread throughout a person's body. A number of the symptoms are related to those of hypersensitivity pneumonitis. The condition may continue to develop into a condition similar to asthma and then into sarcoidosis - particularly of the mediastinum.
The other group are the, 'streptomyces,' which give rise to a number of antibiotics. Streptomyces are a source of many of the chemotherapeutic agents in use today as well. The organisms grow in indoor environments.
Gram negative bacteria are also very harmful. When these bacteria die they release their cell walls. The cell walls are referred to as, 'lipopolysaccharide,' or, 'endotoxins.' Endotoxins may severely exacerbate asthma and other conditions - they are highly inflammatory. The inflammation may also affect a person's brain and other organs.
Cleaning up After Mold and Bacteria
If you have identified that you have a problem with mold, it is vital that you stop water intrusion and remediate the issue at its source. For example, if you have a wall that is infested in the middle of your house between two rooms it is recommended that you wall off the entire area from the rest of the house. What this means is you drape it with plastic and tie the plastic down with masking tape so the area will not contaminate the rest of the house. Then clean all of the organic materials such as particleboard, wood, or carpeting, as well as any affected metal objects - replace them. Make sure you hire a contractor who uses a HEPA filtration machine to trap minute particles and that the contractor is meticulous when they use it.
If you have only a small area of surface mold you most likely won't have to call in an expert. Only attempt to clean the area if it is limited to a small surface area. You cannot clean mold that is deep-rooted. Do not use bleach or ammonia to clean the mold - there is a reason why. If you use bleach or ammonia all you will do is kill the mold, but you will leave the carcass behind. The carcass will disintegrate and then release toxins into the air you breathe. After water is reintroduced to your environment, the mold will grow back to the surface you just cleaned.
On minor visible surfaces with mold such as a piece of furniture or a baseboard, use vinegar and baking soda instead. All you need is a couple of tablespoons of baking soda in a quart of water. Use vinegar right out of the bottle. Use the vinegar first and follow it with the baking soda. The vinegar will kill the mold and bacteria, although it will leave a residue. Scrub the surface to get rid of the residue.
Health Issues, Mold and Bacteria
A number of health issues may be attributed to poor and potentially toxic indoor air quality. Among these health issue are:
If you experience any of these issues, it might be worthwhile to take your indoor air quality into consideration, as well as the possibility that these health issues are related to mold. Residential dampness and mold are associated with substantial and statistically significant increases in both respiratory infections and bronchitis.
It is important to determine whether or not the health issues you experience are due to mold so you can receive appropriate treatment. The majority of doctors simply prescribe antibiotics for say, chronic sinusitis. Yet if a person's sinusitis is caused by bacteria and mold growth in their home, it is not going to simply clear up. The next step is commonly to prescribe either corticosteroids or prednisone, which could actually make a person's condition worse.
What is needed is a culture performed by a good Ear, Nose, and Throat (ENT) doctor to receive a diagnosis of that is going on inside the person's sinuses. A mere two weeks of using corticosteroids or less increases a person's risk of experiencing other types of infections. Corticosteroids inhibit the oxidative burst produced by macrophages. Macrophages eat mold spores and produce an oxidative burst killing the spores and bacteria. The corticosteroids do not inhibit the extra oxidative burst produced by macrophages. The macrophages contain live spores and bacteria and go anywhere else in a person's body, increasing the person's risk of other infections - particularly fungal infections. Corticosteroids also have other, well-documented side effects such as increasing a person's risk of cataracts, osteoporosis, and the disruption of a person's hormone balance.
Mold Health Problems in Children
Toxic mold is harmful to people of all ages, but mold in the home and school can be especially dangerous for children.
Mold Exposure Results in Social Security Disability Benefits
In a landmark case a woman has been granted disability benefits for mold-related injuries. The Social Security Administration judge in the case accepted expert medical testimony that linked physical and cognitive injuries to mold exposures.
Sick Building Syndrome
You can develop life-threatening diseases by continuing to work in a building where you may be sensitive to chemical substances, toxic mold, fungi, and other airborne pathogens.