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Health & Fitness Magazine (national USA health magazine), OCTOBER/November 2O11 21

Exposure to Elevated Levels of Indoor Mold
Can Cause Severe Health Problems
by Phillip Fry

     Humans and pets suffer severe health consequences from exposure to elevated levels of indoor airborne mold spores thrown into the breathing air by

molds growing on and inside walls, wallpaper, ceilings, floors, carpeting, furniture, window air conditioners, heating/cooling ducts, attics, crawl spaces,

and basements.

     The top twelve mold health problems, according to the U.S. Government’s General Accounting Office “Indoor Mold” report (Sept. 30, 2008),

which summarized thirty-two (32) federal government mold studies and reports, are:

     1. Asthma, asthma triggers, or asthma symptoms (such as episodes or attacks)

     2. Upper respiratory tract symptoms

     3. Eye symptoms

     4. Skin symptoms

     5. Allergies or allergic reactions

     6. Wheeze

     7. Cough

     8. Difficulty breathing, trouble breathing, or shortness of breath

     9. Infections (including those affecting people who have chronic lung disease).

   10. Adverse effects to the nervous system

   11. Fungal colonization or opportunistic infections in immune-compromised individuals

   12. Hypersensitivity pneumonitis.

     Ninety percent of all chronic sinus problems are caused by exposure to mold, according to a Mayo Clinic study.

     Mold-sensitive individuals can experience health difficulties after only a few hours to a few days of being in a mold-infested building.

People differ significantly in their sensitivity and health reaction to mold exposure.

     Prolonged exposure to mold infestation cause such serious medical problems as chronic fatigue-like symptoms; immune suppression;

central nervous system dysfunction (vertigo, memory failure, irritability, concentration, and verbal dysfunction); gastro-intestinal tract,

heart, liver, and kidney damage; and even cancer (caused by carcinogenic mold mycotoxins), according to E. Johanning, M.D.; P. Landsgergis, Ph.D.,

Clinical Findings Related to Indoor Fungal Exposure.

     Aspergillosis is an infection, growth, or caused by exposure to the commonly-found Aspergillus mold, resulting in serious lung diseases such as:

    • Pulmonary Aspergillosis (allergic bronchopulmonary type) that usually develops in people who already have lung problems (such as asthma or

cystic fibrosis);

    • Aspergilloma, which is a growth (fungus ball) that develops in an area of previous lung disease or lung scarring (such as tuberculosis or lung

abscess); and

    • Pulmonary Aspergillosis (invasive type) that is a serious infection with pneumonia that can spread to other parts of the body, but almost

exclusively in people with weakened immune systems. Source: National Institutes of Health.

     Anecdotally (e.g., in the famous CBS-TV Dan Rather "48 Hours" mold report about brain damage to the husband and son of Melinda

Ballard because of living in their Stachybotrysinfested Dripping Springs, Texas, house), some mold and health professionals believe that exposure to

the toxic mold species Stachybotrys chartarum can cause headaches and damage the mold victims’ ability to think and remember.

     Over a 5-year period, one Chicago family complained of headaches, sore throats, flu-like symptoms, recurring colds, diarrhea, fatigue, dermatitis

and general malaise. Air sampling of this home revealed spores of Stachybotrys. The fungus was found growing on moist organic debris in an

uninsulated cold air duct and on some wood fiber ceiling material. The home had a chronic moisture problem that favored mold growth. Extracts from

the duct debris and contaminated building materials were toxic to test animals. When the mold problem was corrected, the family’s health symptoms


     One controlled study concluded that exposure to Stachybotrys chartarum and Aspergillus versicolor was responsible for various pulmonary

diseases among office works in a water-damaged building. See Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, 1998: 40: 241-249.

     The following individuals appear to be at higher risk for adverse health effects of molds, according to the California Department of Health: infants

and children, elderly, immune compromised patients (people with HIV infection, cancer chemotherapy, liver disease, etc.), pregnant women, and

individuals with existing respiratory conditions, such as allergies, multiple chemical sensitivity, and asthma.

     Protect your health by:

    (1) preventing mold growth by promptly fixing roof, window, plumbing and basement leaks;

    (2) complete drying of flooded rooms within 24 hours;

    (3) quarterly cleaning inside window air conditioners and central heating/cooling systems; and

    (4) looking for and removing all molds in your home and workplace.

    Phillip Fry is a Certified Environmental Hygienist, Certified Mold Inspector, and Certified Mold Remediator with over 12 years of experience in

doing mold inspection, mold testing, and mold remediation. Mr. Fry is author of five mold advice ebooks including Mold Health Guide and Mold

Legal Guide. Visit his website, or his new website: You can email Mr. Fry at



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