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is visible mold, there are also mold toxins.
An old wall at the Tuileries
Garden, Paris. Mould toxins in buildings damaged by moisture are
considerably more prevalent than was previously thought. (Credit:
ScienceDaily (Dec. 15, 2008) — Mold toxins in buildings damaged by moisture
are considerably more prevalent than was previously thought, according to
new international research. Erica Bloom from the Division of Medical
Microbiology at Lund University in Sweden has contributed to research in
this field by analyzing dust and materials samples from buildings damaged by
mold. Virtually all of the samples contained toxins from mold (mould).
“Previously it was claimed that the occurrence of mould does not
necessarily mean that there are toxins present. But they are! On the
contrary, we can assume that wherever there is visible mould, there are also
mould toxins,” says Erica Bloom.
And toxins produced by mould are more potent than was previously thought. It
has now been shown, for instance, that mould toxins (mycotoxins) not only
directly kill cells but can also affect immune cells in a way that increases
the risk of allergies. Even incredibly tiny amounts of these toxins can do
this, as little as a few picograms (a picogram is one millionth of a
millionth of a gram).
New research also shows that mould releases extremely small particles that
remain suspended in the air, and can get into our lungs much more easily
than the spores that have previously been focused on. This can increase
exposure to mould and mycotoxins hundreds of times over compared with
previous calculations. And mycotoxins have further been shown in laboratory
studies to have a synergistic effect: the effect of two toxins is not merely
1 + 1 but much greater.
Using methods from analytical chemistry, Erica Bloom analyzed dust sample
and samples from construction materials such as molding, drywall, and
wallpaper from buildings damaged by mould. She acquired nearly all of the
samples from professional damage assessors.
“We looked at 6-7 different mycotoxins and found them in a majority of the
samples. And since there are at least 400 sorts of mycotoxins, what we have
seen is probably just the tip of the iceberg,” she says.
Mould in buildings is a phenomenon that has been known since the times of
the Old Testament. In Leviticus mention is made of spots that constitute “a
fretting leprosy in the house,” and should be scraped off and thrown away
“in some unclean place.”
“Actually, we haven’t made all that much progress today,” maintains Erica
Bloom. “We know that people are sickened by buildings damaged by moisture,
but whether this is primarily caused by mycotoxins, bacteria, or gases given
off by the moist building materials, this we don’t know exactly. We should
therefore observe the principle of caution and renovate the building as soon
as a moisture problem or mould is found.”
Vetenskapsrådet (The Swedish
Research Council) (2008, December 15). Mould Toxins More Prevalent And
Hazardous Than Thought. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 17, 2008,