When searching the dangers of mold, the first piece of information from Google is an excerpt from the New York Times on how “mold can cause health problems that range from itching eyes, sneezing and coughing to serious allergic reactions, asthma attacks and even permanent lung damage.” Just a few spots down another site makes claims that certain mold can cause cancer or whole body infections.
Claim: Mold can cause serious health problems.
Molds are everywhere in nature, and mold spores are even common in houses and the workplace. Mold thrives in warm and damp conditions. When spores are present in large quantities, they can pose a health risk to humans.
In 2004 the Institute of Medicine (IOM) found there was sufficient evidence to link indoor exposure to mold with upper respiratory tract symptoms, cough, and wheeze in otherwise healthy people; with asthma symptoms in people with asthma; and with hypersensitivity pneumonitis in individuals susceptible to that immune-mediated condition. The IOM also found limited or suggestive evidence linking indoor mold exposure and respiratory illness in otherwise healthy children. In 2009, the World Health Organization issued additional guidance, the WHO Guidelines for Indoor Air Quality: Dampness and Mould [PDF – 2.52 MB]. Other recent studies have suggested a potential link of early mold exposure to development of asthma in some children, particularly among children who may be genetically susceptible to asthma development, and that selected interventions that improve housing conditions can reduce morbidity from asthma and respiratory allergies, but more research is needed in this regard.
NOT ALL MOLD IS CREATED EQUAL
“Toxic mold” can be a bit misleading. There are anywhere from tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands different varieties of mold. 1Basic Facts. (2014, May 22). Retrieved November 11, 2014. Not all of these contain toxins and even the molds that contain toxins don’t always produce those toxins.
Just because a particular mold can produce toxins doesn’t mean it will. Even if the mold is producing toxins, a person must breathe in a sufficient dose to be affected. It is highly unlikely that you could inhale enough mold in your home or office to receive a toxic dose.2Johns Hopkins: Lung Disorders on mold allergies: Special Reports. (2008, May 22). Retrieved November 11, 2014.
- Alternaria – “Sensitivity to Alternaria has been increasingly recognized as a risk factor for the development and persistence of asthma, asthma severity, and potentially fatal asthma exacerbations.”4Bush, R. K., & Prochnau, J. J. (2004). Alternaria-induced asthma. Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, 113(2), 227-234.
5Bush, R. K., Portnoy, J. M., Saxon, A., Terr, A. I., & Wood, R. A. (2006). The medical effects of mold exposure. Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology,117(2), 326-333.
|↑1, ↑3||Basic Facts. (2014, May 22). Retrieved November 11, 2014.|
|↑2||Johns Hopkins: Lung Disorders on mold allergies: Special Reports. (2008, May 22). Retrieved November 11, 2014.|
|↑4||Bush, R. K., & Prochnau, J. J. (2004). Alternaria-induced asthma. Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, 113(2), 227-234.|
|↑5||Bush, R. K., Portnoy, J. M., Saxon, A., Terr, A. I., & Wood, R. A. (2006). The medical effects of mold exposure. Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology,117(2), 326-333.|