How toxic mold acts on the body
According to ( Jay ) Portnoy, (MD, a physician at Children of Mercy Hospital in Kansas City, Mo., and a fellow of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology (AAAI)), mold attacks in one of four ways:
First, you could be allergic to it. This occurs in 10% to 20% of cases. A skin or blood test would pinpoint it as an allergic substance.
Second, substances called ergosterol and glucan in the walls of the mold cell can cause hay fever-like symptoms. You don't have to be allergic -- anyone could react to these.
Third, molds release organic compounds such as benzene and acetone, which would raise alarms in any workplace and are linked to nausea, dizziness, and headaches. Again, you don't have to be allergic.
And last, molds, like other organisms, don't want to compete for food and nurturing, so they expel mycotoxins to kill competitors such as bacteria. In the case of helpful mycotoxins, we call these antibiotics and use them to help us. But in the case of some molds, the mycotoxins target cells within our bodies and may cause problems such as cancer, stillbirths, and bleeding in infants. Stachybotrys makes a lot of these harmful mycotoxins.
From Sept. 15, 2003, WebMD
USC Professor of Medicine (Alhambra, CA) and Mold Researcher, Dr. Kaye Kilburn
: Arch Environ Health. 2003 Jul;58(7):390-8. Related Articles,
Indoor mold exposure associated with neurobehavioral and pulmonary
impairment: a preliminary report.
University of Southern California, Keck School of Medicine,
Environmental Sciences Laboratory, Alhambra, California 91803, USA.
Recently, patients who have been exposed indoors to mixed molds,
spores, and mycotoxins have reported asthma, airway irritation and
bleeding, dizziness, and impaired memory and concentration, all of
which suggest the presence of pulmonary and neurobehavioral
problems. The author evaluated whether such patients had measurable
pulmonary and neurobehavioral impairments by comparing consecutive
cases in a series vs. a referent group. Sixty-five consecutive
outpatients exposed to mold in their respective homes in Arizona,
California, and Texas were compared with 202 community subjects who
had no known mold or chemical exposures. Balance, choice reaction
time, color discrimination, blink reflex, visual fields, grip,
hearing, problem-solving, verbal recall, perceptual motor speed, and
memory were measured. Medical histories, mood states, and symptom
frequencies were recorded with checklists, and spirometry was used
to measure various pulmonary volumes and flows. Neurobehavioral
comparisons were made after individual measurements were adjusted
for age, educational attainment, and sex. Significant differences
between groups were assessed by analysis of variance; a p value of
less than 0.05 was used for all statistical tests. The mold-exposed
group exhibited decreased function for balance, reaction time, blink-
reflex latency, color discrimination, visual fields, and grip,
compared with referents. The exposed group's scores were reduced for
the following tests: digit-symbol substitution, peg placement, trail
making, verbal recall, and picture completion. Twenty-one of 26
functions tested were abnormal. Airway obstructions were found, and
vital capacities were reduced. Mood state scores and symptom
frequencies were elevated. The author concluded that indoor mold
exposures were associated with neurobehavioral and pulmonary
impairments that likely resulted from the presence of mycotoxins,
such as trichothecenes.