Understanding what mold is and how it causes negative reactions in some people can be confusing. There are many differences of opinion about the nature of mold, the kind of symptoms that can be attributed to molds, and the type of treatments available to physicians who diagnose and treat mold-related illnesses.
Mold is defined in a variety of ways, depending upon the author, country, state, source and context. The definition of mold-related illnesses also varies according to source, locality and context.
We are surrounded by molds, which can be found in hundreds of thousands of diverse types. For present purposes, we will outline some of the most commonly reported and pathogenic molds. Our intent is to present additional information that you can compare and contrast.
The definition offered by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).
“Molds are fungi that can be found both indoors and outdoors. No one knows how many species of fungi exist, but estimates range from tens of thousands to perhaps 300,000 or more. Molds grow best in warm, damp, and humid conditions, and spread and reproduce by making spores. Mold spores can survive harsh environmental conditions, such as dry conditions that do not support normal mold growth.”
This definition is from http://www.moldbacteriafacts.com
Mold (or mould) is a term used to refer to fungi that grow in the form of multicellular thread-like structures called hyphae. Fungi that exist as single cells are called yeasts. Some molds and yeasts cause disease or food spoilage, others play an important role in biodegradation or in the production of various foods, beverages, antibiotics and enzymes.
Mold is also found in damp building materials where it often appears like stains and comes in a variety of colours. A must smell is an indication of microbial growth even when there is no visible growth. If mold is allowed to grow in homes or offices it can contribute to poor indoor air quality. Some molds such as the Dry Rot Fungus, Serpula lacrymans, are highly destructive. For more details about dry rot fungus read Occurrence and Significance of Dry Rot Fungus, Serpula lacrymans.
Mold growth requires moisture. The sources of moisture could be Washing, cooking, air humidifiers, condensation or leaks from plumbing or from the outside. Poor ventilation contributes to higher humidity levels and leads to condensation, which also allows mold growth.
Molds release small “spores” into the air. So, when mold grows indoors, the number of mold spores and fragments is usually higher indoors than it is outdoors. These spores are small enough that people can actually inhale them deep into the lungs. Inhalation of spores poses risk of developing respiratory problems. With the exception of winter months mold spores are always present outdoors.
This definition is from The US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/3055750
“The term “moulds” refers to an ecological category, not to a taxonomic or morphological one. Moulds can be characterized by 1. ruderal life strategy, 2. filamentous growth form, 3. fast growth, 4. high sporulation capacity, 5. predominantly vegetative reproduction, 6. parasexual cycle, 7. sensitivity to soil fungistasis, 8. ubiquitous occurrence, 9. cosmopolitan distribution, 10. production of a rich spectrum of metabolites (including diversified secondary metabolites, in contrast to yeasts) released into substrates resp. media. These properties qualify the moulds and antagonists of man, but also as particularly useful tools of general and industrial microbiology.”
Each of us is surrounded by micotoxins every day. Mold may be present almost anywhere. Where mold is present, you will also find mycotoxins. Mycotoxins have been documented as a cause of to individuals and all living organisms. Mycotoxins are inhaled, absorbed through thee eyes and skin, eaten, and handled daily.
Every one of us will benefit from awareness of mycotoxins in our environment and of the harm they can bring to anyone. The presence of toxic mold in your home or workplace might be a thinly veiled danger to you and your family. As we will explain, mold and the mycotoxins it produces can cause a number of symptoms and illnesses. Further, removing mold from a home or commercial building is difficult and is typically very expensive.
The more completely we understand the harmful effects of mold and mycotoxins the more prepared we are to make informed decisions about our control of our environment. While it has been well documented that molds are not harmful, equally documented is the fact that mycotoxins are harmful. Many of the harmful health effects of exposure to mycotoxins are recognized consistently across a number of regulatory agencies, medical reports and veterinary care.
According to Dr. Shoemaker (a renowned toxicologist), approximately 28 percent of the population is genetically vulnerable to mold toxicity. They have a particular immune response gene, HLA-DR. People with this mold susceptibility gene are far more likely to have an adverse reaction to mold when exposed to a sufficient quantity. In fact, 95 percent of mold illness occurs within this subgroup. Further, within this group, 2 percent are particularly susceptible with a “sicker quicker” variation of the gene. People who are not susceptible are at lower risk of developing mold illness. No one, however, is free of risk of mold illnesses.
Those who are genetically mold susceptible are unable to recognize specific toxins as toxins, such as mold, and the toxins are recirculated throughout their bodies. Most of these people do not know that they have a genetic susceptibility.
Mold illness caused by water-damaged buildings is a serious health problem. This is not about an allergy. Rather, it is a state of chronic inflammation caused by the immune system losing balance. CIRS does not heal on its own, it will not abate, and it will continue to provoke illness until it is properly treated. For these genetically predisposed people, the illness is built into their DNA, and once triggered, the inflammatory response and resulting symptoms can last for years.
Molds may exist in virtually every environment. They can be found year-round indoors or outdoors. Mold growth is, however, facilitated by warm and humid conditions. Outdoors, mold is most commonly found in shady, damp areas or places where leaves or other vegetation is decomposing. Indoors, they can be found where humidity levels are high, such as basements or showers. One popular host for mold development is potting soil around indoor plants. It can also be found in motor vehicles that have been in a flood, or that have a leak or a window that was open during a rain storm.
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