More Than A Moldy Building
Much More Than Mold In A Moldy Building
There is so much more than mold in water-damaged buildings that cause this biotoxin response that we call a "mold" illness/susceptibility. It is technically more appropriate to call it CIRS (chronic inflammatory response syndrome) due to a water-damaged building, rather than "mold related illness" or toxic mold illness or mold susceptibility. However, "mold related illness" is largely what it is called by people. It is important that people realize they are dealing with much more than mold. Water-damaged buildings have a variety of nasties growing in them and releasing biotoxins from living organisms as well as toxins from the building materials. They contain a variety of pathogens inflammagens and toxigens. Secondary metabolites of mold and bacteria have been found in carpeting, heating, ventilation and air-conditioning systems, wallpaper and dust.
Culprits in a Water Damage Building That Cause the Illness
- Mold spores
- Bacteria ((thermophillic actinobacteria (formerly called actiomycetes) - gram positive bacteria associated with adverse health effects in water-damaged buildings)) and non-tuberculous mycobacteria species are examples found in one study. The actiobacteria were also found to be a source of musty smells in a nother study.
- Endotoxins (aka lipopolysaccharides, or LPS; cell wall components of gram-negative bacteria)
- Amoebas and other possible parasites if contaminated water is invloved
- Beta-glucans (diverse group of polysaccharides found in the cells of certain types of yeast, algae, bacteria, and fungi.)
- Hemolysins (toxins produced by bacteria and fungi, capable of destroying red blood cells)
- Microbial, fungal volatile organic compounds (VOCs; organic compounds released by organisms and is seen more often when they are stressed)
- Building material organic volatile compounds (volatile compounds released by new or water-damaged buildings that is sometimes called "off gassing".
The chemicals in the building materials can create an environement that alters the oranisms growth, and increases the production of toxins. You can have a release of mycotoxins, bacterial endotoxins, beta glucans, mannans, proteinases, hemolysins, c-type lectins, spirocyclic drimanes, and volatile organic compounds. It is thought that the combination of these various toxins from a variety of organisms is what causes the illness. Indeed, mycotoxins which are the toxins molds make, have been identified in body fluids as well as tissue samples of people exposed to water-damaged buildings. Indeed in one clinical study Ochratoxin A (a mycotoxin) was found in 83% of over 100 individuals tested with chronic illness and a history of water-damaged building exposure. Since it is so hard to test for all of the offending organisms and their biotoxins they release into the environment and there are not tests to test for many of them in body fluids, it is easier to test for the inflammatory reaction to these toxic elements. I will talk about this in a later blog.
Why So Many Buildings Are Moldy
Buildings need to be able to convert moisture to vapor and remove it through breathable materials. However, most modern buildings in the United States are bonded with the waste product chemicals of petroleum. These products hold moisture long enough to start mold growing, as well as decrease the energy efficiency and longevity of the buildings . Ultimately, these buildings fall apart from moisture and the growth of mold and bacteria on the materials. It is thought that 2/3 of the materials used in the United States in construction of buildings do not qualify to convert moisture to vapor and are therfore going to become moldy over time.
There are sheething/insulation materials that do qualify to convert mositure into vapor and they can be used by people with common building skills. They are used in other countries and beginning to be used in the United States also.
What Mold Really Is
Mold can grow on virtually any organic material as long as moisture and oxygen are present. There are molds that grow on wood, paper, carpet, food, and insulation. Because mold eats or digests what it is growing on, it can damage a building and its furnishings. If left unchecked, mold eventually can cause structural damage to building materials.
The Bottom Line
Other Illness That May Cause Similar Symptoms
Learning About Mold Susceptibility
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