Mold toxicity is often the end result with constant exposure to mold of a toxic substance. A common misconception among allergists who are untrained in this type of toxicity levels in humans, which is technically not their area of expertise unless they have trained specifically in environmental medicine with their background in immunology, is to do general allergen testing.
Most tests usually result in an unequivocal result, a 2+ or less. This induces some physicians to order allergy shots, regardless. These shots are absolutely worthless (and could possibly be harmful) to a person who has been heavily exposed to these mycotoxins as they are already in a state of toxicity. If anything, this could exacerbate the problem. Because many doctors are not trained in this field, they may try to “guess” at a diagnosis.
In laymen’s terms, molds produce mycotoxins. These substances, although unseen by the naked eye, are ingested and then enter the body through the skin, mucous and airways. Once ingested, mold has the requirements to colonize and spread. In doing this, it can compromise the immune system and damage everyday processes of the body.
Mold and yeast are interchangeable only in their dimorphic state, which is often a big misconception, although both are fungi. There has been a theory of a connection between Autism Spectrum Disorder onset and Candida Albicans in the body. New studies are being conducted during the first quarter of 2006. Updates will follow.
Fungi, which include yeasts, moulds, smuts and mushrooms, are responsible for causing four types of mycotic (fungal) disease:
1. Hypersensitivity – an allergic reaction to moulds and spores;
2. Mycotoxicosis – poisoning by food products contaminated by fungi
3. Mycetismus – the ingestion of preformed toxin (toadstool poisoning)
4. Infection (systemic) – (Mycotoxicosis; the subject below)
The following are a list of the most common symptoms of fungal exposure (bear in mind, people never fit all of below criteria). Most people with some forms of Mycotoxicosis meet at least 8 (recent symptoms) of the following criteria:
- Fibromyalgia/mps (and several correlated symptoms)
- Respiratory distress, coughing, sneezing, sinusitis
- Difficulty swallowing, choking, spitting up (vomiting) mucous
- Hypersensitivity pneumonitis
- Burning in the throat and lungs (similar to acid reflux and often misdiagnosed as such)
- Asthmatic signs; wheezing, shortness in breath, coughing, burning in lungs, etc.
- Irritable bowel syndrome, nausea, diarrhea, sharp abdominal pains, stomach lesions
- Bladder, liver, spleen, or kidney pain
- Dark or painful urine
- Dirt-like taste in mouth, coated tongue
- Food allergies/leaky gut syndrome/altered immunity
- Memory loss; brain fog, slurred speech, occasionally leading to dementia
- Vision problems
- Swollen lymph nodes
- Large boils on neck (often a sign of anaphylaxis)
- Yellowing of nails, ridges, or white marks under nail
- Thyroid irregularities, sometimes leading to complete dysfunction; adrenal problems
- Anxiety/depression, heart palpitations – confusion, PTSD
- Extreme blood pressure, cholesterol, or triglycerides irregularities
- Ringing in ears, balance problems (very common), dizziness, loss of hearing (aspergillus niger)
- Chronic fatigue (also included under this classification directional confusion)
- Intermittent face flushing; almost always systemic, Called the Mylar Flush (neurological))
- Night head sweats, and drooling while sleeping, profuse sweating
- Multiple chemical sensitivity; only upon exposure to Stachybotrys and Chaetomium
- Nose bleeds (stachybotrys)
- Bruising/scarring easily; rash or hives, bloody lesions all over the skin (Often systemic, see images; skin)
- Reproductive system complications; infertility, changes in menstrual cycles, miscarriage
- Sudden weight changes (Detoxifier genotypes tend to gain weight, non-detoxifier genotypes tend to lose weight)
- Hair loss, very brittle nails, temporary loss of fingerprints (in rare cases)Joint/muscle stiffness and pain
- Irregular heart beat/heart attack
- Seizures, inadvertent body jerking, twitching, inadvertent facial movements or numbness in face
- Hypersensitivity when re-exposed to molds, which can lead to anaphylaxis
- Anaphylaxis upon re-exposure to mycotoxin producing molds
- Death, in extreme cases
Note: Despite inaccurate and misleading reports by theorists regarding immuno-compromised, babies, and the elderly being more susceptible, this is a big misconception as exposure to the T-2 mycotoxins found in many types of current indoor molds will poison anyone in time; no one is immune. The reason for this conflicting information is that studies have never been conducted to prove this. If so called experts are going to make such a broad and misleading statement, they may as well say that this same category of people is more susceptible to SARS, West Nile Virus, AIDS, and cancer. The T-2 mycotoxins found in many of these molds are the exact same T-2 mycotoxins that have killed widespread groups of innocent people with Yellow Rain, a biological warfare agent.
Different mold species can have varying health effects, but it is important to remember that any excessive mold growth needs to be taken care of, regardless of the species. Any excessive mold growth can lead to increased allergies, toxicity, and house/building structural problems.
Aspergillus is the most common genus of fungi in our environment with more than 160 different species of mold. Sixteen of these species have been documented as causing human disease. Aspergillosis is now the 2nd most common fungal infection requiring hospitalization in the United States. Exposure to aspergillus can often cause skin rashes and hair loss. Many people seek relief by taking 5,000 mcg. of biotin per day with 3,500 mgs. of MSM. Beware, many vitamins and supplements are made with the aspergillus fermentation process or other types of fungi that the vitamin manufacturers fail to reveal.
The most encountered species causing infection. It is seen abundantly in decomposing organic material, such as self-heating compost piles, since it readily grows at temperatures up to 55 C. People who handle contaminated material often develop hypersensitivity to the spores of Aspergillus and may suffer severe allergic reactions upon exposure.
The 2nd most encountered fungi in cases of Aspergillus infection. It is also known to produce the mycotoxin aflatoxin, one of the most potent carcinogens known to man. In the 1960s, 100,000 turkey poulets in Great Britain died from ingesting contaminated feed. Most countries have established levels for aflatoxin in food. However, the risks associated with airborne exposure are not adequately studied and no exposure standards exist.
The 3rd most common Aspergillus fungi associated with disease and the most common of any Aspergillus species in nature due to it’s ability to grow on a wide variety of substrates. This species may cause a “fungal ball”, which is a condition where the fungus actively proliferates in the human lung, forming a ball. It does so without invading the lung tissue. It has also been linked to hearing problems including tinnitus and hearing loss.
The most common species of Aspergillus. Among skin problems and hair loss, this fungus has been linked to severe abdominal pain, acid reflux, and vomiting.
Stachybotrys chartarum (atra) and Chaetomium globosum
This group of molds can thrive on water damaged, cellulose-rich material in buildings such as sheet rock, paper, ceiling tiles, insulation backing, wallpaper, etc. In the majority of cases where Stachybotrys is found indoors, water damage has gone unnoticed or ignored since it requires extended periods of time with increased levels of moisture for growth to occur. Stachybotrys is usually black and slimy in appearance. Events of water intrusion that are addressed quickly tends to support the growth of more xerophilic fungi such as Penicillium and Aspergillus.
Stachybotrys is another fungi that has the ability to produce mycotoxins, ones that are extremely toxic, suspected carcinogens, and immunosuppressive. Exposure to these mycotoxins can result through inhalation, ingestion, and dermal exposure. Symptoms of exposure include dermatitis, memory loss, balance issues, acid reflux, cough, rhinitis, nose bleeds, cold and flu-like symptoms, headache, bleeding lungs, general malaise, internal lesions, seizures, and fever. Long term exposure has shown that Stachybotrys and Chaetomium can destroy the myelin sheath, leading to autoimmune disease. These are the only two fungi that can also be linked MCS (Multiple Chemical Sensitivity). There is much confusion about Chaetomium, as it can be worse than Stachybotrys since it is so difficult to eradicate. Our mycologist tells us that it is like cast iron while Stachybotrys is easier.
These genera of mold are pigmented dark green to black in the front, and black on the reverse with a velvety to powdery texture. One of the most commonly isolated from indoor and outdoor air, Cladosporium spp. are found on decaying plants, woody plants, food, straw, soil, paint, textiles, and the surface of fiberglass duct liner in the interior of supply ducts.
There are over 30 species in the Cladosporium genus. The most common are C. elatum, C. herbarum, C. sphaerospermum, and C. cladosporioides. These fungi are the causative agents of skin lesions, keratitis, nail fungus, sinusitis, asthma, and pulmonary infections. Acute symptoms of exposure to Cladosporium are edema and bronchiospasms, and chronic exposure may lead to pulmonary emphysema. More commonly, it is a more causative factor for intrinsic asthma.
A common soil fungus and inhabitant on a wide array of plants, this fungi is often found in humidifiers and has been isolated from water-damaged carpets and a variety of other building materials. Human exposure may occur through ingestion of contaminated grains and possibly through the inhalation of spores. Fusarium spp. are frequently involved with eye, skin, and nail infections. More severely it can produce hemorrhagic syndrome (alimentary toxic aleukia) in humans which is characterized by nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, dermatitis, and extensive internal bleeding.
Several species can produce the trichothecene toxins which target the circulatory, alimentary, skin, and nervous systems. Vomitoxin is one such tricothecene mycotoxin that has been associated with outbreaks of acute gastrointestinal illness in humans. Zearalenone is another mycotoxin produced by Fusarium. It is similar in structure to the female sex hormone estrogen and targets the reproductive organs.
These fungi are commonly found in soil, food, cellulose, grains, paint, carpet, wallpaper, interior fiberglass duct insulation, and decaying vegetation. Penicillium may cause hypersensitivity pneumonitis, asthma, and allergic alveolitis in susceptible individuals.
The genus Penicillium has several species. The most common ones include Penicillium chrysogenum, Penicillium citrinum, Penicillium janthinellum, Penicillium marneffei, and Penicillium purpurogenum.
This fungi has been isolated from patients with keratitis, ear infections, pneumonia, endocarditis, peritonitis, and urinary tract infections. Penicillium infections are most commonly exhibited in immunosuppressed individuals. For example, P. marneffei is a fungus abundant in Southeast Asia that typically infects patients with AIDS in this area. Infection with P.marneffei is acquired via inhalation and initially results in a pulmonary infection and then spreads to other areas of the body (lymphatic system, liver, spleen, and bones), and is often fatal. An indication of infection is the appearance of papules that resemble acne on the face, trunk, and extremities.
Penicillim spp. do have the ability to produce mycotoxins. The mycotoxin known as Ochratoxin A, which is nephrotoxic and carcinogenic, may be produced by Penicillium verrucosum. Verrucosidin is another mycotoxin produced by this fungus that exhibits neurotoxity. Penicillic acid is another mycotoxin that is nephrotoxic (causes kidney and liver damage).
Permanent problems sometimes associated with fungal exposure after treatment:
- Short term memory
Note: Many of these symptoms could also be the onset of other illnesses, as well, and only a skilled physician is diagnosed to give you a full and qualified diagnosis. Additionally, it is important to know that much of these symptoms will deplete after vacating the building. Diet, nutrition, and medical assistance are extremely important.
- Ammann, Harriet, Is indoor mold contamination a threat to health?
- Auger PL, Gourdeau P, Miller D, “Clinical experience with patients suffering from a chronic fatigue-like syndrome and repeated upper respiratory infections in relation to airborne molds”. Am. J. of Indust. Medicine 1994; 25:41-42
- Bennett, J. W., Klich, M. (2003). Mycotoxins. Clin. Microbiol. Rev. 16: 497-516 [Abstract] [Full Text]
- Bisby GR., 1943 Stachybotrys Trans Brit Mycol Soc 26:133-143
- Bitnum A, Nosal R. 1999. Stachybotrys chartarum (atra) contamination of the indoor environment: health implications. Pediatric Child Health. 4(2):125-129.
- Brautbar, Nachman 2002 Toxic molds – The killer within us: Indoor molds and their symptoms
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Outbreaks of gastrointestinal illness of unknown etiology associated with eating burritos, United States, October 1997October 1998. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 1999;48:210-213. [Medline]
- Corrier DE. “Mycotoxicosis: mechanism of immunosuppression”. Vet Immunol Immunopathol 1991; 30:73-87
- Dearborn DG, Yike I, Sorenson WG, Miller MJ, Etzel RA., 1999 Overview of investigations into pulmonary hemorrhage among infants in Cleveland, Ohio Env Health Persp 107:S495-S499
- Etzel, Ruth, J.A.M.A.; mycotoxins – linking evidence and experience
- Flannigan B, Miller JD., 1994 Health implications of fungi in indoor environments—An overview In: Samson RA, Flannigan B,
- Flannigan ME, Verhoeff AP, Adan OCG, eds. Health implications of fungi in indoor air environment. 1th ed. Elsevier, Amsterdam. p 3–26
- Flannigan B, McCabe EM, McGarry F. “Allergenic and toxigenic micro-organisms in houses”. J Appl Bact Symp (Suppl) 1991; 70:61S-73S
- Forgacs J, Carll WT., 1962 Mycotoxicosis Adv Vet Sci 7:273-293
- Gray, Dr. Michael 2001 Mold, mycotoxins and Human Health
- Gray, Dr. Michael July 2003 Interview
- Hodgson MG, Morey P, Leung WY. Building-associated pulmonary disease from exposure to Stachybotrys chartarum and Aspergillus versicolor. J Occup Enivron Med. 1998;40:241-249
- Horner WE, Helbling A, Salvaggio JE, Lehrer SB. Fungal allergens. Clin Microbiol Rev. 1995;8(2):161-179
Human health effects of indoor mycotoxin exposure in fungi-contaminated indoor environments
- Jarvis BB. Mycotoxins–an overview. In: Ownby CA, Odell GV (eds). Natural Toxins. New York, NY: Pergamon Press, 1988:17-29.
- Johanning E, Biagini RE, Hull D, Morey PR, Jarvis BB, Landsbergis P., 1996 Health and immunology study following exposure to toxigenic fungi (Stachybotrys chartarum) in a water-damaged office environment Int Arch Occup Health 68:207-218
- Johanning E, Landsbergis P, Gareis M, Yang CS, Olmsted E. Clinical experience and results of a sentinel health investigation related to indoor fungal exposure. Environ Health Perspect. 1999;107(3):489-494
- Johanning E, Morey PR, Jarvis BB. “Clinical Epidemiological Investigation of Health Effects caused by Stachybotrys Atra Building Contamination”, Proceedings of Indoor Air, 1993; Vol. 1: 225-230
- Jong SC, Davis EE., 1976 Contribution to the knowledge of Stachybotrys and Memnoniella in culture Mycotoxin 3:409-485
- Kozak PP, Gallup J, Cummins LH, Gillman SA. Endogenous mold exposure: environmental risk to atopic and nonatopic patients. In: Gammage RB, Kay SV (eds). Indoor Air and Human Health. Chelsea, Mich: Lewis Publishers; 1985:149-170
- Marinkovich, Vincent, Sorenson, S.G., Gordon, Wayne A.,Johanning, Eckardt,Haddad, Lisa, Khaboshany, A, Omidi, A,
- Morsali,S.M., Craner, J.,Stetzenbach, Linda, D., Berek L, Petri IB, Mesterhazy A A, Teren J, Molnar J., Withanage GS, Murata
- H, Koyama T, Ishiwata I., Pitt JI., Wild CP, Turner PC., Massey TE, Smith GB, Tam AS, Georggiett OC, Muino JC, Montrull H,
- Brizuela N, Avalos S, Gomez RM., S. Bernardini, G. Falck, A. Hirvonen, H. Järventaus, J. Tuimala, Samson, Robert, A., Kari
- Reijula, Nolard, nicole, Anna-Liisa Pasanen, Johanning, Eckardt, Landsbergis, Paul, Etzel, Ruth A, Dearborn, Dorr, Ammann, Harriet, Bünger, J., Müller, M., Stalder, K., Hallier E., Medical abstracts on medical aspects of fungal exposure from around the world
Mayo Clinic on mold exposure
Peltola J, Anderson MA, Raimo M, Mussalo-Rauhamaa H, Salkinoja-Salonen M., 1999 Membrane toxic substances in water-damaged construction materials and fungal pure cultures In: Johanning E. Bioaerosols, Fungi, Mycotoxins: Health effects, Assessment, Prevention and Control 1. New York: Eastern New York Occupational & Environmental Health Center. p 432–443
Peraica, M.; Radic, B.; Lucic, A.; Pavlovic, M. , September 1, 1999, Diseases Caused by Molds in Humans, Bulletin of the World Health Organization
Reshetilova TA, Soloveva TF, Baskunov BP, Kozlovskii AG., 1992 Investigation of alkaloid formation by certain species of fungi of the Penicillium genus Mikrobiologiya 61:873-879
This site is not intended to give medical advice. Seek the advice of a professional for medication, treatment options, and complete knowledge of any illness. The opinions expressed here are exclusively my personal opinions do not necessarily reflect my peers or professional affiliates. The information here does not reflect professional advice and is not intended to supersede the professional advice of others.
By Susan Lillard-Roberts