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Health Concerns of Mould in the Home

Allergy, Immune | August 17, 2018 | Author: Naturopath

Immune, allergy

Health Concerns of Mould in the Home

Moulds are various types of fungi that grow and reproduce by forming spores that can travel through the air. Mould may grow indoors or outdoors and tend to thrive in damp, warm, and humid environments, making them able to exist in any given environment or season.

Moulds reproduce by forming tiny spores that are not visible to the naked eye. They tend to be very resilient and can survive under conditions in which mold cannot necessarily grow, such as in dry and harsh environments. These spores travel through both indoor and outdoor air and when they land on any surface that has moisture on it, mould can immediately start to grow. This is evident in the shower where the most common type of house mould exists. 

What are the health risks of mould exposure?

What are the health risks of mould exposure?Moulds produce irritating substances that may act as allergy causing substances in sensitive individuals. Allergic reactions to mould are the most common health effects of mould and are therefore the greatest health risk related to mould. Allergic reactions may happen immediately or develop after a period of time following mould exposure.
Both growing mould and mould spores may lead to allergic reactions.

Some people are more susceptible to mould-related allergic reactions including small children, the elderly, individuals with pre-existing respiratory disorders like asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD), and people with weakened immune systems, like those with HIV/AIDS or those undergoing chemotherapy.

Symptoms and signs of mould allergy may include the following:

  • Sneezing
  • Runny nose
  • Coughing
  • Wheezing
  • Watery eyes
  • Redness of the eyes
  • Itchy eyes
  • Skin irritation, or rash

It is not possible to predict the degree of severity that mould can have on an individual’s health. Allergy prone individuals vary in their degree of susceptibility to mould, and any symptoms and health risks also depend upon the extent and exact type of mould that is present in the home. Sometimes, people may develop mild allergy type symptoms but on the other hand some people may develop severe reactions to mould exposure which may include Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and complications with the respiratory system or even depression. Individuals with compromised immune systems or patients with existing chronic lung disease can develop serious infections of the lungs due to molds.

The Institute of Medicine has reported that there is now sufficient evidence to link indoor exposure to mold with upper respiratory tract symptoms such as cough, and wheezing in otherwise healthy individuals. Additionally, mold can worsen asthma symptoms in those with pre-existing asthma. Mould is also reported to be linked to hypersensitivity pneumonitis in individuals susceptible to this immunologic condition. This uncommon disease is similar to pneumonia and can develop in susceptible individuals after brief or prolonged exposure to mold.

Mould and the respiratory system: how the lungs are affected

When humans breathe in, air enters the nose and mouth. Any particles in the air, including mold spores, enter the nose and mouth as well.

Mould and the respiratory system: how the lungs are affectedInhaling these particles into the lungs can irritate the air passages and cause irritation, inflammation and/or infection. Once this has occurred and the bronchioles housed in the lungs are compromised, breathing can become affected and the ability to get adequate air through the lungs becomes difficult. 

As a result an individual may develop wheezing and laboured breathing or an asthma attack.

Infection of the bronchi, called bronchitis, can also result from mold being present in the air passages as well as the development of pneumonia when mold spores become lodged in the lungs.

Exposure to mould often triggers asthma attacks in those individuals who already have the pre-existing condition, however, according to the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), exposure to mold has been linked to the development of asthma in small children.

The research is still out as to whether or not it can cause the development of asthma in previously healthy adults, but it certainly can cause asthma-like symptoms, including shortness of breath and wheezing.

Mould and Depression

A public health study has found a connection between damp, mouldy homes and depression. Scientists have based these findings on a large study, analysing data from 5,882 adults in 2,982 households. Molds are toxins and it is clear that toxins can affect the nervous system and the immune system. They also have the ability to impede on the function of the frontal cortex, the part of the brain that plays a part in impulse control, memory, problem solving, sexual behaviour, socialization and spontaneity.

How Mould Affects the Brain

Toxins released by mold can pass directly into the brain. Mold enters the body when breathed in and the spores can enter through the optic nerves and muscles in the eyes as well as the nose and eyes via the olfactory neurons which directly communicate with the brain. Once the mold toxins are in the brain, it causes neuroinflammation and impacts on the function of the frontal cortex leading to symptoms of depression.

Mould and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

While respiratory symptoms are often rapidly attributed to mold, people are not so quick to attribute fatigue to the presence of mould in the home. Chronic fatigue is often something many people complain about when they’ve been exposed to household mold for a long period of time.

What are the health risks of mould exposure?Experts do not know the exact cause of chronic fatigue but do know that it is often caused by a number of factors that may or may not be occurring concurrently.

Some people may be genetically predisposed to the condition or it may be triggered by a viral infection, or it could be a problem with the immune system. Mould is yet another possible suspect.

According to the National Centre for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), a study found high concentrations of mycotoxins in the urine of many patients with chronic fatigue syndrome. Many of these patients reported being exposed to mould, though some were not aware of any mold exposure. Still, the presence of mycotoxins, toxic substances produced by some kinds of mold, suggests that the patients had been exposed even if they were not aware of it. While this is not definitive proof that mould causes chronic fatigue, it does suggest some correlation between the two.

Dr. Joseph Brewer, an infectious disease specialist studied 112 patients all of whom met the Centre for Disease Control’s criteria for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. Using urine testing for a panel of three mycotoxins, Brewer found that ninety four percent of his chronic fatigue patients had at least one kind of mycotoxin detected in their urine. Most importantly, these patients were not selected because they were already known to have a history of mold exposure. They were selected for this study only because they had presented with chronic fatigue.  However, it turned out that of these patients; ninety percent did have exposure to a water damaged building. This suggests that mould exposure might be an important causal contributor to chronic fatigue syndrome.

Treating mould in the home naturally

Activated Charcoal

Activated charcoal can be taken as a supplement for mold cleansing. Most people don’t think about mold that may be living in their bodies and activated charcoal is a potent natural treatment for this. It works by trapping toxins in the body, allowing them to be flushed out so the body doesn’t reabsorb them. Activated charcoal is made from a variety of sources such as coconut shells or other sources.

Tea Tree Oil

Tea tree oil is one of several natural mould killers that can be used instead of bleach. Tea tree oil is a natural fungicide.

Treating mould in the home naturallyTo use it on mould combine two teaspoons of tea tree oil with two cups water in a spray bottle and shake well. Spray the mixture anywhere that mold may be seen in the house.


Chlorophyll has the ability to protect DNA from damage caused by toxic moulds. It also has antibacterial and antifungal properties, making it a highly recommended part of any healthy diet, especially one that is looking to fight mold symptoms.

Chlorophyll is in green vegetables, especially dark green leafy ones. Chlorella, spirulina and phytoplankton are three of the best sources of chlorophyll and are available in a variety of supplement forms.  Australia’s best online discount chemist


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