(This article by Roy Ponder originally appeared in Lake Martin North, Lake Martin South Magazine.)
Mold is everywhere! It is a naturally occurring element that is found in any environment. It becomes a problem in indoor environments when it affects the health of the occupant. There are three things necessary for mold growth- food source, temperature, and water. Common food sources for mold in homes are dust and building products. Mold growth takes place when temperatures are elevated, and humidity is above 60%. There are many different types of mold, and they can be grouped into two categories – Allergy producing molds and toxic molds.
The difference between allergy-producing molds and toxic molds.
Allergy-producing molds produce an allergic response in some people. Like most allergens, everyone has differing tolerance levels, and some people are more allergic than others. Low levels of allergy-producing molds are found in all environments and are generally not a problem unless a person becomes sensitized.
Toxic molds produce chemicals that kill off other molds so they can dominate the food source. These chemicals are called mycotoxins and can cause serious diseases in humans. Symptoms can be wide-ranging and often do not seem to have anything to do with other symptoms. Black mold, or Stachybotrys, is the most widely known toxic mold, but there are others that are problematic as well.
The chemical that makes mold toxic is called mycotoxin. Myco refers to mold, and toxin means poison. Mycotoxins do more than produce an allergic response. In its simplest form, it interrupts bodily functions, especially digestive functions, and the immune system.
In the past, mycotoxins have been hard to identify and test for, but there is new technology that allows us at BIOSWEEP® of Alabama to do that. We can not only use environmental data to test for mycotoxins in the home, but now there is a test to identify them in a urine sample. When done together, comparing the urine sample with the environmental sample results, we can identify the particular mycotoxins that could be making someone sick.
Who needs mycotoxin testing?
If you are suffering from multiple symptoms that don’t seem to have an explanation and medical professionals can’t identify your illness, you may need to have your home and yourself tested for mycotoxins. The two tests together allow us to correlate the building and the body’s responses to the building to determine specific mycotoxins that may be the issue.
Many times, only one individual in a home may be susceptible and suffering symptoms. This can be very frustrating because other individuals who are not affected don’t think there’s a problem. The differences in reactions can range from genetic reasons to different environmental exposures to differing levels of sensitivity.
How do I get rid of mycotoxins?
Finding the source of mold growth is key. This will usually be an ongoing water leak or intrusion that was not found right away. This is where toxic molds get their foothold. A good mold remediator can be invaluable in this quest.
From there, careful remediation and cleaning by a company that understands mold-sensitized individuals is the only way to effectively reduce mycotoxins. Mold-sensitized people very often are also sensitive to harsh chemicals or fragrances.
If you or someone you know has unexplained symptoms that may be related to mycotoxins, give us a call and we will be happy to discuss your situation.