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Mold is a type of fungus, as are mushrooms and yeast. There are between 100,000 and 400,000 types of fungi (estimates vary), and of these, scientists have identified more than 1,000 types of mold growing inside houses across America.2 Molds are classified into three groups according to human responses:

The five most common indoor mold varieties are:


Mycotoxins: From Antibiotics to Biological Warfare Agents

Molds produce a number of powerful substances that can affect your health in beneficial or detrimental ways. It should come as no surprise that fungi produce potent biologically active compounds—after all, lysergic acid (the parent compound of LSD) is produced by a mushroom! And penicillin is a mycotoxin produced by the mold Penicillium, better known as an antibiotic.

Some mold compounds are volatile and released directly into the air, known as microbial volatile organic compounds (mVOCs). Fragments of the cell walls of molds (glucans) can also be inhaled and cause inflammatory respiratory reactions, including a flu-like illness called Organic Dust Toxic Syndrome (ODTS).
But the most serious danger comes from highly poisonous agents called mycotoxins.

More than 200 mycotoxins have been identified from common molds. Mycotoxins interfere with RNA synthesis and may cause DNA damage. The mycotoxins that have probably received the most attention by researchers are the trichothecenes, produced by Stachybotyrs chartarum and Aspergillus versicolor. Mycotoxins, even in minute quantities, are lipid-soluble and readily absorbed by your intestinal lining, airways, and skin. Some are so poisonous that they have been studied and developed as biological warfare agents9 as far back as the 1940s. Aflatoxin and trichothecenes are prime examples.

Even spores that are no longer able to reproduce can still harm your health due to these mycotoxins—in other words, "dead" mold spores are every bit as dangerous as "live" ones. The spores do not produce the toxins—rather, it is thought that the toxins are produced when the spores are produced, by the mold colony. Scientists believe that mycotoxins are the organism's way of holding a competitive edge by defeating other organisms that are trying to thrive in the same environment—like humans, for example.

Adverse Health Effects from Mold

A lot of people end up treating the symptoms of mold exposure and never get to the root of the problem. Oftentimes, they don't even make the connection that mold is the cause of their problems… and neither does their physician. According to mycotoxin expert Dr. Harriet Ammann, exposure to indoor molds can damage the systems of your body in the following ways:



One of the challenges of diagnosing a mold allergy is that reactions are so variable from one person to another. Some people start having memory problems, while others may experience sudden changes in disposition, such as agitation, anger, panic, or depression. Headaches are common but don't affect everyone exposed to mold.

  • Common symptoms are:
  • Coughing and wheezing
  • Sinus problems and post-nasal drip
  • Itchy rashes
  • Joint pain

What You Don't Know CAN Hurt You: The Billings Story

Kurt and Lee Ann Billings learned the hard way about the damaging health effects of mold—and the level of ignorance about mold's effects by medical professionals. Living in a home in the outer impact zone of Hurricane Katrina, they suffered a progressive array of symptoms for which their physicians had no solution. They later discovered that their illness was due to mold infestation in their home.

What started as tightness and burning in their chests and itchy eyes soon progressed into severely diminished lung capacity that did not resolve, despite moving out of their home. After extensive research and eventually recovering their health, they wrote the book Mold: The War within in hopes of educating a poorly informed and disadvantaged public.

On page 11, they write:

"It appears, based on our experiences and research, that much of the medical community is stuck in a time warp when it comes to fungal illnesses—even in regard to the notably researched and highly publicized condition of fungal-induced sinusitis."

What they are referring to is research done by the Mayo Clinic in the 1990s that strongly suggests NEARLY ALL chronic sinusitis (inflammation of the membranes of your nose and sinus cavities) is caused by fungi but blamed on bacteria—then mistreated using antibiotics. The findings were published in 1999 in two peer-reviewed journals, Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology and Mayo Clinic Proceedings. Yet, the Billings report that most physicians are unaware of this study, or at least of its significance.

A 1999 Mayo Clinic press release stated;
"Mayo Clinic researchers say they have found the cause of most chronic sinus infections—an immune system response to fungus.

The Mayo Clinic study suggests that 96 percent of the people who suffer from chronic sinusitis are "fungal sensitized," meaning they have immune responses triggered by inhaled fungal organisms.

According to Billings, 37 million people in the U.S. suffer from chronic sinusitis, and its incidence has been increasing over the past decade. Yet, most physicians continue to believe that fungi are an uncommon cause of respiratory infections, accounting for less than 10 percent. Furthermore, in most cases, antibiotics are not effective for chronic sinusitis because they target bacteria, NOT fungi.

Antibiotics and steroids can actually worsen fungal-related infections by destroying your body's natural biological terrain, creating an internal incubation ground for fungi.

This points to an enormous number of chronic sinus infections that are being misdiagnosed and mistreated!
The bottom line in all of this is, if you have chronic sinusitis, you MUST approach it from the perspective of a fungal infection, not a bacterial infection, even if it means having to educate your healthcare provider. A good place to start is by sharing the Mayo Clinic study referenced above. Mold: The War Within is also a useful resource for you and your physician (you can read a review by NORMI here, the National Organization of Remediators and Mold Inspectors).

What to Do Once You've Established That Mold Is a Problem


Mold spores are very difficult to destroy, even with cleaning agents, such as hot water or bleach (which is itself toxic). The best way to reduce the problem is through smart preventive measures.

WE HIGHLY RECOMMEND CONTACTING A PROFESSIONAL!

She warns:
"I've seen people try to stay in a moldy house when their child is very sick or they are very sick. They try to clean the place up. They take out the moldy carpet and decide to paint the moldy walls. But they can become so desperately ill that it is very hard to treat them in the future."
Other remedial steps you need to take to address the problem:

  • Get a high-quality air purifier to control mold toxins.In addition to the mold itself, you need to make sure you get rid of any mold toxins. When a mold breaks down, it disintegrates, and every little particle may contain mycotoxins that have the capability of making you very sick.
  • ***Please understand that no air filter in the world will take care of mold issues until you have the humidity under control and the mold properly cleaned from your house.
  • Professional remediation. If your mold problem is sizeable, or if you have black mold, you may want to consider hiring a professional remediator. Unless proper precautions are taken, undertaking black mold removal on your own can be almost as hazardous as doing nothing at all,19 because spores will be stirred up and sent airborne during the cleaning process.


This may not be cheap, but it's better than the alternative. If you catch the problem early, you can save yourself tens of thousands of dollars in extra cleanup costs. (Trust me, as I made this mistake myself and wouldn't want to see anyone else go through it.) Make sure a remediator doesn't use chemicals you're sensitive to—a chemical allergy is the LAST thing you need while you are recovering from a mold poisoning!

Warning! Be Careful How You Chose Your Remediator

CHOOSE A REMEDIATOR who also is a foundation expert and can perform those repairs to stop the cause. Many companies come to your home, remediate, and do not stop the cause of the problem. If you remediator cannot repair all the factors contributing to the mold, roof, foundation, structural failure, windows, etc. choose one that can!

IF THERE IS NO WARRANTY OR ONLY A SIX MONTH WARRANTY; BEWARE!

A mold remediation company should offer a complete solution and a warranty.

There is no question that a high-quality HEPA air filter can help control mold issues but it will NOT remediate against them. You can use the best air filters and purifiers and they will never solve the problem if you continue to have water intrusion into you home that increases the humidity and feeds the growth of the mold.

You will need to stop the water at its source and carefully remove and clean the mold infested materials. While this may superficially seem an easy task, let me assure you that it isn't.

I recently had a leak in my basement that was improperly remediated for $10K and the cause was not addressed so the problem worsened, which more than tripled the price to properly clean it up. That is part of the reason that prompted me to contact some of the leading experts in this area and learn how to do this properly.

CHOOSE A REMEDIATOR who also is a foundation expert and can perform those repairs to stop the cause. Many companies come to your home, remediate, and do not stop the cause of the problem

IF THERE IS NO WARRANTY OR ONLY A SIX MONTH WARRANTY; BEWARE!

A mold remediation company should offer a complete solution and a warranty.

Your home may have a mold problem if any of these issues have come up:

  • You have seen visible mold on surfaces
  • You have noticed a moldy or musty smell in enclosed spaces
  • There are ongoing water issues in your crawl space, basement, or roof.
  • Your doctor has noticed respiratory symptoms indicating potential air quality issues


BUYING OR SELLING A HOME OR PROPERTY

You may also be buying or selling a house and looking to gain the peace of mind that comes with a whole-home mold assessment. Whatever your reason, BLUE PLANET is here to help.

BLUE PLANET is a certified mold remediation provider across all of New Jersey. We are your NJ home environmental company – we cure sick homes and buildings and we love what we do!

THE BLUE PLANET PROCESS FOR MOLD TESTING AND REMEDIATION – GUARANTEED FOR 7 YEARS

Our process is the most efficient and scientific in New Jersey. BLUE PLANET is the only company in the area – and one of the few in the entire industry – to offer an 7-year warranty on our mold remediation services.