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HEALTH CONCERN? BioHealth Health Concerns

Mold Toxins and Health

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MoldHigh levels of airborne molds in your home, place of work, and other buildings you frequent are a source of chronic stress.

Many people are either unaware of or in denial about the severe health hazards involved with mold found in buildings. Omnipresent in the environment, molds are one of the two largest groups of fungi, the other being yeasts. Unlike plants, molds lack chlorophyll; they can’t produce the food they require from sunshine. Instead, they obtain food directly from decaying organic material, which allows them to thrive in dark, covered areas, often out of sight.

Common sources of airborne molds include water-damaged walls, foundations, and carpets, as well as contaminated heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning systems. The cellulose in moist building materials such as ceiling tiles, rotting wood, and the paper covering on Sheetrock make perfect substrates for molds to thrive on. Mold seen on metal, glass, or bathroom tile is feeding on an organic deposit from substances such as oils, dirt, or skin cells. Mold can even grow on organic debris trapped within fiberglass insulation. Given a food source, dampness, and an ideal temperature, opportunistic molds can flourish almost anywhere.

Mold damageSevere examples of building-related illness caused by mold infestations—and related lawsuits—have drawn national media attention. In the last decade, reports of schools, courthouses, and other public buildings being closed for major renovations or demolition because of extensive mold contamination have increased. Significant business, building, and real-estate interests aim to suppress important research and awareness of the dangers of mold to protect the bottom line.

Structures with chronic water or moisture problems are ideal places for mold to thrive. Colonies of mold can proliferate in the damp, dark spaces behind walls, above ceilings, and in aging air ducts. These molds—and the chemicals and toxins they produce—contaminate the air within a building. And beware, not all molds produce the characteristic musty odor. In fact, some produce no odor at all.