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Natural Awakenings Washington DC Metro

Mold in Your Home

Oct 27, 2013 05:57AM

Chronic fatigue, undiagnosed autoimmune conditions, hormonal deregulations, depression, anxiety, allergies, chronic respiratory issues, headaches and list of other problems can be caused by biological hazards present in the home or workplace. The most common among malicious indoor biological agents is mold. Hot humid climate and wide use of drywalls and wood as building materials are factors favoring mold growth in indoor environments. Sometimes it can be so abundant that anyone can tell that there is a problem. More frequently, however, mold grows in hidden areas but still releases its harmful particles in indoor air.

Mold growth requires food, appropriate temperature and water. Molds can consume a vast variety of organic chemicals. Cellulose, one of the major components of drywall and wood, can serve as a sole source of nutrition. Plasters often contain organic additives that also make them susceptible to mold growth. Normal indoor temperature is perfect for mold growth, however water is the key factor in this circumstance. Building materials inside homes should not be moist enough for mold growth, but high moisture can be the result of something commonplace such as a leaky pipe, roof leaks or an improper design of a HVAC system.

Many common indoor molds are known to be so-called opportunistic pathogens, meaning they primarily infect individuals with a weakened immune system. More often, the malicious effect of indoor molds is caused by their production of allergens or toxins. Potential allergens are produced by a broad variety of indoor molds but susceptibility to them greatly varies from person to person.

When a patient is suspected to have mold toxicity, the first step is to take the online visual contrast sensitivity test. If failed, your doctor can order one or a combination of the following tests: Melanocyte stimulating hormone (MSH), vasoactive intestinal peptide (VIP), C4a, or TGF-Beta-1. If the clinical suspicion is confirmed by laboratory tests, the next step is to proceed with an inspection of the house and/or work place. Treating someone with mold toxicity without removing them from their toxic environment will not lead to meaningful clinical improvement and prolongs patients suffering, while wasting money on medical bills. 

Indoor testing for potentially hazardous molds is complex. Most often, the testing occurs during the purchase of a new house as part of the inspection, but unfortunately, these tests frequently miss toxic molds. Inspectors collect a few samples and send them to an external lab, receiving the data days later, which slows the assessment process. Often, there is not enough information to make a valid conclusion and very few inspectors have sufficient mycology training to understand the biology of mold adequately. 

A solid assessment of the home includes the education of the homeowner by a professional mycologist, who is able to visually examine the dwelling and perform a microscopy on site to determine if additional investigation is necessary. Mold can potentially be a significant problem for every member of the household so it is important to work with a professional who can answer your questions, calm your fears, and determine if you need to have further work done to protect your family and your home.

For more information about indoor environmental consulting services, call 202-833-5055 or visit gwcim.com/services/indoor-environmental-consulting

Dr. Mikhail Sogonov, president of InSitu Ecotesting LLC, is a mycologist with 15 years of experience in academic and industrial mycology including five years in indoor mold testing. He works in collaboration with Dr. Mikhail Kogan, medical director of the GW Center for Integrative Medicine.  

 

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