You’re probably aware that exposure to black mold is dangerous, but did you also know that prolonged exposure can make you chronically ill, even after the source of the mold has been removed?
Mold toxicity is different from mold allergies. While allergies are typically caused by the immune system’s reaction to mold spores, mold toxicity is primarily caused by mycotoxins, which are toxic metabolites. Both mold allergies and mold toxicity can result in similar symptoms, with toxicity usually producing more severe and longer-lasting issues.
Common symptoms of mold toxicity and mold allergies include (but are not limited to):
Chronic respiratory symptoms
Aches and pains
Depression and anxiety
Light and skin sensitivity
The root causes of these are often mistaken for common ailments such as seasonal allergies, viruses, mental illness, and food allergies. Mold toxicity has only been studied relatively recently and can be difficult to detect. To compound the problem, mold can be present in your home or workplace without you seeing or smelling it. It can grow in between walls, along window jambs, and in heating and air conditioning ducts. Sadly, many physicians don’t look for it.
Many scholarly articles have been written on the subject of mold toxicity, and it has been recognized for decades by alternative medicine practitioners. The site SurvivingMold.com is an excellent source of information about mold allergies, mold toxicity, and reliable testing (which can be difficult to find).
What should you do if you suspect mold allergy or toxicity?
• If you are aware of the location of the mold, remove yourself from it immediately. Bleach is not effective for small areas of surface mold, but there are excellent non-toxic alternatives such as Mold Control, which I have used successfully myself. You can also make your own cleaner using one part water, one part vinegar, and one cup of boric acid for each gallon of liquid (be sure to read the label carefully before using boric acid and to follow all precautions). I was given this recipe by a mold remediation expert.
• Proper testing can be expensive, but it is essential. Have the testing done (or request that your employer or landlord have it done) by a qualified professional. It’s recommended that this be done by an independent source like a home inspector, rather than a company that provides remediation. Testing should be done before and after remediation to be sure that the remediation was done correctly. You may need to have porous surfaces, furniture, and clothing treated as well.
• Work with a medical professional experienced in mold detection and detoxing. I have found that many naturopathic and integrative practitioners are able to help.
• Trust your instincts and your body. Don’t give up until you receive the answers and treatment you deserve. I had mold toxicity symptoms for many years, but I was the only person in our house who could smell mold, and we couldn’t find the source. It was finally confirmed when our bathroom ceiling collapsed, revealing extensive mold from water that had been coming in from a loose shingle.