Toxicologist's Report on Damp Indoor Spaces

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The following report is not for laypeople. It's scholarly and geared to fellow toxicologists and other professionals. It's worth reviewing, however, because if ever there was a question that there's more to mold than meets the eye, it's answered here.

This article, along with 15 others on the subject of damp indoor spaces, appeared in the October edition of Toxicology and Industrial Health. It's written by Dr. Jack Thrasher and he alluded to it in the interview I conducted with him in June. During the course of that interview he kept reminding me that when discussing mold, "you should also include the bacteria present in water damaged structures."

There are 9 types of biocontaminants resulting from water intrusion listed in the report. These include:

(1) molds
(2) bacteria
(3) microbial particulates
(4) mycotoxins
(5) volatile organic compounds (non-microbial[MVOCs] and microbial [VOCs])
(6) proteins (e.g. secreted enzymes, haemolysins and siderophores)
(7) galactomannans (extracellular polysaccharides or EPS)
(8) 1-3-D-b-glucans (glucans)
(9) endotoxins (lipopolysaccharides [LPS])

The article reviews these biocontaminants in detail and talks about the synergism that occurs between mold and bacteria. Something Dr. Thrasher described to me on October 4, 2008. The day we left our home. It was the first time I heard of something the dictionary describes this way:

"The interaction of elements that when combined produce a total effect that is greater than the sum of the individual elements, contributions, etc." In other words, mold and bacteria work together to create something extremely harmful to individuals.

No wonder my tongue was black and I was forgetting simple things the day we walked away.

The article concludes with this powerful message,

"The medical profession worldwide should add to its basic curriculum detailed information on the health effects of the multi-biocontaminants present in water-damaged buildings. Diagnostic tests should be developed and recommended to determine the nature of building-related illness, e.g. allergy, hypersensitivity pneumonitis, encephalopathy, fungal infections, bacterial infection, etc.

Finally, the medical profession must recognize the importance of immediate removal of occupants from the toxic environment. Government agencies and medical universities need to increase research to continue to further solidify knowledge regarding health impacts that multi-biocontaminants have on human and animal occupants.

Preventing exposure to indoor biocontaminants is the most effective way for society to avoid the illnesses they cause. When exposure has already occurred, immediate removal of the occupant(s) from the contaminated environment is paramount and will minimize further damage to health.

Proper diagnoses will enable affected individuals to either remediate the contaminated structures, if possible, or locate other housing and/or work environments. Increased awareness of the potential health hazards of indoor biocontaminants is the first step in managing – and ultimately reducing – the illnesses they induce."

The full article can be reviewed here.