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Toxic Molds: Revisited (2017)

Indoor Toxic Molds and their Symptoms

By Nachman Brautbar, M.D.

Based on the most recent scientific literature (Hurraß, J., et al. Medical diagnostics for indoor mold exposure. Int J Hyg Environ Health. 2017 Apr;220(2 Pt B):305-328), indoor mold may induce health effects (in some individuals) and depending on the indoor mold growth.

There is only sufficient evidence for allergic respiratory response/disease, such as asthma (manifestation, progression and exacerbation) and allergic rhinitis.  In comparison to other environmental allergens, the sensitization magnitude of mold is low.  There is inadequate data for an association with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), sarcoidosis, pulmonary hemorrhage and cancer.

Predisposing factors for impairment include environmental concerns and anxieties.  In immunosuppressed individuals, such as patients with leukemia, lymphoma or AIDS, mold can become invasive and life threatening.

Mycotoxins are metabolites produced by molds at low concentration (they should be distinguished from spoiled food and fruits).  Indoor air fungi produces mycotoxins.  The formation of mycotoxins depends on the fungal species.  Mycotoxins can be detected at very low concentration  in house dust and bioaerosol of building materials.  Mycotoxins are nonvolatile and are found always bound to spores of fungi.  Mycotoxins in concentrations relevant to human health are found in moldy food.  The data available so far that indoor concentration of most indoor air fungi mycotoxins have not found to be toxic to humans.

On the other hand, synergistic effects from exposure to several molds together with other cell components, such as glucans or endotoxins, are responsible for toxicity.