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Mold-Related Biotoxin Illness

0 2 years ago

by Dr. Aaron Hartman

Understanding Our Mold Problem

The Potential Disease Load

According to the current data from the Government Accounting Office (GAO) about 50% of buildings in the U.S. have some form of water damage. Approximately 25% of the population has a genetic susceptibility to the accumulation of biotoxins (microscopic particles, gasses, and chemicals released from living organisms including bacteria, virus and fungi). If 25% of the population has the genetic potential and 50% of buildings provide potential exposure, this entity could potentially be an unrecognized epidemic. CIRS can also spill over into the acquired immune system resulting in related autoimmune diseases like hypothyroidism, gluten immune sensitivity (the worst case scenario is Celiac), Lupus, Rheumatoid and others. Without large-scale population studies the exact extent of CIRS cannot be established; but suffice it to say, the potential is enormous.

Symptoms of Mold Toxicity

The list of symptoms that patients present to their practitioners’ offices is extensive. By the clinical definition, this is a multi-system, multi-symptom disease. The symptoms range from fatigue and headaches to aches, pains, and stiffness with tingling and numbness. The entire list of symptoms can be seen in the figure to the left. This complex system sounds like the cadre of patients who daily come through a primary care office: vertigo, dizziness, tingling, fatigue, headaches, stomach pain, diarrhea, blurred vision, etc.

What’s so Bad About a Little Mold?

So, what’s so bad about a little mold? After all, mold is everywhere, right? Well, the issue is not the mold itself but all the company it keeps. About 48 hours after a water leak/damage to a building with manufactured materials (e.g. gypsum board, engineered wood, composite materials), mold begins to grow—but not just mold: bacterial growth, off-gasing chemicals called mVOCs (microbial volatile organic compounds), and particulates from fungi are all released into the surrounding environment. This biotoxin cloud is what begins to activate a person’s innate immune system. Figure 2 below includes a partial listing of the composition of this toxic mold cloud. The particulates made by the bacteria and fungus can be as small as .4 microns and weigh as little as 40–1000 Daltons. In other words, this stuff is submicroscopic. One way to conceptualize this toxic cloud is to liken it to cigarette smoke. The particles in cigarette smoke are roughly the same size, contain gaseous toxins with micro-particulates, and can linger in the air column for months or longer. Consider, if an inconsiderate guest smoked in your home, how long would the smell linger? Weeks? Months? How would you filter it out? The basic concept applies to the micro-particulates and mVOCs associated with water-damaged buildings (WBD). Over time, these little guys can activate your innate immune system and cause systemic inflammation.

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