Mold holds hidden dangers in homes – Spores left unchecked can cause illness

Mold holds hidden dangers in homes – Spores left unchecked can cause illness

Excerpts from the article –

Mold reactions can range from mild to life-threatening, according to David Straus, professor of microbiology and immunology at Texas Tech University.

“How large a problem it is depends on what type of organism it is (there are 100,000 species), the amount of mold growing indoors and the susceptibility of the people living in the house,” said Straus, who conducts extensive mold research.

If there’s mold growing in grout, it’s not a problem. If you have several square feet growing on a wall, it’s a serious problem Straus said. “Mycotoxins are poisons produced by mold for reasons we don’t understand.”

Allergic reactions rank sixth as the leading cause of chronic disease in the United States costing health care $18 billion dollars annually according to the National Institute of Infectious Diseases.

Article –

Tommy Riley of Seminary moved into a new top-of-the-line, double-wide trailer in July 1998. Nestled on 111 acres, it was as nice as some homes, he thought, a perfect fit to learn the lay of the land before building a permanent home.

Within the first six months of living there, the self-employed used-equipment salesman and his family began having upper respiratory problems, coughing and laryngitis. Four years later, his 7- year-old nephew fell in the hall, leaving a sinking hand print on the wall.
After searching their home, they found mold dots sprinkled throughout in the top of closets, and their battle with serious mold was just beginning.

Mold reactions can range from mild to life-threatening, according to David Straus, professor of microbiology and immunology at Texas Tech University.

“How large a problem it is depends on what type of organism it is (there are 100,000 species), the amount of mold growing indoors and the susceptibility of the people living in the house,” said Straus, who conducts extensive mold research.

If there’s mold growing in grout, it’s not a problem. If you have several square feet growing on a wall, it’s a serious problem Straus said. “Mycotoxins are poisons produced by mold for reasons we don’t understand.”

More than 20 installation/manufacturing problems were identified through professional inspections of Riley’s mobile home. In 2002, he and his family evacuated because of ongoing mold symptoms. His attorney recommended he see a physician in Maryland specializing in mold toxicity.

They traveled to Maryland in 2007 for a diagnosis and received treatment. Riley believes they need to return for additional treatment to reverse his short-term memory loss, but expense is a major deterrent.

“With the mobile home industry, structure and installation is a problem. Builders are in a hurry; things get in a hurry. Who wants to step up to the plate and fix this? It will be expensive to fix. Medical issues are expensive. Environmental cleanup is expensive,” Riley said.

His problems are not across the board with mobile homes.

“We have a very regulated industry,” said Jennifer Hall, executive director of the Mississippi Manufactured Housing Association. “HUD sets the guidelines for how homes are built, set up and sold.”

In her 14 years as director, she has never had a mold complaint, Hall says.

Mississippi families live in more than 500,000 manufactured houses.

Hall said all mobile homes in Mississippi should be installed by a licensed installer. Improper site preparation – where land wasn’t leveled resulting in moisture accumulation under homes – could lead to problems.

HUD increased installation standards that went into effect Monday for houses built across the nation. Hall said Mississippi already was installing homes at those standards.

Also, the 2008 Legislature passed a law to require inspections by the state fire marshal’s office of all new and used manufactured houses after purchase. The inspections were done at random before, Hall said.

Riley has met many with similar problems through a Web site he developed to help others with similar mold issues.

“A lot of people have nowhere to go. It’s the only home they will ever own. We are worried about others not being treated. They can’t afford to leave and can’t afford to be treated. They don’t know what to do.”

If you have indoor mold, find and repair the moisture source. Remove the mold and replace damaged materials with clean building materials, microbiologist Straus recommended. “If it is 100 square feet of mold, get an expert to come in and handle it.”

Moisture control is paramount in controlling mold. The Environmental Protection Agency stresses drying water-damaged areas and items within 24 to 48 hours if possible.

Mold also can be found on the back of drywall, wallpaper, paneling or on the top of ceiling tiles. If you are suspicious of hidden mold, the EPA recommends hiring an experienced professional.

Virginia Hollingsworth, a fourth-grade teacher in Oxford, graduated with honors from Murrah High School in 2002. She was involved in many community service projects and enjoyed her Murrah years. Yet from 1998 to graduation, she was plagued with ongoing allergic reactions from the mold there, she said.

Allergic reactions rank sixth as the leading cause of chronic disease in the United States costing health care $18 billion dollars annually according to the National Institute of Infectious Diseases.

“Visible mold would collect on the air conditioning units in the ceiling. It blew, and mold was there constantly. We would come back from summer break and walls in one classroom would be covered with green mold. They’d wash it down every year. … Murrah had leaks,” Hollingsworth said.

According to Fred Davis, director of facilities at Jackson Public Schools, there was a complaint about Murrah and an environmental professional tested the air quality within the last two years. No evidence of mold in the air, building or ductwork was found.

Molds are fungi that thrive in moisture, releasing invisible spores that can contain allergens and toxins called mycotoxins. Allergic reactions happen when the immune system overreacts to breathing in allergens, according to Dr. Linda Tanaka, associate professor of allergy, asthma and immunology at the University of Mississippi Medical Center.

Mold also may trigger asthma attacks in an asthmatic person, according to Tanaka.

“Asthma and allergies are interrelated,” Tanaka said. Mold allergies are year-round in the South, where deep freezes are uncommon and spores stay alive and thrive in the humidity.

Symptoms include sneezing, watery eyes, itchy nose, post-nasal drip and, for the asthmatic, shortness of breath. Left untreated, more serious conditions such as an allergic fungal sinusitis (fungal ball in the sinuses) and a fungal infection of the lungs can develop, Tanaka said.

Hollingsworth took daily allergy medications and had immunotherapy injections.

“If you see mold, you should not ignore it,” researcher Straus said, “and it will not go away on its own. Use your head and fix it.”

Story and Photos – http://www.clarionledger.com/article/20081021/HEALTH/810210346/1242/health

About Sharon Kramer

Hi, I'm an advocate for integrity in health marketing and in the courts.
This entry was posted in Environmental Health Threats, Health - Medical - Science, Toxic Mold and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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