Those who have yet to discover the truth
about mold will attribute most of the symptoms people have
to allergic reactions. Even the harshest skeptics of
mold dangers do not deny that many people are allergic to
mold. Allergies are only the tip of the iceberg;
however, since there is some level of concensus regarding
these unpleasant signs of mold contamination and exposure,
this is a good place to start the medical discussions.
Mold Spores and Hyphae
As anyone who has picked up
a moldy orange knows, just a little motion causes a nasty
odor and some ugly dusty particulates, aka spores, to become
airborne. In the indoor air quality profession, the
action of moving the orange is called a "disturbance" and
it means that a mold colony has been affected in such a way
as to cause dissemination of spores and hyphae.
Unlike colonies, individual
spores are invisible, microscopic in size, but they can have
dire effects on those who susceptible. This would
include small children and small animals as well as anyone
with compromised immunity or a respiratory condition.
Symptoms include sneezing or
wheezing, coughing, and sometimes difficulty breathing, but
an allergic individual may also have itchy eyes, runny nose,
stuffy head, migraine headaches, or even life-threatening
According to Jeffrey C. May,
a property inspector and author of a highly recommended book,
given to me by the man who cleaned my ducts, My House
is Killing Me, some people can be so sensitive to mold
that they are threatened by someone else eating contaminated
peanuts or walnuts—or any other moldy food—in
the same room.
Take heed, allergies are not
a simple matter for those who are this reactive to molds.
What is an Allergic Reaction?
Basically, there are some very
simplistic as well as more erudite explanations of allergic
responses. On the unconscionably ill-informed end of
the spectrum, there are scientists, including often your
own doctor, who believe that allergy symptoms are caused
by hypersensitivity to a particular allergen that triggers
the immune system to "overreact."
If you do some superficial
research on allergies, you will probably find some textbook
definitions insulting, certainly condescending. The
emphasis is normally on some kind of inappropriate response
to a harmless substance. The problem is that the body
possesses the intelligence to know what is dangerous and
what is not.
So, let's forget overreaction
to nothing! Sure, there are some pollens and ragweeds
that trigger reactions in some people, but it is usually
because those people cannot metabolize the proteins they
Basically, the immune system
targets something as dangerous and "overreacts" so
as to destroy that something. To this end, the body
produces specific types of white blood cells to go after
Before I had my own encounter
with mold, I had already been researching stored memories
in the psyche for more than two decades. What I discovered
is that every individual has a historic reason for every
like and dislike, not to mention allergy. Moreover,
it takes almost no imagination to realize that bizarre fungi
can remind people of all sorts of strange experiences, from
psychotic departures from reality to death.
The point is not everyone hates
Roquefort cheese and/or mushrooms,
and not everyone exhibits allergic responses to penicillin. The
same can be said for bee stings and countless other toxins
that affect people differently. The fact that there
are so many differences between people does not mean either
that (1) allergic people are having "inappropriate overreactions"
or (2) that those who are not allergic to mold are unaffected
by it. Those who on the surface appear not to be suffering
may have a different kind of compromised immunity: the failure
of the body to produce sufficient warnings. I am saying
this because mold is, in fact, dangerous, so neither naïveté or asymptomatic co-existence with mold are safe. Such
could still be hugely affected by mycotoxins.
Unfortunately, because people
react so differently to mold, there has been a tendency among
medical professionals to lump mold allergies together with
seasonal allergies or food allergies and to neglect many
of the facts about mold. This is, however, bad science,
even when the opinions are sometimes sincere and offered
in a spirit of compassion.
note: this section of the site is divided
into three main parts: allergies, immunity,
and toxicity. This
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30 October 2005