Health effects of mold exposure

Research on the relationship between mold exposure and health effects is ongoing, and some false information, especially about black mold, is easy to find.

The following information about the link between mold and adverse health effects is drawn from the Environmental Protection Agency, Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

u There are no federal standards or recommendations for airborne concentrations of mold or mold spores.

u There is always some mold everywhere, and all molds, including those that have dried, have the potential to cause health effects. Symptoms depend on the types of mold present, extent of exposure and the individual’s sensitivities or allergies. People with weakened immune systems may be more vulnerable.

u Health effects may include but are not limited to headaches, asthma attacks, allergic reactions and eye, skin, nose, throat and/or lung irritation.

u Molds can also produce toxic substances called mycotoxins. The mold found at Bellefonte was not cultured. Its presence and black color alone do not automatically mean mycotoxins were present. Not all black molds are toxic.

u More than 200 mycotoxins have been identified from common molds, and some are known to cause adverse health effects. Little is known about many mycotoxins. What is known is largely derived through case studies.

u Symptoms and health effects attributed to inhalation of mycotoxins have been reported and include skin rash, nausea, acute or chronic liver damage and cancer.

u More studies are needed, but it is “clearly prudent to avoid exposure to molds and mycotoxins,” according to the EPA.