The short answer is yes. Possibly a lot, if it's growing in your home and exposing you and your family to its toxic effects. Read on for more information about why.
Medical complaints associated with toxic mould
The list of common symptoms of mould illness is long and scary. Let's start with upper respiratory complaints such as rhinitis, sinusitis, asthma and bleeding noses. Then we could move onto cognitive issues like brain fog, flu-like symptoms, headaches, vision problems and insomnia. What about pain? Well, there's muscle pain, joint pain, ice pick pain and neurological pain. And last but not least, psychological issues including depression, anxiety, OCD, ADD and emotional dysregulation.
But there's more. According to Toxic Mould Support Australia, diseases associated with mould illness are usually autoimmune and neuroimmune in nature such as myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, multiple chemical sensitivity, atypical multiple sclerosis, Lyme disease, irritable bowel disease, POTS, rheumatoid arthritis and more.
US real estate reporter, Devon Thorsby had this to say in her report published last year. “People’s reactions to mold vary depending on individual predispositions to mold and the type of mold growth, from no symptoms to sore throat and itchy eyes, heightened asthma problems, skin rashes and in some cases autoimmune disease from prolonged exposure.”
Other mouldy facts
Here’s a few more truths you may want to know about toxic mould:
- A staggering 25% of the population are genetically susceptible to biotoxin illness from indoor mould and Lyme. What are biotoxins I hear you ask? Well, they are poisons released by a variety of organisms - venom, bee venom and jellyfish stingers are all biotoxins. Bacteria and mould also make biotoxins. Some of the smallest biotoxins are those made from indoor mould.
- It is estimated that approximately 50% of mould growth in a damp indoor environment is hidden. It's lurking where you can't see it... within wall cavities, carpets, furnishings, ceilings… The key is to look for the 50% you can see.
- Did you know that mould exposure during infancy increases asthma risk? Research has shown that infants who live in "mouldy" homes are three times more likely to develop asthma by age 7.
- Inhaling toxic mould can cause ghostly hallucinations. Researchers claim that older buildings where ghost hauntings are usually reported, often have poor air quality from pollutants like toxic mould, which can affect our brains. Exposure to the mould can cause mood swings, irrational anger and cognitive impairment.
Real life stories on mould
Paradigm Change is a not-for-profit organisation which provide information about the role of mould toxins and chronic illness. Here are two accounts from their website, from survivors of mould illness:
"Our family of six lost our home to toxic mold. While in the home, we lost a baby to miscarriage and had a two-year-old with asthma who was in and out of the hospital every two weeks. Other symptoms included brain fog, yeast infections and frequent colds. We fled our home like it was on fire. We took nothing with us. With the support of family and friends, we began recovery." Kelly Batic
"We built our home in 2003. We wanted to grow old and die there. The house tried to speed up the process. During construction, roofers cut corners. As a result, water slowly leaked into the ceiling and walls. We never saw it, but there was enough to start mold and bacteria growth. By the time we learned of the problem, our family had paid the price." Ryan Shellenberger
The key to preventing mould growth is reducing dampness in your home. Here are a few tips:
- Remember to turn on exhaust fans when bathing, cooking and doing laundry.
- Open windows to improve ventilation, preferably all year round.
- Limit your use of humidifiers and unflued gas heaters which add moisture to your indoor air.
- Don’t go overboard on fish tanks and indoor plants as these too can create humidity in your home.
- Check for and treat rising damp – you could have an issue with stormwater run-off, your damp course layer or with ventilation to name a few. Here's a detailed read about the dangers of rising damp and treatment options.
- Carry out general home maintenance. Check for blocked vents, leaking pipes, damaged roofing and mortar crumbling from joints as these may allow unwanted water to enter your home or may contribute to rising damp issues. Repair any issues as soon as you spot them.
If you do have a water incident in your home, you need to ensure a comprehensive clean up is undertaken. This means completely cleaning and drying any water damaged building materials, furnishings and carpets. Make sure you discard anything that cannot be fully cleaned and dried.
Cost of testing
I'm often asked about the cost of domestic mould testing. What I want to say to these people is, what is the cost of not testing? Have you experienced any leaking or water damage to your home? Do you live in an older home? And especially, can you see signs of visible mould? In these circumstances, I strongly urge you to investigate further.
The cost of an onsite home assessment and mould spore testing will pale in significance compared to the potential cost to your and your family's health if you have mould that goes untreated. Mould illness is real and it's serious. It can cost you your ability to think straight, to walk straight, to work and to play. If you'd like information or advice about your situation and options available, please do contact us.