Article of Interest: A Grim Reality of Reopening─More Mold

Grim Reality Reopening Mold

Our team at the Hoffman Toxicant-Induced Loss of Tolerance (TILT) Program at UT Health San Antonio wanted to share this important external article:

Unoccupied buildings, abandoned during the coronavirus shutdowns, give fungi a great opportunity to move in.
“The health effects of mold can be different for different people, so you cannot rely on sampling and culturing to know if you or a member of your family might become sick,” the [CDC’s] website advises.

Read the full external article at Wired.

A COVID19-related challenge for chemically intolerant people looms as people head back to offices and other spaces that have been shut all summer.

The occupants may have left the building, but mold spores are in the air, everywhere, all the time. Molds typically thrive at higher temperatures and higher humidities, and can grow rapidly when HVAC units are turned off to save energy.

“It’s important to pay close attention to what you smell when you first enter a building or a home. If you smell mold, mold is likely there, and may be growing at dangerous levels,” cautions Claudia Miller, MD, MS, Professor Emeritus and Director of the Hoffman TILT Program at UT Health San Antonio. “Olfactory adaptation sets in very quickly, and the odor will seem to fade, but that doesn’t mean the problem is gone.”

Mold that is actively growing has a characteristic smell because it emits volatile organic chemicals, called mold VOCs, which include hydrocarbons, acids, alcohols, aldehydes, aromatics, ketones, terpenes, thiols, and their derivatives. In susceptible individuals, mold can initiate Toxicant-Induced Loss of Tolerance, and also trigger multisystem symptoms in people who are already chemical intolerant. Common symptoms include “brain fog,” problems breathing, and even mood changes, as well as allergic reactions of the skin, airways, mucous membranes, and respiratory tract.

Moldy carpets, furnishings, and paper products are porous, and generally unsalvageable. Sensitive individuals or chemically-intolerant individuals shouldn’t attempt or be present during clean up because mold spores and fragments will become airborne.

How sensitive are you?

Take the Brief Environmental Exposure and Sensitivity Inventory (BREESI) survey:

  1. Do you feel sick when you are exposed to tobacco smoke, certain fragrances, nail polish/remover, engine exhaust, gasoline, air fresheners, pesticides, paint/thinner, fresh tar/asphalt, cleaning supplies, new carpet or furnishings? By sick, we mean: headache, difficulty thinking, difficulty breathing, weakness, dizziness, upset stomach, etc.
  2. Are you unable to tolerate or do you have adverse or allergic reactions to any drugs or medications (such as antibiotics, anesthetics, pain relievers, X-ray contrast dye, vaccines or birth control pills), or to an implant, prosthesis, contraceptive chemical or device, or other medical/surgical/dental material or procedure?
  3. Are you unable to tolerate or do you have adverse reactions to any foods such as dairy products, wheat, corn, eggs, caffeine, alcoholic beverages, or food additives (e.g., MSG, food dye)?

If you answer YES to any of these three questions, take the Quick Environmental Exposure and Sensitivity Inventory (QEESI) and share the results with your doctor! To learn more, visit the Marilyn Brachman Hoffman TILT Program website.

Article Categories: Mold