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Stachybotrys Black Toxic Mold
The following information was taken from a web site called, THE
STACHYBOTRYS WEB SITE which is owned and maintained by Doctor
Joseph P. Klein, Sr. M.D., Board Certified orthopedic surgeon.
The web site was developed by Dr. Klein for the purpose of
sharing his own personal experience and suffering as the result
of exposure to the toxic mold known as Stachybotrys. AMI is not
associated with Dr. Klein nor do we confirm or dispute any
comments or references made by him. It is the sole
responsibility of the reader to establish the validity of the
FOR A PRINTABLE
COPY OF THIS PAGE CLICK HERE.
INTRODUCTION FROM DR. JOSEPH P. KLEIN
My specialty is orthopedic surgery. I am board certified.
This field encompasses the diagnosis and treatment of
injuries to and diseases of the musculoskeletal system.
Examples of typical orthopedic problems include carpal
tunnel syndrome, joint replacement for arthritis (total hips
and knees), fractures, spinal surgery (disk removal,
fusions), sports medicine (knee and other joint arthroscopic
surgeries), reconstructive surgery for deformities due to
congenital and acquired deformities of children (congenital
hip dislocation, cerebral palsy, spina bifida) and a wide
variety of non-operative conditions such as low back pain.
My symptoms initially included tremendous fatigue, malaise,
muscle aches and cramps,
restlessness, inability to sleep, and severe burning in my
chest with exertion (due to profound pulmonary small airway
disease). The muscle aches and cramps, restlessness, and
inability to sleep have largely resolved, but the others
remain with a gradual tendency to decrease.
My problem now is that I can't go near, much less work with,
any paper or books contaminated by the mold spores. This
includes medical books, charts, magazines etc. If I do get
exposed, I become ill again for anywhere from a few days to
a few weeks, depending upon the intensity and length of
I found that with each exposure I got, my sensitivity would
increase; that is, it would take increasingly smaller
amounts of the mycotoxins on the spores to make me ill.
Since my exposure to and intoxication from stachybotrys I
have become so sensitized to smoke that I can't go into the
operating room because of the smoke generated by the
electrocautery. I become very ill and incapacitated with
exposure to incredibly small quantities of smoke.
Interestingly, before my career in orthopedic surgery, I did
complete a residency in pediatrics. More interestingly, I
was quite interested in poisoning and toxicity as children
are not infrequently poisoned by ingestion of various
medications and chemicals. During the residency I wrote a
paper titled "Hyperglycemia associated with
Diphenylhydantion Intoxication", published in The Journal of
Pediatrics. How prophetic that someday I would be affected
by some type of toxicity!
My Experience With Stachybotrys Toxicity:
My nightmarish experience began with a gradual onset of
symptoms as described above. Mold was discovered in a
bathroom of our house. Unfortunately, I didn't understand
the significance of that black mold with a rather peculiar
odor. When we tried to dry out the moldy areas with fans, as
suggested by our local pest control company, my illness
rapidly escalated. My family (wife and two boys) was not
affected in the least by this mold, nor were any of our
I soon had to move out of the house; I actually lived in a
tent for about one week. As it was summer, it wasn't too
bad. I continued to conduct my business as usuall, figuring
I could move back in shortly as soon as my contractor had
the mold cleaned up. Frankly, my family was beginning to
think I was loosing my sanity!
What actually happened from that point on is still a blur in
my mind. Since then I have lived in about forty different
motel rooms trying to figure out how to get away from this
toxic stuff. (The links at the top of this page to 'posts'
and 'path' will better help the reader to understand this.)
Also, I have lived in four new houses, the most recent being
devoid of any carpet, rugs, stuffed furniture etc. It is
basically sparsely furnished with a tile floor, no rugs and
vinyl window dressings. Additionally, I and my family had to
get rid of all of our possessions including, financial
records, bank statements, pictures, photographs, photograph
albums, clothing, furniture, books (including my entire
medical library and journal's collected over a thirty-year
period, bedding, kitchenware, silverware, computers,
automobiles, desks, chairs, office machines, family
heirlooms - everything.
In the middle of this nightmare, I became ill enough to
require hospitalization along with a protracted course of
steroids (cortisone). The problems I had with long term
steroid therapy will take a page or two to describe.
This story is far from complete. I will keep adding, editing
and revising until the job is done.
Stachybotrys is a specific family (genus) of mold
that is present in the environment. Out-of-doors
stachybotrys molds help to decay organic matter. One
particular species known as stachybotrys atra (sometimes
known as stachybotrys chartarum) is prone to growth indoors.
This mold is normally dark brown or black in color. It can
look slimy, sooty, or even like grayish white strands
depending on the amount of moisture available and the length
of time it has been growing. It is important to remember
that many other common indoor molds can look similar to
stachybotrys (including cladosporium, aspergillus,
alternaria, and drechslera), so testing is critical to
conclusively identify stachybotrys in a building.
Stachybotrys mold needs the proper conditions in order to
grow, including moisture, a nutrient source, temperature,
and time. Standing water or a relative humidity of 90% or
higher is necessary for stachybotrys to start germination
and grow. However, once the stachybotrys begins to grow it
can continue to propagate even if the surface water source
dries up and the relative humidity falls to 70%. The
nutrient sources that best support stachybotrys are those
with a high cellulose content. As such, stachybotrys thrives
on natural materials such as hay, straw, and wood chips, as
well as building materials such as ceiling tile, drywall,
paper vapor barriers, wallpaper, insulation backing,
cardboard boxes, and paper files. Stachybotrys survives a
wide variation in temperature and grows most proficiently in
temperatures that humans consider warm to moderately hot. It
tends to develop more slowly than many other molds—one to
two weeks after moisture intrusion as compared to one to two
days for molds like aspergillus, penicillium, or
cladosporium. Despite its slow start, stachybotrys usually
develops into the dominant mold if the conditions are
favorable, eventually crowding out other mold types that may
have colonized the material first.
Like many other molds, stachybotrys can spread both through
the generation of spores and the growth of root-like
structures called mycelia. Stachybotrys spores grow in
clusters at the end of stem-like structures known as hyphae.
The spores do not easily disperse into the air if the
colonized material is wet, as the spores are held together
by a sticky/slimy coating. Distribution through the air is
possible when the mold dries out or is disturbed. Because of
this danger of the airborne dispersion of spores, all
cleaning and removal of stachybotrys mold should be done
using appropriate controls.
Stachybotrys has a high moisture requirement, so it grows
vigorously where moisture has accumulated from roof or wall
leaks, or chronically wet areas from plumbing leaks. It is
often hidden within the building envelope. When S. chartarum
is found in an air sample, it should be searched out in
walls or other hidden spaces, where it is likely to be
growing in abundance. This mold has a very low nitrogen
requirement, and can grow on wet hay and straw, paper,
wallpaper, ceiling tiles, carpets, insulation material
(especially cellulose-based insulation). It also grows well
when wet filter paper is used as a capturing medium.
S. chartarum has a well-known history in Russia and the
Ukraine, where it has killed thousands of horses, which seem
to be especially susceptible to its toxins. These toxins are
macrocyclic trichothecenes. They cause lesions of the skin
and gastrointestinal tract, and interfere with blood cell
formation. (Sorenson, 1993). Persons handling material
heavily contaminated with this mold describe symptoms of
cough, rhinitis, burning sensations of the mouth and nasal
passages and cutaneous irritation at the point of contact,
especially in areas of heavy perspiration, such as the
armpits or the scrotum (Andrassy et al., 1979).
One case study of toxicosis associated with macrocyclic
trichothecenes produced by S. chartarum in an indoor
exposure, has been published (Croft et al., 1986), and has
proven seminal in further investigations for toxic effects
from molds found indoors. In this exposure of a family in a
home with water damage from a leaky roof, complaints
included (variably among family members and a maid)
headaches, sore throats, hair loss, flu symptoms, diarrhea,
fatigue, dermatitis, general malaise, psychological
depression. (Croft et al, 1986; Jarvis, 1995).
The Toxicology Of Stachybotrys?
Toxicologically, S. chartarum can produce extremely
potent trichothecene poisons, as evidenced by one-time
lethal doses in mice (LD50) as low as 1.0 to 7.0 mg/kg,
depending on the toxin and the exposure route. Depression of
immune response, and hemorrhage in target organs are
characteristic for animals exposed experimentally and in
field exposures (Ueno, 1980; Jakab et al., 1994).
While there are insufficient studies to establish cause and
effect relationships between Stachybotrys exposure indoors
and illness, including acute pulmonary bleeding in infants,
toxic endpoints and potency for this mold are well
described. What is less clear, and has been difficult to
establish, is whether exposures indoors are of sufficient
magnitude to elicit illness resulting from toxic exposure.
Some of these difficulties derive from the nature of the
organisms and the toxic products they produce and varying
susceptibilities among those exposed. Others relate to
problems common to retrospective case control studies. Some
of the difficulties in making the connection between toxic
mold exposures and illness are discussed below.
Johanning, (1996) in an epidemiological and immunological
investigation, reports on the health status of office
workers after exposure to aerosols containing S. chartarum.
Intensity and duration of exposure was related to illness.
Statistically significant differences for more exposed
groups were increased lower respiratory symptoms,
dermatological, eye and constitutional symptoms, chronic
fatigue, and allergy history. Duration of employment was
associated with upper respiratory, skin and central nervous
system disorders. A trend for frequent upper respiratory
infections, fungal or yeast infections, and urinary tract
infections was also observed. Abnormal findings for
components of the immune system were quantified, and it was
concluded that higher and longer indoor exposure to S.
chartarum results in immune modulation and even slight
immune suppression, a finding that supports the observation
of more frequent infections.
Three articles describing different aspects of an
investigation of acute pulmonary hemorrhage in infants,
including death of one infant, have been published recently,
as well as a CDC evaluation of the investigation (Montaña et
al., 1997; Etzel et al., 1998; Jarvis et al., 1998; MMWR,
2000; CDC, 1999). The infants in the Cleveland outbreak were
reported with pulmonary hemosiderosis, a sign of an uncommon
of lung disease that involves pulmonary hemorrhage.
Stachybotrys chartarum was shown to have an association with
acute pulmonary bleeding. Additional studies are needed to
confirm association and establish causality.
Animal experiments in which rats and mice were exposed
intranasally and intratracheally to toxic strains of S.
chartarum, demonstrated acute pulmonary hemorrhage (Nikkulin
et al. 1996). A number of case studies have been more
recently published. One involving an infant with pulmonary
hemorrhage in Kansas, reported significantly elevated spore
counts of Aspergillus/Penicillium in the patient’s bedroom
and in the attic of the home. Stachybotrys spores were also
found in the air of the bedroom, and the source of the
spores tested highly toxigenic (Flappan et al., 1999). In
another case study in Houston, Stachybotrys was isolated
from bronchopulmonary lavage fluid of a child with pulmonary
hemorrhage. (Elidemir et al., 1999), as well as recovered
from his water damaged-home. The patient recovered upon
removal and stayed well after return to a cleaned home.
Another case study reported pulmonary hemorrhage in an
infant during induction of general anesthesia. The infant
was found to have been exposed to S. chartarum prior to the
anesthetic procedure (Tripi et al., 2000). Still another
case describes pulmonary hemorrhage in an infant whose home
contained toxigenic species of Penicillium and Trichoderma
(a mold producing trichothecene poisons similar to the ones
produced by S. chartarum) as well as tobacco smoke (Novotny
and Dixit, 2000).
The Toxic Effects Of Molds?
Molds can produce other secondary metabolites such as
antibiotics and mycotoxins. Antibiotics are isolated from
mold (and some bacterial) cultures and some of their
bacteriotoxic or bacteriostatic properties are exploited
medicinally to combat infections.
Mycotoxins are also products of secondary metabolism of
molds. They are not essential to maintaining the life of the
mold cell in a primary way (at least in a friendly world),
such as obtaining energy or synthesizing structural
components, informational molecules or enzymes. They are
products whose function seems to be to give molds a
competitive advantage over other mold species and bacteria.
Mycotoxins are nearly all cytotoxic, disrupting various
cellular structures such as membranes, and interfering with
vital cellular processes such as protein, RNA and DNA
synthesis. Of course they are also toxic to the cells of
higher plants and animals, including humans.
Mycotoxins vary in specificity and potency for their target
cells, cell structures or cell processes by species and
strain of the mold that produces them. Higher organisms are
not specifically targeted by mycotoxins, but seem to be
caught in the crossfire of the biochemical warfare among
mold species and molds and bacteria vying for the same
Not all molds produce mycotoxins, but numerous species do
(including some found indoors in contaminated buildings).
Toxigenic molds vary in their mycotoxin production depending
on the substrate on which they grow (Jarvis, 1990). The
spores, with which the toxins are primarily associated, are
cast off in blooms that vary with the mold’s diurnal,
seasonal and life cycle stage (Burge, 1990; Yang, 1995). The
presence of competitive organisms may play a role, as some
molds grown in monoculture in the laboratory lose their
toxic potency (Jarvis, 1995). Until relatively recently,
mold poisons were regarded with concern primarily as
contaminants in foods.
More recently concern has arisen over exposure to multiple
mycotoxins from a mixture of mold spores growing in wet
indoor environments. Health effects from exposures to such
mixtures can differ from those related to single mycotoxins
in controlled laboratory exposures. Indoor exposures to
toxigenic molds resemble field exposures of animals more
closely than they do controlled experimental laboratory
exposures. Animals in controlled laboratory exposures are
healthy, of the same age, raised under optimum conditions,
and have only the challenge of known doses of a single toxic
agent via a single exposure route. In contrast, animals in
field exposures are of mixed ages, and states of health, may
be living in less than optimum environmental and nutritional
conditions, and are exposed to a mixture of toxic agents by
multiple exposure routes. Exposures to individual toxins may
be much lower than those required to elicit an adverse
reaction in a small controlled exposure group of ten animals
per dose group. The effects from exposure may therefore not
fit neatly into the description given for any single toxin,
or the effects from a particular species, of mold.
Field exposures of animals to molds (in contrast to
controlled laboratory exposures) show effects on the immune
system as the lowest observed adverse effect. Such immune
effects are manifested in animals as increased
susceptibility to infectious diseases (Jakab et al., 1994).
It is important to note that almost all mycotoxins have an
immunosuppressive effect, although the exact target within
the immune system may differ. Many are also cytotoxic, so
that they have route of entry effects that may be damaging
to the gut, the skin or the lung. Such cytotoxicity may
affect the physical defense mechanisms of the respiratory
tract, decreasing the ability of the airways to clear
particulate contaminants (including bacteria or viruses), or
damage alveolar macrophages, thus preventing clearance of
contaminants from the deeper lung. The combined result of
these activities is to increase the susceptibility of the
exposed person to infectious disease, and to reduce his
defense against other contaminants. They may also increase
susceptibility to cancer.
Because indoor samples are usually comprised of a mixture of
molds and their spores, it has been suggested that a general
test for cytotoxicity be applied to a total indoor sample to
assess the potential for hazard as a rough assessment (Gareis,
The following summary of toxins and their targets is adapted
from Smith and Moss (1985), with a few additions from the
more recent literature. While this compilation of effects
does not describe the effects from multiple exposures, which
could include synergistic effects, it does give a better
idea of possible results of mycotoxin exposure to multiple
- Vascular system (increased vascular fragility,
hemorrhage into body tissues, or from lung, e.g.,
aflatoxin, satratoxin, roridins).
- Digestive system (diarrhea, vomiting, intestinal
hemorrhage, liver effects, i.e., necrosis, fibrosis:
aflatoxin; caustic effects on mucous membranes: T-2
toxin; anorexia: vomitoxin.
- Respiratory system: respiratory distress, bleeding
from lungs e.g., trichothecenes.
- Nervous system, tremors, incoordination, depression,
headache, e.g., tremorgens, trichothecenes.
- Cutaneous system : rash, burning sensation sloughing
of skin, photosensitization, e.g., trichothecenes.
- Urinary system, nephrotoxicity, e.g. ochratoxin,
- Reproductive system; infertility, changes in
reproductive cycles, e.g. T-2 toxin, zearalenone.
- Immune system: changes or suppression: many
It should be noted that not all mold genera have been
tested for toxins, nor have all species within a genus
necessarily been tested. Conditions for toxin production
varies with cell and diurnal and seasonal cycles and
substrate on which the mold grows, and those conditions
created for laboratory culture may differ from those the
mold encounters in its environment.
Toxicity can arise from exposure to mycotoxins via
inhalation of mycotoxin-containing mold spores or through
skin contact with the toxigenic molds (Forgacs, 1972; Croft
et al., 1986; Kemppainen et al., 1988 -1989). A number of
toxigenic molds have been found during indoor air quality
investigations in different parts of the world. Among the
genera most frequently found in numbers exceeding levels
that they reach outdoors are Aspergillus, Penicillium,
Stachybotrys, and Cladosporium (Burge, 1986; Smith et al.,
1992; Hirsh and Sosman, 1976; Verhoeff et al., 1992; Miller
et al., 1988; Gravesen et al., 1999).
The Symptoms And Health Effects Of Mold Intoxification?
In general, exposure to mold spores and pieces
can result in allergic reactions, infections, or toxic
(poisonous) effects. These health effects are the result of
exposure by skin contact, ingestion, or breathing the mold.
Stachybotrys has been studied for a number of years, with
most of the early studies done on animals. Stachybotrys
exposure is linked to allergic reactions. People in
buildings with active stachybotrys growth generally
experience symptoms that include irritation and watering of
the eyes and nose. Coughing and skin irritation are also
allergic reactions commonly associated with stachybotrys
exposure. Animal studies clearly show that stachybotrys
exposure, even in low levels, suppresses the immune system.
Anecdotal data clearly supports this immuno-suppressive
capability in humans. As such, exposed individuals are often
susceptible to bacterial and viral infections such as the
flu.The reason that stachybotrys is of such concern is the
medical evidence that has proven that this mold has toxic
properties. Stachybotrys produces a mycotoxin (i.e., poison
from a fungus) named trichothecenes.
When inhaled or ingested stachybotrys can cause:
- Sore/hoarse throat
- Cold and flu symptoms (headaches, slight fever, and
- Nose bleeds
- Tingling or burning of nose, mouth, and perspiration
areas (under the arms or
between the legs)
- Chronic fatigue
- Memory loss
- Attention deficit/concentration problems
- Personality changes such as irritability or
- Neurological disorders such as tremors
- Hair loss
- Coughing with blood
- Bleeding in the lungs (hemosiderosis)
- Damage to internal organs including blood, liver,
kidneys, and lungs
Although not supported by definitive studies at this
point, there are some concerns about stachybotrys exposure
promoting cancer. The symptoms and health effects related to
stachybotrys depend on an individual's pre-existing health
situation, length of exposure, and the amount of
stachybotrys in the environment. Because of this, different
people in the same situation, even family members, may
experience different sets and severity of symptoms.
Can Be Done To Help Diagnose Stachybotrys Toxicity?
No single medical test can pinpoint the level of
exposure or body damage caused by stachybotrys. Proper
medical care and professional decision making is necessary
to assure that the affected individual is treated properly.
Many physicians believe that the following tests are
appropriate in conducting a medical screening for
- Complete medical exam
- Chest x-ray · Pulmonary function test
- Complete red and white blood cell count
- Blood sedimentation rate
- Stachybotrys specific RAST antibody test
- Immunoglobulin panel
- Immune competence tests
Doctors should be encouraged to discuss the environmental
situation with the industrial hygiene professionals who have
conducted sampling in the building in question etc. .
The Recommendations of Doug Haney, PhD. For Toxic Testing?
We have found that a blood-serum test cultured with agar
agents known as the Multiple Antigen Simultaneous Test
(MAST) CLA, Environmental IgG, Panel #15, conducted by
Hitachi Chemical Diagnostics,® Incorporated of Mountain
View, California, and a genetic Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR)
testing process conducted by ImmunoLabs,® Inc., in the Los
Angeles, are both very helpful in detecting fungi levels in
the human body. There are also certain blood-serum tests
available through blood laboratories for the Stachybotrys
species. These can be expensive. Consult with, and work
through your medical doctor if you are going to have them
anything be saved? Can I save any of my family heirlooms? I
have Stachybotrys. I lived in it for 6 months. Have left
everything behind but wondering if I can save anything.
The answer to your question is complex. It largely depends
upon those items which you wish to save and to a lesser
extent the type of illness the Stachybotrys is causing you.
Also, there are theoretical considerations and
considerations gained from practical experience.
On a practical basis, if you are simply allergic to the mold
than you could be more aggressive in saving items. However,
if you suffer from toxicity, like many of us do, then it is
my earnest recommendation that you be extremely cautious in
trying to save anything or you will probably deeply regret
it. In my experience, after disposing three automobiles and
three houses, the only items that can be reasonably 'safely'
retained are those that meet these requirements:
- they are non-porous (they have durable, smooth
- they contain no cellulose or other organic material
such as paper, cardboard, wood, leather, cotton, wool,
wall board etc.
- they could be thoroughly washed in a washing
- Such items would include glass ware, dishes,
silverware, CD ROMS, coins etc.
There are at least two important considerations when one
deals with this mold.
(1). How long do the spores remain
potentially viable once they are released from the living
The best answer I have received regarding this is:
"Stachybotrys spores can survive for at least a year after
release. However, the viability does decline with time. The
environment they are in will affect survival and rate of
Thus, any item you try to salvage can carry some spores that
potentially could germinate, under the right conditions, in
your new environment.
(2). How long do the mycotoxins on
stachybotrys spores remain potent after the spores are
discharged into the air?
The best answer I have received regarding this is: "The
trichothecene toxins are very stable. Again the environment
matters, if stored dry, there is little loss of activity for
Thus, if mycotoxins on the mold cause you symptoms, if you
carried some of the dead spores on the material you tried to
salvage, that material could continue to make you ill for as
long as the mycotoxins remained potent.
The answers, in quotations, were kindly provided by Mr.
Stephen Vesper of the EPA.
Finally, there is no question that Five percent sodium
hypochlorite (bleach) will kill live mold. But, that doesn't
solve your problem. You need to denature the mycotoxins on
the mold spores that are on your contaminated material. This
requires a substance that can denature the mycotoxins, while
preserving the material being treated. I haven't found the
answer to this question with any degree of reasonable
I have tried to salvage some clothing, but it has been
difficult, risky, time consuming and in many cases failed,
causing me a great deal of grief. I managed to salvage some
super silk shirts (100% polyester) by repeated washings. In
retrospect, it probably wasn't worth the effort. Very porous
clothing, such as sweaters, even of the synthetic variety,
don't seem to respond to a reasonable number of washings, at
least in my experience. Using bleach on these clothing
doesn't seem to help insofar as toxicity is concerned. And,
forget paper products, such as books, articles, magazines,
miscellaneous papers etc.
your symptoms and what has been effective treatment for you?
Symptoms included tremendous fatigue, malaise, muscle aches
restlessness, inability to sleep, and severe burning in my
chest with exertion
(due to profound pulmonary small airway disease).
My problem now is that I can't go near, much less work with,
any paper or books
contaminated by the mold spores. This includes medical
books, charts, magazines
etc. If I do get exposed become ill again anywhere from a
few days to a few
weeks, depending upon the intensity and length of exposure.
I found that with each exposure I got, my sensitivity would
increase; that is,
it would take increasingly smaller amounts of the mycotoxins
on the spores to
make me ill.
Also, I have become sensitized to incredibly small
quantities of smoke. If I
get a few whiffs of smoke from a cigarette, cigar or chimney
(smoke from a
fireplace), I'll get symptoms of fatigue, malaise, flu-like
symptoms and eve
more severe burning in the chest with exertion for a few
hours to a day or two.
Regarding treatment, the five most effective measures are:
- avoidance of living mold
- avoidance of the mold spores
- avoidance of contaminated items
- avoidance of smoke
- avoidance of fatigue (getting enough sleep)
The next five measures are:
6. inhalation ipatropium
bromide (four times daily in a nebulizer)
7. inhalation albuterol sulfate (four times daily
in a nebulizer)
8. inhalation fluticasone propionate 500 mcg and
samletrol 50 mcg (powder), 2
puffs daily (Advaid
9. Theophylline 200-300 mg daily in divided doses
10. Being careful to get enough potassium and calcium
(combination of diet & pills).
(These are my own opinions from my
personal experience, review of medical literature,
conversations with experts and conversations with fellow
sufferers. The following is not intended to be professional
or medical advice; it is advice gained from the experience
of a victim of toxic mold exposure.)
What should I
do if I am sick and my house/apartment is found to have
stachybotrys and/or other toxic mold(s)?
- Determine if you and/or you family have allergic or
- If there is any question of toxicity whatsoever, then
you and your family should exit your current environment
immediately; and, do not bring any of your old possessions,
especially including clothing, books, furniture, bedding
etc. (this will be further discussed in another post).
- You should seek medical attention from a qualified
expert, but getting out of the environment should be your
- Persons affected by mold (especially the mycotoxins of
mold) tend to severely
underestimate the dangers from their exposure.
- They tend to make their move far too late.
- When they are eventually forced to move, they tend to
make the mistake of taking their possessions - especially
ones made of paper, cardboard, animal fibers (clothing),
leather, and similar materials which the mold can readily
grow on. This causes cross contamination of their new
environment, and the process repeats itself.
- If you are symptomatic form your mold exposure, get away
from it. You can replace the
material things, but you may not be able to replace your
What is the
difference between an allergy to mold and a toxicity from
Allergic symptoms to mold would include sneezing;
a running and itchy nose; watering and itching of the eyes;
nasal stuffiness; respiratory symptoms such as wheezing and
coughing, especially in asthmatics; itching of the skin.
Toxic symptoms are due to mycotoxins on the mold spores.
They can include: memory loss ; attention
deficit/concentration problems ; personality changes such as
irritability or depression; neurological disorders such as
tremors; tingling or burning of nose, mouth; chronic
fatigue; dizziness; nausea/vomiting; bleeding in the lungs;
suppression of the immune system; headache; flu-like
symptoms; red eyes (without watering or itching);
incoordination; muscle spasms and cramps; damage to internal
organs. Toxic symptoms from these mycotoxins have
similarities to toxic symptoms from poisoning. Stachybotrys
spores produce multiple mycotoxins, including trichothecenes.
Trichothecenes have been produced commercially for use in
biological warfare. These are strong neurotoxins. Mycotoxins
are nearly all cytotoxic, disrupting various cellular
structures such as membranes, and interfering with vital
cellular processes such as protein, RNA and DNA synthesis
If you were to meet a person suffering from allergy to mold,
that person would most likely complain of symptoms similar
to those of ‘hay fever’. Those symptoms are detailed above
under “allergic symptoms”. The symptoms would most likely be
described as annoying (with varying degrees of annoyance);
they would not, however, be described as devastating. Their
symptoms would be rather straight forward , easily
observable and easily understandable.
If you were to meet a person suffering from toxicity due to
mold mycotoxins, your first impression might be that the
person is affected by a mental problem. Your first thought
might be that the person would be best off consulting a
psychiatrist or a psychologist. The person might have a lot
of vague symptoms – symptoms way out of proportion to what
you could observe – symptoms that might be difficult for the
affected person to explain and for you to understand. But,
the underling theme, if you listened carefully, would be
that of toxicity. Most likely the toxic person would
complain of extreme fatigue, weakness, tiredness, flu-like
symptoms, and often respiratory problems: but not usually
coughing or wheezing. Instead, he/she would complain of
terrible burning or soreness in his/her lungs, possibly
aggravated with exertion or exercise. And, instead of
telling you that the experience was one of annoyance (to a
lesser or greater degree) as allergy sufferers would tell
you, the toxic sufferer would more likely describe her/his
experience as a hellish nightmare.
The toxic sufferer’s behavior would more likely be that of a
frantic effort to get away from the contaminated source and
an almost paranoiac effort to rid themselves of contaminated
materials. This is in stark contrast to the allergic
sufferer who would most likely find the offending mold to be
more of a nuisance rather than a substance sent from hell.
more specific advice regarding continuing toxic mold
1. First, and foremost, if this mold is making you and /or
your family old ill, my advice is to get out of that
environment now! Continued exposure may increase the chances
chronic problem and/or permanent damage. Go to a motel if
necessary, while you are
waiting for your new quarters.
2. You must be sure to accurately identify the mold(s); they
could include Stachybotrys and/ or other toxic molds. Make
sure that the lab testing your environment is familiar with
the identification of stachybotrys and/or other toxic molds.
3. Don't disturb the mold or try to treat it yourself. If it
is stachybotrys and you disturb it, you may cause the mold
to sporulate (produce a bioaerosol).The spores can be
extremely toxic and damaging to susceptible individuals.
4. If it is stachybotrys, (and this may be also true for
other toxic species) don't take anything with you when you
move. This may sound harsh, but if you bring items
contaminated with stachybotrys spores into your new
environment you still may stay sick and you may have to
repeat the process all over. Although, the spores are not
living, they are much more toxic than the living mold as
they carry strong mycotoxins which can cause all the
symptoms you describe. The items I have found to be
especially bad are all paper products including books,
magazines, files of papers, cardboard, news papers and so
forth. Also, the mold clings to fabric such as stuffed
furniture, bedding, carpet, and clothing. You may get away
with items that have smooth surfaces and that are easily
washable such as dishes, pots, pans, glasses, silverware
5. The precautions I mentioned in item #4 are from my own
personal experience with
stachybotrys and may not apply to other molds or all
individuals exposed to stachybotrys. However, if you do find
stachybotrys, and as both you and your child are quite
symptomatic, I would give very serious thought to item #4.
Also, I know that there are others exposed to stachybotrys
who have had similar experiences.
The views expressed on this page are solely the views of Dr.
Joseph Klein and his associates and/or resources. The views
expressed on this page are not necessarily reflective of the
views or opinions AMI.|
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