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Free Encyclopedia of Building & Environmental Inspection, Testing, Diagnosis, Repair
ENVIRONMENTAL HAZARDS - INSPECT, TEST, REMEDY
MOLD: A COMPLETE GUIDE to TEST CLEAN PREVENT
ACTIVITY of MOLD in BUILDINGS
AGE of MOLD - Old is the Mold?
AIR CLEANER PURIFIER TYPES
AIR FILTERS for HVAC SYSTEMS
AIR TEST SAMPLING CASSETTE STUDY
AIRBORNE MOLD COUNT NUMBER GUIDE
AIRBORNE PARTICLE ANALYSIS METHODS
ALLERGEN TESTS for BUILDINGS
BROWN HAIRY BATHROOM MOLD
BIBLIOGAPHY for ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH, MOLD, IAQ
BLACK MOLD, HARMLESS COSMETIC
BLACK MOLD, TOXIC & ALLERGENIC
BLEACHING MOLD, Advice about
BOOK MOLD, Moldy Book Cleaning
BOOKSTORE - ENVIRONMENTAL
CACTUS FUNGI / MOLD
CAR MOLD CONTAMINATION
CARPET DUST IDENTIFICATION
CARPET PADDING ASBESTOS, MOLD, ODORS
CARPET FUNGICIDAL SPRAY
CARPET STAIN DIAGNOSIS
CARPET & other STAIN TESTS
CARPET TEST PROCEDURE
CARPETING & INDOOR AIR QUALITY
CHAIN OF CUSTODY - TEST SAMPLE
CLEARANCE INSPECTIONS - MOLD CLEANUP
DIRECTORY of MOLD / ENVIRONMENTAL EXPERTS
DIRT FLOOR MOLD CONTAMINATION
Disinfecting Buildings with Bleach
DO-IT-YOURSELF MOLD CLEANUP WARNINGS
DUST ANALYSIS for FIBERGLASS
DUST, HVAC CONTAMINATION STUDY
EFFLORESCENCE, Salts & White / Brown Deposits
FEAR of MOLD - MYCOPHOBIA
Fiberboard Insulation Sheathing Mold
FIBERGLASS INSULATION MOLD
FIND MOLD, ESSENTIAL STEPS
MOLD in BUILDINGS
FIRE DAMAGE vs MOLD DAMAGE
FLOODS IN BUILDINGS-mold
FOXING STAINS on books & papers
FUNGICIDAL SPRAY & SEALANT USE GUIDE
GAS DETECTION INSTRUMENTS
GAS EXPOSURE EFFECTS, TOXIC
GAS EXPOSURE LIMITS & STANDARDS
GAS TEST PROCEDURES
HOUSE DUST ANALYSIS
HOUSE DUST COMPONENTS
HUMIDITY CONTROL & TARGETS INDOORS
LAB PROCEDURES MICROSCOPE TECHNIQUES
LIGHT, GUIDE to FORENSIC USE
MEDIA BLASTING for MOLD REMOVAL
METHANE GAS SOURCES
MICROSCOPE DIGITAL PHOTOGRAPHY
MEDIA BLASTING for MOLD REMOVAL
METHANE GAS SOURCES
MICROSCOPE DIGITAL PHOTOGRAPHY
MILDEW ERRORS, IT's MOLD
MILDEW REMOVAL & PREVENTION
MOISTURE CONTROL in BUILDINGS
MOLD: A COMPLETE GUIDE TO MOLD
MOLD EXPERT, WHEN TO HIRE
MVOCs & MOLDY MUSTY ODORS
MYCOPHOBIA, STAINS MISTAKEN for MOLD
MYCOTOXIN EFFECTS of MOLD EXPOSURE
ODORS GASES SMELLS, DIAGNOSIS & CURE
RENTERS GUIDE TO MOLD & IAQ
ROBIGUS & Wheat Rust Fungus
SMELL PATCH TEST to Track Down Odors
STAINS on & in BUILDINGS, CAUSES & CURES
THERMAL IMAGING MOLD SCANS
TRAPPED MOLD BETWEEN WOOD SURFACES
UV LIGHT BLACK LIGHT USES
VAPOR BARRIERS & CONDENSATION
VENTILATION in BUILDINGS
Volatile Organic Compounds VOCs
WATER ENTRY in buildings
Classes of harmful or irritating mold & mold related illnesses: this document lists classes or types of mold (harmless to toxic) and names types of common mold-related illness. We explain the types and classes of mold or fungal related illnesses, and we provide definitions and comparisons among mold-illness terms that otherwise can lead to confusion: cosmetic mold, allergenic mold, toxic mold, toxic black mold, pathogenic mold, mycoses or mycosis, mycotoxicoses or mycotoxicosis, and primary versus opportunistic pathogens.
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Readers should also see MOLD RELATED ILLNESS for a complete, detailed list of health complaints associated with mold exposure. See MOLD DOCTORS - ENVIRONMENTAL MEDICINE for help in finding a physician specializing in mold exposure, mold related illness, or environmental medicine.
"Allergenic mold" is not normally dangerous in small quantities, but can be a problem for people who are particularly allergic to mold or who have asthma. In large quantities it is more likely to be a problem for these individuals.
Allergenic mold can be cleaned or removed by people who are not personally mold-sensitive by using ordinary cleaning methods and while wearing appropriate respiratory protection and gloves.
People who are particularly mold sensitive should avoid working with or disturbing moldy materials which might cause a reaction or increase their sensitivity. Where large areas of this mold are involved, e.g. in excess of 30 sq.ft., professional cleaning is likely to be needed.
Examples of Mold Related Illnesses
Mold in this group can cause infections in humans, including not only people at particular risk (such as those having a compromised immune system) but also people who are normal and healthy. In general, fungal or mold-related illnesses that are classed as mycoses result from a fungus that actually grow on or in human (or other animal) tissues.
Please also read about the difference between fungal mycoses & fungal mycotoxicoses in Definitions of & Explanations of Mycotoxins, Mycoses, Mycotoxicoses (found below).
In most general terms we often include this group in our "Toxic mold" category below, but properly it is a separate group.
Toxic mold can present serious health risk to humans or animals by producing or containing chemical poisons. Unlike the pathogenic molds discussed above, Health effects from toxic mold exposure may be temporary irritation or more serious longer term illness, immunosuppression, neurological disorders, or cancer.
Mycotoxins can be produced by or are contained some fungal spores and may remain present in the fungal material (potentially also in fungal hyphae) even if the mold spores are not viable - i.e. have been "killed" by a chemical disinfectant (bleach).
When a toxic mold has been identified as contaminating a building, advice from a mold professional is appropriate. The average homeowner should not attempt to clean up this type of contamination.
The Toxic Black Mold Mistake - inaccurate reports, misspending, building cleaning mistakes
What is misleading, in fact in our opinion downright dangerous about the term "toxic black mold" is that people may be misled to believe that only black mold is harmful. Not only is this not at all the case, but in many building mold investigation cases dark colored molds (which may be black, dark brown, or other dark colors) are selected for sampling, resulting in important errors when assessing the risk of building mold contamination:
What's the difference between fungal mycoses & fungal mycotoxicoses & what are the usual pathways of infection?
Actually our use of the prefix "fungal" is redundant as both mycoses and mycotoxicoses originate in the fungal kingdom.
Mycoses are pathogens that attack healthy or weakened individuals, as we distinguish in a moment, and in seriousness range from an irritating skin fungal infection to potentially fatal invasion of bodily tissues in the lung (aspergillosis) or even the head and brain. What characterizes fungal mycosis is that the fungus is actually growing on or in the tissues or organs of the person or animal affected. (Both athlete's foot (tinea) and aspergillosis involve such fungal growth on or in a person's tissues - a foot or a lung for example).
The usual path of infection for mycoses is from breathing in spores or by skin contact.
Mycotoxicoses are examples of “poisoning by natural means” and thus are analogous to the pathologies caused by exposure to pesticides or heavy metal residues. In other words, unlike a mycosis (fungus growing in an organ), a mycotoxicosis acts on a person other animal by producing a chemical that itself is a poison. 
The usual path of infection for mycotoxicoses are eating contaminated food but breathing in spores or skin contact infections also occur.
Comparing two types of mycoses: primary pathogens vs opportunistic pathogens
A more accurate characterization of the Fifth Kingdom (molds) with respect to mold related illness (mycoses) start by dividing the causing pathogenic fungi into two categories
Examples & Symptoms of Mycotoxicoses
The most important mycotoxins that may affect humans or other animals are aflatoxin, citrinin, ergot akaloids, fumonisins, ochratoxin A, patulin, trichothecenes, and zearalenone. These poisons may enter the body by eating contaminated food (most common means) but also by inhalation or skin contact (such as some of our clients who report severe and some protracted medical symptoms that ensued after unusually high exposure to Stachybotrys chartarum or Memnoniella echinata [the author] during moldy building demolition or cleanup.) 
Definition of mycotoxin
A mycotoxin is a poison produced by a fungus. "Poison" as used here is properly understood to cause illness or death to a human or
Quoting from Bennett and Kilch in Clinical Microbiology in an authoritative article that itself cites 290 expert sources:
Not all fungi produce mycotoxins and those that do don't always do so
Not all fungi produce mycotoxins, and even fungi that do produce them do not always do so - depending on growing conditions such as what particular "food" substrate the fungus is growing upon.
Interestingly, and part of our objection to "killing" mold as a mold remedy, is that some mold spores that contain mycotoxins
A More Broad Set of Categories of Building Mold
A more complete categorization that helps people understand the risk associated with all types of mold growths found in buildings on building surfaces would use the following categories: 
Attempts to "kill" mold, such as by using bleach, are inappropriate and ineffective since some spores can be dangerous even if they have been made not viable. This is why simply spraying or "bleaching" a moldy surface with a disinfectant is not effective. Actual cleaning or removal of contaminated materials is the appropriate step when fungal-contamination is found indoors.
An effective mold cleanup is entirely possible and often leaves a building cleaner than when it was originally constructed. A mold clearance test following professional remediation is used to assure that the cleanup has been effective.
But unless the original causes of mold growth are corrected (usually leaks and building water entry) the problem is likely to recur. Finally, the object of mold cleanup is not normally to produce a sterile indoor environment.
Mold is normal material found in outdoor air and is present virtually everywhere. The cleaning objective is to clean up or "remove" problematic levels of allergenic or toxic moldand to bring the remaining level of common fungal spores in a building down to levels commonly found in buildings which have not suffered leaks, water entry, and problematic mold growth.
Reference: some of the notes from this page are paraphrased from a guest column, "Understanding the Health Effects of Mold," by Dr. Ajit S. Arora, MD, PhD, appearing in AIHA's magazine "The Synergist," September 2003,
See our main website (below) for very important additional information such as mold testing, cleanup and mold remediation guideline resources.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About Mold Exposure & Persistence of Mold Related Illness Complaints
Question: Do Mold Exposure Symptoms Persist After Leaving the Moldy Environment?
I have been trying for months to find a mold doctor, mold test lab or mold treatment clinic that will do mold testing in humans. I have been sick for over two years and to date my doctors are still not sure what is wrong with me. I have seen a total of 17 physicians, but still I have no diagnosis. The latest finding is one doc who thinks I might have MS. However, I have been reading the symptoms of mold poisoning which also mimic the symptoms of MS.
Unfortunately, I can't get any of my doctors to agree with one another on the mold theory. They keep telling me that if you remove yourself from the [mold-contamination] situation - you should get better. That hasn't happened to me, thus why they think it is something else.
Therefore, I wanted to know if you can point me in the right direction for mold testing in humans. I don't mean skin testing - I've had that done twice already - and I was positive for molds among other things. I need the kind of testing to diagnose whether or not the mold in colonizing in my body.
Mold or Health complaint began with an irritating car interior
I want to clarify that my symptoms started over two years ago - when I purchased a used vehicle. The initial symptoms started about the second day I was driving the car (I bought the car in Dec.). It started with a burning/irritating throat (almost like chemical/dirt was being blown into my throat). Then it progressed to a cough, respiratory problems, shortness of breath, chest pain, muscle aches, light-headedness and so on.
Because I am no longer driving the car - doctors feel I should have gotten better. However, I stopped driving the car for several months. Then I got the car re-detailed (thinking at first it was in the detailing b/c an environmental dr mentioned that when I had a visit). I got back in the car for one month. The first 3 weeks I did not turn on the heat. The last week I turned on the heat and I got that same burning/irritating throat (which takes a while to subside). It was then that I knew my illness was coming from the car and I haven't driven it since.
My sister has been helping me diagnose and we both feel that there is mold/fungus in the AC/heating unit and is something that my body just won't tolerate. I've told every doctor I've visited - they sill feel that if I'm not driving the car anymore I should have gotten better.
I am over my head with anger and frustration!! Out of 17 doctors, not one believes that's possible. I'm a person who rarely gets sick. Any of my friends and co-workers can vouch for me. That's why when I bought that car - it was the only new thing in my life - and I know it made me sick and I have been sick ever since. Because it's the car involved - it seems like it's making it more difficult to get a diagnosis.
I live in PA - are their any mold doctors or human mold-exposure testing labs around my area that test for mold in humans? Any help you can give me is much appreciated. - Christine
Reply: Mold-related Illness Symptoms May Be Persistent
I am not a doctor and emphasize that I am only reporting on my experience as a field investigator, but it seems that while removing yourself from a mold-contaminated environment is recommended and often gives relief of symptoms and complaints, the medicine is more complex than that:
First, some mold exposures can produce ongoing, long-lasting, even permanent symptoms, for example the development of adult-onset asthma.
Second, moving out of a known mold-contaminated environment does not itself guarantee that the new environment is free of mold, allergens, indoor air quality concerns, etc.
Put another way, if on removing oneself from an environment suspected of causing or contributing to health related complaints, the complaints stop or diminish, that's very suggestive about that environment. But the converse does not hold. That is, someone suffering from apparently-building-related complaints may find that some of those complaints may persist.
A physician specializing in environmental medicine along with building inspection by a highly qualified field investigator can work together to help sort out these concerns.
Take a look at MOLD DOCTORS - ENVIRONMENTAL MEDICINE for help in finding a physician specializing in mold exposure, mold related illness, or environmental medicine.
At MOLD RELATED ILLNESS for an introduction and see MOLD RELATED ILLNESS SYMPTOMS for a complete, detailed list of health complaints associated with mold exposure. Warning: our MOLD RELATED ILLNESS SYMPTOMS list is not a medical document, has not been peer-reviewed by the medical profession, and is not in a medical sense authoritative. It does, however, collect both substantiated mold-related-illness complaints and a wide sampling of the nature and range of other complaints from people who believe or fear that mold or similar exposure has been a factor in their physical or mental health.
The Indoor Environment of Cars and Campers
About the effects of the indoor environment in an automobile: indeed we have investigated complaints of odors, smells, and mold contamination in automobiles. Keep in mind that for some individuals, particularly people who are sensitive to chemical smells and even perfumes, some plastics, vinyls, and carpets used in automobiles might, especially when new, be an irritant or a response trigger. And mold in automobiles, typically due to a leak that has wet insulation or carpeting, can be difficult to track down and clean.
At BOAT & CAR SMELLS & ODORS we discuss the car odor problem, and at CAR SMELL - Mold DEODORIZING we report on tracking down, cleaning, and removing smells from mold in cars, campers, and similar vehicles.
Follow Your Physician's Advice About Correlating Illness, Health Complaints, & the Environment
Usually the best place to start tracking down an illness is with the doctor who is your general care physician. Typically he or she will refer you to an appropriate expert based on that discussion and examination. Our OPINION is that as long as you are consulting a physician who has experience and expertise in environmental medicine, pulmonology, allergy, mold-related-illness, or similar fields, and as long as the physician took time to hear your concerns, case history, and to examine you, that person is in the best spot to answer a critical diagnostic question:
Are your health complaints ones that have been associated with environmental exposure to irritants, contaminants. If the answer is "yes" or even "sometimes" then that doctor's advice can help set the direction for inspection and testing of environments where you have spent time in buildings or automobiles.
Question: Bio-Signs Urine Test for Mycotoxins
I recently had a urine test done by a company called Bio signs, this test detects mycotoxins that may present from molds. In my case it detected a severe systemic yeast infection due to moderate exposure to a myotoxin produced from toxic black mold. This test cost almost $600.00, but to be able to go to a doctor and give them the exact exposure information and to know what is happening in my body made that investment well worth the money. I also had the peace of mind knowing that leaving the infected area was not something I could second guess anymore. It has been priceless in so many ways and knowing that it is all not in my head gives me the strength to fight to get my health back. I can not explain the turmoil I have been through as my body has rejected the exposure, hives, very high blood pressure, anxiety, liver elevation to hepatitis B, severe vision problems, constant bronchitis and pneamonia and my bowels do not function. I would encourage anyone that feels like they just have to know to take this test. I have a long road and pray that it has not done to much damage. Knowledge is power and I have been on my own crusade to explain the hasards of Mold. I am only 44 years old and I was healthy five years ago before i rented my business space and now I feel like I am double in age..Good luck and I hope this helps in your quest for health. - Nikki 10/19/11
Watch out: People who suspect that their illness is caused or contributed to by environmental contaminants such as indoor mold exposure should ask their primary physician for a referral to an M.D. who has expertise in environmental medicine. This step is particularly important because in our OPINION the fear and frustration that naturally plague anyone who suffers from an illness for a long time without finding successful treatment can make people vulnerable victims for a plethora of "cures" that lack medical basis, are not supported by sound research, and in some cases may be dangerous. In the medical profession there's a saying, A man who treats himself has fool for a physician. If your doctor doesn't listen to you with care and respect, or never even looks at you (maybe spending too much time looking instead a the computer) then I agree it's time to try elsewhere.
Quoting from Bennett and Kilch in Clinical Microbiology:
Keep us posted, as what you learn will certainly help other readers, and if you have further specific questions about our website articles I'll be glad to research and reply.
Question: Reader recommends diet & TV shows to cure mold-related illness
People should realize that antibiotics ARE mycotoxins. They are the same. Indeed, they will cause systemic fungal infection. Differentiating between systemic and digestive yeast infections are difficult; the best course of action is to treat both simultaneously. Eating a diet that starves fungus (low carb/sugar) while rotating natural antifungals (olive leaf, oregano oil, tea tree oil) along with re-alkalizing the body chemistry as well as balancing hormones and increasing immunity/replenishing healthy gut bacteria is the only way to cure fungal disease.
Reply: best to consult a qualified physician not TV when treating a fungal (or other) illness; not all fungi produce mycotoxins & antibiotics are not properly called mycotoxins
Thanks Glen, for the interesting comments. But your comments are not quite accurate and in some cases are dangerous.
The literature on mycotoxins and mold related illness is enormous. We include some representative, authoritative, and quite credible citations in our reply to your remarks.
Watch out: We agree that a yeast infection in the mouth can be an annoying side-effect of taking antibiotics, but it would be nothing short of stupid to refuse to take an antibiotic when necessary and as prescribed by your doctor. For example, typhoid fever, which is generally successfully treated using a strong (fluoroquinolone group) antibiotic, can otherwise be fatal in up to 30% of cases. Having to treat a yeast infection as a side effect of curing typhoid fever seems a small price to pay. While rehydration is an important component in treating typhoid, eating and drinking a healthy diet won't cure typhoid fever once it has been contracted.
And to add a bit more accuracy to Glen's comments above, there are many fungal illnesses that will not manifest as an oral yeast infection, starting at your feet with athlete's foot and including life-threatening Aspegillosis - a fungal infection of the lung.
A mycotoxin is a poison produced by a fungus. "Poison" as used here is a chemical that causes illness or death to a human or
Comparing antibiotics to mycotoxins
The widely used antibiotic Penicillin, originally produced by two genera of the Penicillium fungus first found on an orange  indeed is produced by that fungus not as a gift to humans but to enable the fungus to flourish on some of its food surfaces by trying to kill off other fungi that might land there.
But in use as a medicine for humans or other animals, Penicillin is NOT a mycotoxin nor is it acting as a mycotoxin. See our
Choosing a diet is unlikely to cure serious fungal infections nor mold related illness
Finally, your suggestion that fungal disease in humans can be cured by diet is dangerously misleading. While we applaud eating a
A review of medical texts that enumerate the wide range of fungal infections and mold related illnesses (Mycoses) that affect humans and animals will illustrate that successful treatment, choice of medication, and other measures vary widely but none relies on diet as sufficient. 
Watch out: Mold-related illnesses range from the irritation of athlete's foot to life threatening aspergillosis. In short, your advice to cure mold-related illness by diet could kill someone.
Questions & answers or comments about the classes & types of mold-related illnesses, fungal infections, etc.
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Technical Reviewers & References
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