The Health Implications of Mold
IS YOUR HOME MAKING YOU SICK?
As a wholistic/Integrative doctor with a special interest in chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia, I was intrigued many years ago after two different patients informed me that they had first become unwell whilst living in moldy homes. One had moved into a brand new home where corners had been cut with the plumbing in the bathroom and laundry, with subsequent water damage. The second had been living in an older home with rising damp-and the entire family had tipped into chronic fatigue and fibromyalgia. It was only upon enlisting the evaluation of a skilled building biologist, that they had discovered the extent of the problem. In both cases, however, I was perplexed to discover that both patients remained chronically unwell even after their homes had been remediated or they had moved out. Medical specialists including neurologists, ENT surgeons, allergists and respiratory physicians had all been unable to help these patients.
My curiosity led me to an internet search, and the pivotal discovery of the website of US doctor, Dr Ritchie Shoemaker: www.survivingmold.com. I have been extremely fortunate to train under his guidance and certification program in the US, and have adopted his breakthrough 10 step mold recovery protocol to help patients around Australia.
In the US it is estimated that 50% of buildings are water damaged (National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health NIOSH 2013). Even more disturbing is the fact that mold proliferates readily within 2 days of un-remediated water damage. It is not always visible to the eye, as the damage can occur within ceiling or wall cavities, or under floors with poorly planned foundations or inadequate subfloor ventilation. It is not just older homes which are at risk many problems can arise in newer homes, including rapidly erected apartments and housing estates, with builders cutting costs and selecting the cheapest plumbing quotes. Mold spores invisible to the human eye can then migrate into ducted heating and cooling systems, as well as settle into books, soft furnishings and upholstery, and clothing. Ironically, with the advent of five star energy efficiency ratings, many new homes now are at risk of impaired ventilation.
More worryingly, 25% of the population is susceptible to the development of CIRS-Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome- from the bio-toxins of pathogens of mold (or tick-borne illnesses). These vulnerable individuals have impaired immune response HLA genes with defective antigen (foreign bodies including mold spore) presentation to their protective T lymphocytes-which is the essential initiating step to mount an immune response against the fungal infection. They also have impaired detoxification and bio-toxin clearance pathways. As a result, the bio-toxins produced by the mold spores keep recirculating indefinitely in the body, and these patients develop a myriad of chronic debilitating symptoms. The immune system reacts with chronic inflammation, including production of cytokines which produce flu-like symptoms and cause widespread inflammatory damage throughout the body.
Dr Shoemaker’s 10 step protocol to help mycotoxin elimination and recovery of the immune system and hormone suppression is vital to their recovery. Careful remediation or exclusion from contaminated homes/workplaces or schools is the first crucial step in their rehabilitation.
NutriPath, the Integrative Medical Laboratory based in Melbourne, is now the first laboratory in Australia to offer Dr Shoemaker’s comprehensive blood mold panel of key inflammatory and hormone biomarkers, essential to guide the steps of his protocol and track recovery.
A mold assessment and remediation process must be undertaken by a highly trained professional. I highly recommend Dr Cameron Jones, a phD microbiologist, (www.biologicalhealthservices.com.au) who travels around Australia to both assess the extent of mold damage in homes, schools and workplaces, as well as assist with comprehensive remediation. Cameron Jones uses infra-red testing to ascertain the areas of water damage, measures spore counts in all rooms, and then cultures the mold species in his microbiological laboratory. I was recently grateful to engage the services of Dr Jones to inspect a property which I was considering purchasing, only to uncover an extensive mold issue which the owner had ignored. He saved me from embarking on a potentially very costly endeavor!
There are two other knowledgeable Melbourne-based building biologists; Nicole Bijlsma (author of Healthy Home, Healthy Family; website www.buildingbiology.com.au) and Lucinda Curran (www.ecohealthsolutions.com.au), who can perform comprehensive home assessments, and advise with remediation options.