Understanding the Need for Human Mycotoxin Testing

The laboratory director of RealTime Laboratories talks about mycotoxin testing and why it may be required.

Carrollton, TX, July 17, 2017 – Tracing down the source of an illness is crucial in helping doctors find viable treatments to ease or eliminate patient symptoms. When certain illnesses, such as chronic fatigue and asthma, have no discernable source, mycotoxins may be at their root. Simple screening procedures that check for elevated mycotoxin levels may provide the information doctors need to treat conditions more effectively.

“Mycotoxins are poisonous molecules produced and released by molds and fungi into the environment,” explains Dr. Dennis Hooper, laboratory director at RealTime Laboratories. “Certain mycotoxins can have profound health implications for people if they are ingested, inhaled or absorbed into the body. Research has linked different mycotoxins to illnesses that range from common respiratory complaints, such as chronic sinusitis, to more dubious conditions like cancer.”

Mycotoxin contamination in humans often occurs when mold is allowed to grow unchecked in water-damaged buildings. While environmental inspectors will be able to assist with mitigating the structural concerns related to mold and water damage, human mycotoxin testing is beneficial to confirm or deny human contamination. Mycotoxin testing only requires a urine sample that is then set to a lab for analysis. The panel test takes about 10 working days to process with the results often proving eye-opening for patients and their healthcare providers.

“The specific protocols for addressing human mycotoxin contamination will depend on the type of mycotoxin found in a panel, its level and the symptoms that have presented,” says Dr. Hooper. “Understanding that mold poisons may be at the root of increased asthma symptoms, for example, can enable a doctor to devise a more comprehensive and potentially more effective treatment plan.”

When unexplained illnesses arise after exposure to water-damaged buildings, mycotoxins may be at the heart of complaints. Testing can pave the way for more effective diagnosis and treatment. To find out more about mycotoxin testing, visit RealTimeLab.com online.

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Why Water-Damaged Buildings Pose a Real Health Threat

When water damage occurs in indoor spaces concerns can go well beyond cosmetic. If left unchecked, water soaked into building materials with organic components, such as ceiling tiles, walls and wood, can promote the growth of mold. While the estimated 50,000 different species of mold are perfectly normal in the outdoor environment, about 200 types can cause serious health concerns for people when they move indoors. Known as toxic molds, the 200 species are responsible for creating dangerous mold poisons, or mycotoxins. If inhaled, ingested or absorbed into the body, mycotoxins can promote the development of serious and sometimes life-threatening illnesses.

Addressing water damage as soon as it occurs is generally the best bet for safeguarding people and property alike. This means addressing the source of the damage first. Fixing that broken pipe, for example, is critical for preventing repeat issues. It also calls for removing and/or treating areas of water damage to prevent mold from growing all together.

If mold growth has already occurred, it is typically best to let professionals handle mitigation work in water damaged buildings. Environmental inspectors will be able to assist with mold and/or mycotoxin testing and can help oversee the process to remove these contaminants and contaminated-items from the environment. Leaving mitigation once mold is evident to the professionals can help ensure that personal exposure or continued exposure to mycotoxins does not occur.

Should mold growth already be evident, it may be advised to check people who live or work in the environment for mycotoxin exposure. Urine screening panels can confirm or deny exposure and may help medical professionals address any potentially negative health effects. Long-term mycotoxin exposure has been associated with such serious health concerns as kidney toxicity, some forms of cancer, immune suppression and neurotoxicity, among others.

Addressing water damage in an indoor environment immediately is necessary for safeguarding people and animals from the hazards toxic molds pose. If contamination of people is already suspected, mycotoxin screening panels may be advisable for helping medical professionals treat or prevent illness.

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Mycotoxin Exposure Confirmed: Next Steps

About 200 of the estimated 50,000 mold species known to man are considered serious health threats to people and animals. These toxic molds, as they are called, produce mycotoxins. Quite literally mold poisons, mycotoxins are released into the environment and can contaminate people through inhalation, ingestion and contact with the skin. Associated with such serious health concerns as chronic respiratory complaints, kidney toxicity and chronic fatigue syndrome, mycotoxin contamination can be tested through the use of a simple urine panel. If the test shows exposure, the findings enable people and their healthcare providers to take action to mitigate the effects the toxins may have on the body.

If a mycotoxin panel comes back positive, people who have been exposed may find these steps advisable to take:

  • Working with a doctor to address any health-related concerns – If mycotoxin exposure is the suspected source of illness, such as asthma, working directly with the doctor who ordered the screening panel is important. There isn’t a specific treatment protocol to address exposure, but different methods are available depending on the specific illness in question and the type of mycotoxin found. Anti-fungal medications, for example, may be recommended.
  • Isolating the source of contamination – If exposure to mycotoxins is confirmed, it is important to identify the source. Exposure is generally associated with buildings that have suffered water damage that wasn’t properly addressed. In many cases, a current home or office building will be the source. Exposure, however, may have occurred years in the past in some cases.
  • Mitigating the source of contamination, if necessary – If a current home or office is the source of contamination, taking steps to ensure proper mediation can be vital for preventing further contamination. An environmental inspector can help confirm mold sources and make recommendations on how to properly and safely address issues. If the building of exposure isn’t personally owned, work with the owner to ensure safe mitigation. It is important, however, to not return to the environment where exposure occurred until the contamination is addressed professionally.

If exposure to toxic mold is suspected, mycotoxin testing can help confirm or deny concerns. Should test results come back positive, working with medical and environmental specialists can be important for safeguarding personal health and the well-being of others exposed to the environment where contamination occurred.

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What’s Involved in Human Mycotoxin Testing?

Molds and fungi are a natural part of the environment, but that doesn’t mean exposure to them or the mycotoxins they produce is healthy for humans. Some molds, in fact, create poisons that are directly linked to serious health conditions in people, such as asthma and other chronic respiratory complaints, kidney toxicity, immune suppression and birth defects. Mycotoxin testing is an effective way for people and their doctors to determine if a health condition is linked to exposure and it may help guide more effective treatment as a result.

Mycotoxins are quite literally mold poisons. They are tiny molecules that are produced by mold and fungi that can be released into the environment. Human contamination by mycotoxins may occur through inhalation, ingestion and skin contact. While there more than 50,000 different species of mold known to man, only about 200 types are known to pose serious risks to people. These species produce mycotoxins that can have potentially life-threatening impacts.

Human mycotoxin testing is designed to screen people for the presence of mold poisons in their bodies. The resulting information can help people who are tested trace down the source of illness and may also be used to help confirm potential toxins in the indoor environments they frequent. When human mycotoxin testing is used in conjunction with environmental testing, for example, people exposed may be able to prove concerns related to sick building syndrome. This, in turn, may prompt employers or landlords into taking actions that might result in proper remediation of mold-contaminated buildings.

Mycotoxin testing is a relatively simple procedure in humans. Labs that provide this service generally test for a panel of 15 different mycotoxins using urine samples. In some cases, nasal secretions, sputum or tissue that has been collected by a physician. Once the samples are sent into the lab, screening begins to determine what, if any, mycotoxins are found within a patient’s system. Results are typically sent directly to the ordering physician in an easy-to-understand format that shows detection levels in parts-per-billion as is standard in the medical community. Results will also tell if a test is positive, negative or equivocal. Screening time generally takes about 10 days from receipt of samples.

If exposure to dangerous mycotoxins is suspected, testing can help confirm or deny the concern. Should mycotoxins be found in the body, it is recommended that patients work with their healthcare providers to address any medical concerns. It is also strongly urged that people who test positive make sure the environment in which contamination occurred is properly addressed by an environmental inspector and mitigation team.

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Tips for Avoiding ‘Sick Building’ Liability Claims by Using Mycotoxin Testing as a Guide

Landlords and employers are obligated by law to provide safe environments for their tenants or employees. Failure to make sure buildings, homes and apartments are up to snuff may result in costly liability claims if something happens to injure or sicken a party or parties who frequent said property. When water damage has occurred and mold growth is suspected or evident, property owners can help themselves cut liability risks by taking immediate action. Environmental inspections, complete with mycotoxin testing, should be top priorities in such circumstances.

When mold growth within an indoor environment is suspected one of the first calls should be to an inspector who specializes in mitigation. An environmental inspector will do two primary things:

  • Test a property for evidence of mold contamination
  • Trace the source of the water damage that promoted mold growth in the first place if mold contamination is found.

Both actions are extremely important for helping property owners catch and mitigate damage as quickly and cost-effectively as possible. A third step, however, should also be requested to further safeguard the people who frequent the building: mycotoxin testing.

If mold growth is confirmed, mycotoxin testing can provide precise insights on the hazards posed to people. This type of testing goes beyond determining the presence of mold to detect what, if any, poisonous toxins have been released into the environment. Mycotoxins are small molecules that are produced by molds and fungi. These toxins, when released into an environment, can cause very serious health concerns, including some forms of cancer, kidney toxicity and pulmonary hemorrhages, among others. Property owners who take the extra step of testing for mycotoxin presence, will be better positioned to safeguard their tenants or employees from exposure. In doing so, they may be able to mitigate or eliminate any potential liability in the process.

When mold growth is suspected in a building, property owners will find addressing the concern quickly can save them a great deal of time, money and liability. To make sure people are adequately protected from hazardous exposure, mycotoxin testing will be in order. A simple environmental test can help landlords and employers make informed decisions about evacuation and remediation that may spare them liability concerns down the road. More importantly, identifying indoor hazards and enabling people to avoid them can prove lifesaving in some cases.


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