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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Why Mycotoxin Testing is Important

Lots of people suffer from conditions, such as depression, chronic fatigue and asthma. Most, however, do not have symptoms that come out of the blue after years of relative good health. When a serious, chronic health condition arises with little or no forewarning, environmental concerns may be at the root. For some people, the source of illness may very well trace back to mycotoxin exposure.

Mycotoxins are small, but dangerous molecules released by mold and fungi. When mold is able to grow within an indoor environment, these tiny molecules may enter the air and contaminate surfaces. People who are exposed to them through inhalation or other contact may become sickened. The symptoms and conditions mycotoxins may produce will vary based on the type of mold involved. Asthma, chronic sinus complaints, fatigue and even depression may all trace their roots to these contaminants. Serious, potentially fatal conditions are also linked to certain mycotoxins.

When mycotoxin exposure is suspected, it may be strongly recommended that people undergo testing. A simple urine screen may be able to confirm or deny the suspicion and determine the type of mycotoxin involved. Doing so can be important for these reasons and more:

  • To identify the potential cause of illness – When people who enjoy generally good health are suddenly afflicted by a serious or chronic illness, understanding the source may lead to a cure or better treatment. If asthma, for example, was never a concern before a move into a home with a musty basement, mycotoxin contamination may be the blame. Knowing the cause may enable more adequate and effective treatment.
  • To provide proof for environmental mitigation – When an illness is traced to “sick building syndrome,” having the proof of causation can be very important for ensuring the root issues are addressed. Landlords and employers, for example, may be reluctant to work with an environmental inspector to properly clean up water-damaged, mold-infested areas. When proof of contamination and exposure is available, the likelihood of mitigation taking place generally rises. This can help those who have been sickened enjoy cleaner, safer indoor environments. It may also serve to safeguard the health of others.

Mold is a perfectly natural part of the environment. When it is allowed to grow unchecked indoors, the mycotoxins produced may pose serious risks to people. Getting tested for mycotoxin exposure can be important for addressing health-related concerns and making sure damaged environments are addressed properly and safely.

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Mycotoxins Can Have Serious Impacts on Health

Courtesy of all the press toxic “black mold” has received, most people understand that mold in indoor environments can be quite dangerous. What they might not realize though is that molds other than those characterized as “black” may also cause health concerns. What’s more, many people are unaware of just how it is mold poses risks to them and their loved ones.

Toxic molds are able to produce molecules that are known as mycotoxins. These tiny toxic molecules are commonly produced by mold strains that are associated with water-damaged homes and buildings. Mycotoxins are essentially the poison produced by toxic molds. These toxins are released by mold and may contaminate the air within indoor environments and surfaces within a home or building. When they come into contact with humans, mycotoxins, depending on their type, can cause very serious health concerns.

While some mycotoxins have properties that are deemed beneficial to humans under certain circumstances, penicillin for example, others are extremely hazardous. Alfatoxins, for example, are considered one of the most potent natural cancer-causing agents known to man. Trichothecenes have been deemed so lethal, they are used in chemical warfare agents. Both types of mycotoxins are commonly found in homes and buildings that have been damaged by water. Mycotoxins have also been associated with a number of chronic conditions and complaints. Chronic fatigue syndrome, celiac disease, asthma, fibromyalgia and even Alzheimer’s disease may all be promoted by exposure to mycotoxins.

Considering the potential health implications, there are very specific measures people should consider if they believe they have been exposed to mycotoxins. They include:

  • Getting the indoor environment tested – Working with an environmental inspector to determine if mold is present in an indoor environment is an important step in mitigating the problem and potentially safeguarding health. Inspectors will generally test for mold, but it is possible to request mycotoxin testing, as well. If molds and mycotoxins are detected, mitigation work on the property will likely be required to cleanse the environment while also addressing the initial source of water damage to prevent recurrences.
  • Getting personally tested – Humans can be tested for mycotoxin exposure. A simple lab test that can be ordered by a doctor or by patients themselves in some states can determine level of exposure and the type of mycotoxin involved. If tests come back positive, working with a healthcare provider to address any related medical concerns will be in order. It will be important to trace the source of exposure and to work with an environmental inspector to remedy the mold-contaminated environment, as well.

Mycotoxins are associated with many potential health complaints from sinus and respiratory infections to more chronic and potentially life-threatening conditions. If exposure is suspected, testing can provide peace of mind while putting people on a course to mitigating contamination within their indoor environments.


About Author
RealTime Labs (RTL) is the only clinical laboratory certified by CAP and CLIA to perform mycotoxin testing on humans.  The test uses human urine and we perform an ELISA test to determine the presence or absence of 15 of the most toxic mycotoxins.



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3 Reasons Water-Damaged Buildings Demand Immediate Attention


The laboratory director of RealTime Laboratories talks about health concerns associated with water damage and mycotoxins.

Carrollton, TX, June 16, 2017 – When pipes break, roofs leak or water heaters rupture, many property owners view these concerns as pressing emergencies that demand immediate intervention. After all, fixing the source of a water leak can be critical for restoring a building or home to good working order. Once the source of a leak is fixed, some property owners may view repairing any associated water damaged areas with a reduced sense of urgency. This can be a mistake, experts say.

Dr. Dennis Hooper, laboratory director at RealTime Laboratories, stresses that water-damaged environments serve as perfect incubators for indoor mold growth. By leaving damaged organic materials, such as drywall, wood and ceiling tiles in place, people may inadvertently create a recipe for disaster.

“Water damage promotes the growth of molds that may prove toxic to humans in indoor environments,” explains Dr. Hooper. “When mold growth continues unabated, mycotoxins may be released into the environment. These toxic molecules have been strongly linked in numerous studies to a diversity of health concerns, ranging from chronic respiratory complaints to potentially life-threatening illnesses.”

Mitigating water damage immediately following a leak or rupture is strongly advised for property owners for these reasons and more:

  • Safeguarding health – Cleaning up water damage before mold even has a chance to grow is the ideal for protecting health. If mold growth is already evident, it is often best to work with an environmental inspector to ensure safe removal and restoration of the property. Getting mold out of the indoor environment is important for removing contamination concerns.
  • Preserving property – Mold allowed to grow unabated will eventually damage the integrity of organic materials, such as wood and drywall. Immediate intervention can protect property from more extensive damage.
  • Reducing costs – Addressing water damage sooner rather than later may also save property owners money in medical and repair expenses.

“Most studies on the effects of mold and mycotoxin exposure have traceable roots back to water-damaged buildings,” says Dr. Hooper. “Making all necessary repairs following a leak or rupture can protect property and health alike. If mold and mycotoxin exposure are already suspected, it may be advisable to consider a urine panel text to confirm or deny human contamination.”

If mycotoxin exposure is a concern, a simple urine panel test can provide the information patients and doctors need to act. Mycotoxin panel tests may be ordered by physicians. In some states, patients may also order test kits for laboratory testing on their own. It generally takes about 10 business days for results to come back after samples are received by a lab.

To learn more about mycotoxin testing and the danger water-damaged buildings pose, visit online.

About RealTime Laboratories Inc.
RealTime Labs (RTL) is the only clinical laboratory certified by CAP and CLIA to perform mycotoxin testing on humans.  The test uses human urine and we perform an ELISA test to determine the presence or absence of 15 of the most toxic mycotoxins.  The tests are generally ordered and given to the patient during an office visit.  To date, more than 100,000 tests have been performed and our provider base is over 2000 physicians.

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