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.
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.