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.