Odors produced by mold and your health

 

Most inspectors as well as people suffering with mold problems assume that spores are what make people  sick, but is it possible that mold odor alone without spores can cause health complaints such as but not limited to allergy, asthma, and more frequent colds?

 

I have done mold inspections since 2003 and have long suspected a direct and strong correlation between mold odor and building occupant health complaints. It seems that mold odor has more to do with health complaints than spore levels in many cases.

 

It is a well known fact that many manmade volatile organic compounds such as benzene, methyl ethyl ketone, acetone, and formaldehyde to name a few not only have scary names, but can have scary health effects and can contribute to indoor air quality problems such as sick building syndrome and other IAQ problems.

 

Mold odors are also made of volatile organic compounds. Volatile organic compounds produced by mold include chemicals similar to alcohols, aldehydes, amines, ketones and many more.  When volatile organic compounds are produced by mold or bacteria we stop calling them volatile organic compounds and refer to them as microbial volatile organic compounds.  (mVOCs).

 

Mold odors or mVOC’s are typically over looked as a source of health complaints by many mold inspectors who look for spores as the only source of potential health problems. Other inspectors are concerned about the health effects of toxins produced by toxic black mold. During many inspections because visible mold was not obvious and the lab report you receive states that spore levels indoors are low,  inspectors will tell you that you do not have a mold problem, and that your health problems are not related to mold in your home.  This inspector has investigated numerous cases where mold odors were produced inside AC units, behind wall paper, in crawl spaces, or inside walls in many such cases spores were trapped or simply not released by the mold and yet people became ill.

 

After years of noticing this correlation between the occurrence of mold odor and allergy and asthma like health complaints I started to find information on the internet to support these observations.  Please note that the legal and health implications are powerful, even in the lack of elevated spore levels building occupants can still become ill from mold.

 

 

Samples of indoor odor can be taken for quantitative and qualitative analysis by accredited labs using proven and advanced methods of analysis, Prism Analytical labs AKA PATI is one of the few labs that specialize in not just voc analysis but also mVOC or microbial volatile compound analysis. 

 Do not rely on my observations, also see what academic and government mold experts say about this often overlooked issue. Do a search for mold odor and health for yourself and you will see that even if spore levels are low in your home there is no guarantee that you are free of mold problems.

But do not despair, there is hope, simply never rely on spore levels and lab tests alone, always hire an experienced inspector who does much more than take samples, he or she should know something  about building construction or home inspections,  AC systems, science, indoor air quality, and industrial hygiene. The mold inspector must do a very detailed investigation using his or her knowledge and experience and should not just take a few samples. 

 A Accredited Mold Inspection Service, Inc.

 

 

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One of out clients was concerned that mold in their home may cause neurological damage, they believed that their fear was supported by info from a Florida health department website. Lets look at a few quotes from the actual website and at our response to the client below.
This is great info from the Fl Dept of Health, I am going to use some of it’s info on an upcoming report where some scammers in my industry tried to use ozone to get rid of a horrific mold problem in Boynton Beach Florida. They even claimed that their Ozone system was endorsed by the health dept and the EPA. Needless to say the health dept does not endorse ozone use and neither does the EPA. Needless to say the scammers did not get rid of the mold at all.
Re mold and neurological damage the Florida health dept info you send states that mold causes “cold-like symptoms, rashes, sinus inflammation, eye irritation and aggravation of asthma.”these are all well documented extremely common symptoms & we see them all the time, they are related to the bodies immune response / allergic reactions and other similar responses to allergenic chemicals in mold, and are related to gases (Mvoc’s) molds release. Though allergens and Mvoc’s can make people more miserable than most people realize, and though people die from various asthma attacks each year, these symptoms have nothing to do with toxins and are not though to damage nerves.
The health dept website link you sent me states “Some symptoms are more general – such as inability to concentrate or fatigue. Usually, symptoms disappear after the mold is removed.” these symptoms are more rare and controversial but are not related to neurological damage nor mold toxins either, but are thought to possibly be related to not getting deep sleep because of the above reference immune / allergy like symptoms.
So what is the difference ? Who cares? allergen -toxin – Mvoc its all the same is it not?
It is a very significant difference because if they were related to neurological damage from toxins then the symptoms you and others experience would not disappear after the mold is removed, also I would be scared to be around the stuff every day.
In conclusion according to current scientific research, legal expert research that stands up in court, and honest mold inspectors experience, it appears that mold will not likely damage your brain or nerves if you breath it in. If you eat the same very common household toxic molds or some molds that grow on grain crops toxic molds might cause neurological damage, liver cancer, birth defects, compromised immune system,  convulsions, hallucinations, burning sensations, and death. This has happened to thousands of people and animals and is well documented, but long term neurological damage from breathing in mold in the home or office is not strongly supported by the scientific community nor the legal system despite many tries. Of course their are exceptions to many rules, and who knows what future research may revealed about breathing in toxic mold as it relates to the neurological system.
The Florida Dept of Health Website info can be found at:
Our Mold inspection website can be found at: