Published March 25 2013
When I discuss the factors which can have a negative impact on one’s thyroid health, the more common factors I bring up are diet, stress, and environmental toxins. I focus on diet and stress to a greater extent, although one shouldn’t dismiss the potential health risks of environmental toxins. And when talking about such toxins, one shouldn’t ignore the effect that mold can have on thyroid health, and on our overall health as well.
How is mold toxic to your health? Well, the mold itself isn’t toxic, as what happens is that some molds will produce mycotoxins, and as the name implies, these can be toxic to your health. They release these toxins into the air, and while sometimes a “musty” odor will be present, this isn’t always the case. The problem with mold is that many people don’t realize it’s affecting their health until they develop certain symptoms. And even then they frequently won’t make the connection, as they might not realize that it’s the mold which is responsible for their health issue. Sometimes people will develop mild allergies to mold, while other times exposure to mold will lead to more serious conditions.
In fact, mold will impact the immune system, and while I’m not sure if being exposed to mold can trigger an autoimmune response, since the mycotoxins can have a harsh effect on the immune system it definitely is something that needs to be addressed. So I think it’s safe to say that most autoimmune thyroid conditions such as Graves’ Disease and Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis are not caused by exposure to mold. However, some studies show that mold exposure does initiate an inflammatory process (1), and this in turn can potentially lead to the development of an autoimmune condition. And one study I came across showed that Asperigillus has been associated with hypothyroidism and Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis (2).
Symptoms of Mold Toxicity
So what are some of the symptoms of a “mold toxicity problem”? This depends on the person, plus the type of mold. Certain molds are more dangerous than others, and thus will lead to more serious health issues when compared to other types of molds. I’m not going to discuss in detail the different types of mold here, but some of them include Asperigillus, Botrytis, Penicillium (where penicillin comes from), Fusarium, Stachybotrys, and Candida Albicans. Molds such as Stachybotrys chartarum can be very harmful to one’s health. And many people are familiar with Candida Albicans.
Some of the more serious symptoms of mold exposure include breathing difficulties, dizziness, memory problems, and acid reflux. Other symptoms include headaches, digestive problems, fatigue, muscle and joint pain. They can compromise the immune system, and can even cause permanent issues such as brain damage, although this is rare.
As for where you can find molds, they are commonly found in moist areas. As a result, the bathroom is a common place where you can find mold. If you have a basement then this is also a common place where molds grow. However, other areas in your home can have mold as well. Having a leak in your home can lead to the development of mold if it’s not properly addressed. So for example, you might not think a small leak in the roof is a big deal, and so you might just ignore the water stain and figure you’ll address it later. However, besides the vanity aspect and the risk that the damage to the roof will worsen over time, you also need to consider the formation of molds due to this.
How Do You Test For A “Mold Toxicity Problem?”
If you suspect that you may have a problem with mold, then in order to see if there is a problem with mold in your home, you probably will want to hire a certified indoor air testing company. They will be able to perform the proper tests to see if you have a problem with mold, and if remediation is necessary they should also retest once this is done to make sure the mold has been taken care of.
As for determining if someone is allergic to specific molds, the lab Genova Diagnostics has a test called the “IgE Molds Profile”, which is a blood test that measures the different types of molds. This includes Aspergillus fumigatus, Candida albicans, Fusarium moniliforme, Penicillium notatum, Stemphylium botryosum, and other common molds.
How Can You Get Rid Of Mold?
It can be very difficult to eliminate the mold from your home. Sometimes the mold is so bad and is having such a detrimental effect on one’s health that the best solution is to move out of one’s home. This obviously is an extreme action to take, but in some cases it may be necessary. When moving out of your home isn’t feasible, here are a few things you can do to try removing the mold:
1. Eliminate the source of the mold. This of course seems obvious, but many people will just clean their bathtub and other areas where mold is obvious. But frequently this isn’t enough, as you might have get rid of the carpets in your house as well. Speaking of which, molds grow in the carpets when they remain moist for a prolonged period of time, and so if you wash your carpets on your own then you want to thoroughly dry them with a vacuum. The problem is that your vacuum might not be powerful enough, and so it might just be best to hire someone professionally to clean your carpets. I personally think it’s best to just get rid of the carpets whenever possible, as they have other toxins in addition to mold. But I realize this isn’t always practical.
2. Get an air purifier. Purchasing a good quality HEPA air purifier can help. However, doing this alone probably won’t be sufficient, as you really do need to try addressing the cause of the mold.
3. Hire someone who has experience getting rid of mold. As I mentioned earlier, it really is a good idea to contact a certified indoor air testing company, who most likely will have a certified mold inspector. They deal with these situations all of the time, and they also will be able to do the proper testing to make sure they have gotten rid of all the mold.
Some sources suggest that getting an ozone generator can help with the mold. Although the ozone from such a generator can kill the mold, before using a generator you will need to remove most of the moisture for it to be effective. Once again, I recommend not doing this on your own and hiring an expert.
In summary, mold can lead to mild allergies in some people, and serious health issues in others. So if you have a mold problem then you want to get it addressed, and in some cases when the mold is causing serious health issues might want to even consider moving. But before taking such an extreme action I would first hire a certified mold inspector, as they will be able to determine if you have a problem with mold, and if you do, they should tell you if it can effectively be eliminated.