Molds produce allergens (substances that can cause allergic reactions), irritants, and in some cases, potentially toxic substances (mycotoxins). Inhaling or touching mold or mold spores may cause allergic reactions in sensitive individuals. Allergic reaction symptoms commonly reported include hay fever-type symptoms, such as sneezing, runny noses, eye irritation, congestion, also aggravation of asthma, headaches, dizziness, fatigue and skin rash (dermatitis). They can be immediate or delayed. In addition, mold exposure can irritate the eyes, skin, nose, throat, and lungs of both mold-allergic and non-allergic people. Symptoms other than the allergic and irritant types are not commonly reported as a result of inhaling mold.
A variety of symptoms have been credited to the toxic effects of diverse molds. The medical symptoms may be caused by toxic gases produced by the molds or by reactions to the mold particles themselves. Many allergies are also attributable to mold spores and fungi.
Some severe symptoms may include severe headaches, reports of profusely bloody runny noses, coughing up of blood, fibrous growth in the lungs and in one reported instance, cognitive dysfunction and loss of memory.
In Texas, a mold expert investigating a case of water damage and mold damage underestimated the danger involved. The expert found himself throwing up for hours after spending just 30 minutes in the house. He has since suffered a severe hearing loss in one ear from his short exposure to the mold.
In the Cleveland area in 1993 and 1994, a doctor attributed 37 cases of pulmonary hemorrhage and hemosiderosis in which twelve infants died caused by Stachybotrys.
The CDC does recognize that moldy homes are unhealthy for human occupancy. Other reports claim to confirm the linkage of Stachybotrys to instances of infant deaths in other locations.
Research on mold and health effects is ongoing. For more detailed information consult a health professional. You may also wish to consult your state or local health department.
The conclusion we reach from all of these dramatic cases is that molds cannot be ignored and are potentially very dangerous. All molds growing within your indoor living environment should be removed.