How Do I Know I Am Mold Sensitized? What Can I Do?
One of the core problems experienced by mold sensitized individuals is the lack of awareness that mold is making them sick.
The purpose of this article is to answer the following questions:
- Is mold really a problem in Calgary and area?
- How do I know if mold is making me sick?
- If I am diagnosed with mold sickness, what can I do?
Is mold really a problem in Calgary and area?
On July 25th, a NOLA.com staff reporter, Jed Lipinski, wrote an article that asked the following question: Did a moldy building kill 4 New Orleans college professors?. According to Lipinski, the potential cause of the deaths of four professors was caused by mold. All four professors worked in a building contaminated with stachybotrys for about 5 years and Lipinski theorizes that mold hastened their deaths.
Just like Calgary that experienced significant flooding in 2013, New Orleans was hit with extensive flooding in 2005 when Hurricane Katrina hit. Ten years later, stories of mold are still emerging. Will mold be a problem in Calgary? Likely! Considering the experiences of other flood stricken communities (Sandy and Katrina), then one of the long term problems that Calgarians will face is mold for one critical reason: mold only needs 24 to 48 hours to grow. Simply put, if your property was flooded and not properly cleaned and dried by a professional, then you could have mold issues. Where there is moisture there will always be mold and anyone that thinks that the clean up crews ensured that all property was completely dried out before any rebuild occurred is likely not being very realistic.
Another key problem with mold is that you may have mold in your home and not even know it. Most mold is hidden, and this is why so many people sick from mold never know why. Common hiding places for mold include the inside of drywall, behind improperly installed showers, in leaking roofs, and in crawl spaces with poor circulation.
What does this mean for Calgary and area residents? It means that there will be mold issues and where there is mold, there is usually sickness. Unfortunately, most health professionals are not able to diagnose mold sickness because of a lack of training and the end result is their patients suffer.
How do I know if mold is making me sick?
Earlier this year, Wonder Makers Environmental, a company based in Michigan, launched a website, www.moldsensitized.com with the mission of educating consumers, contractors, and health professionals on the health concerns caused by mold. The website’s goal is to be the ultimate resource of mold information and contains many articles written by the CEO, Michael Pinto.
Since launching the website, several mold sensitized individuals have been interviewed and many lessons can be learned from these interviews.
- In general, there is a lack of appreciation amongst the medical community of the impact that mold can have on certain individuals.
- The symptoms from mold sickness are broad, leading to multiple mis-diagnosis of patients by many doctors.
- It is quite common for mold sensitized individuals to seek help from multiple medical practitioners and still not get healthy.
- Eventually, the individual learns that mold has been the cause of the sickness.
- Mold sensitized individuals frequently are forced to seek alternative shelters because traditional remediation approaches are not adequate to address their sensitivities, even assuming that the current standard of care is followed.
According to the MOLDY documentary released earlier this year, 28 percent of the population have genes that make them highly susceptible to mold-related health issues. Putting this into perspective, and based on the population of Calgary and metro areas, this means that in Calgary there are approximately 336,000 individuals that are potentially susceptible to mold illness.
According to Dr. Richie Shoemaker, a physician and expert in the field of biotoxin-related illness and author of the book Surviving Mold, the most common condition associated with mold illness is Chronic Inflammatory Syndrome.
What Is Chronic Inflammatory Syndrome?
Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome (CIRS), also known as Sick Building Syndrome (SBS), is a combination of illnesses or aliments that are in direct relation with an individual’s place of work or home environment:
An acute and chronic, systemic inflammatory response syndrome acquired following exposure to the interior environment of a water-damaged building with resident toxigenic organisms, including, but not limited to fungi, bacteria, actinomycetes and mycobacteria as well as inflammagens such as endotoxins, beta glucans, hemolysins, proteinases, mannans, c-type lectins and possibly spirocyclic drimanes, plus volatile ogranic compounds.
The term Sick Building Syndrome was first coined by the World Health Organization in the 1980s and it is believed that it is caused by poor air quality caused by water damage.
According to Shoemaker:
This illness happens after exposure to the interior environment of a Water-Damaged Building (WDB). There are many ways buildings become home to a toxic mix of microbes, fragments of microbes, and harmful chemicals. Buildings can host fungi, bacteria, mycobacteria, and actinomycetes as a result of construction defects like inappropriate ventilation; faulty construction of crawl spaces or inadequate building design; flat roofs or fake stucco cladding without adequate caulking; incomplete basements exposed to saturated ground water conditions; or not correcting water leaks.
According to Shoemaker, 25% of the population has a genetic pre-disposition to CIRS; women tend to report more symptoms than men:
Genes made them prime targets for an assault by their own innate immune systems….exposure to the interior environment of a Water-Damaged Building (WDB), [causes] an innate immune response that is going haywire.
Individuals exposed to the toxins in a water damaged building suffer from chronic illness because their bodies are trying to eliminate the foreign substances that stay in the body resulting in chronic inflammation and multiple symptoms. In fact, one of the reasons that it is so difficult to diagnose CIRS is due to the fact that there are 37 symptoms: fatigue; weakness; aches; muscle cramps; unusual pain; ice pick pain; headache; light sensitivity; red eyes; blurred vision; tearing; sinus problems; cough; shortness of breath; abdominal pain; diarrhea; joint pain; morning stiffness; memory issues; focus/concentration issues; word recollection issues; decreased learning of new knowledge; confusion; disorientation; skin sensitivity; mood swings; appetite swings; sweats (especially night sweats); temperature regulation or dysregulation problems; excessive thirst; increased urination; static shocks; numbness; tingling; vertigo; metallic taste; and tremors.
Because of the large number of symptoms and different combinations that a patient can have, CIRS is difficult to diagnose.
If you have been suffering from ill-health for an extended period of time and the treatments that you are prescribed do not seem to help, then here are some recommended action steps.
- Listen to your body. If you are feeling sick and despite under-going multiple treatments still continue to feel sick, then do not give up on trying to find out what the cause is.
- Research mold sickness. The website, www.moldsensitized.com, has a significant amount of information on mold and it’s impact on health and is constantly updating the site with new information on its blog. In particular, you may want to read these articles:
Medical Evidence that Connects Mold Exposure to Illness Keeps Piling Up
Do People Really Get Sick From a Little Mold in Their House?
What is Stachybotrys Mold?
The Mystery of Mycotoxins in Mold Contamination
The WHO on Mold
TOP 10 Questions and Answers About Water-Damaged Buildings
- Review the experiences of mold survivors to gain greater insight into mold sickness. One of the primary reasons you want to do this is so that you will have some further evidence that you can take to your preferred medical practitioner.
- Continue to educate yourself. Because of the lack of knowledge in the mainstream medical community, you need to take a lead role in determining whether mold is making you sick.
- Finally, if after all your research, you think that mold is the problem, then verify the existence of mold in your home by investing in a mold inspection and air quality test.
If I am diagnosed with mold sickness, what can I do?
If you suspect that you are sick because of mold, then the next step is to find a Doctor that has knowledge about mold sickness. To find listing of environmental doctors throughout the world, click here. In Canada, you may want to visit these links to find out more information about environmental Doctors:
- Environmental Health Institute of Canada
- Canadian Society for Environmental Medicine
- Environmental Health Association of Alberta. Note, their links page lists the other health associations throughout Canada.
Once you are diagnosed, there are two distinct parts to your recovery.
First, there is the medical treatment which is designed to detox your body and allow your immune system to regain its strength. The detox strategy will be prescribed by your physician who will likely recommend that you remove yourself from the property that has been making you sick until it can be made safe again for occupation.
Second, is the process of remediating your home and ensuring that you can move back in without experiencing further sickness symptoms. In the past, many mold sensitized individuals have been forced to abandon their primary residences even after remediation because contractors did not understand the Big Picture of how the remediation and cleaning activities have to be coordinated with the medical and building maintenance aspects of the project.
With this in mind, if you want to invest into remediation of your home, we recommend that you hire a contractor that has invested in the remediation for sensitized individuals training. MSZ Restoration is pleased to announce that our team are one of the first Calgary contractors in Alberta that have committed to getting this training and will be offering this service as soon as we complete the training in October. Once we have completed the training we will offer mold sensitized individuals these five key benefits:
- Commitment to completing the job correctly the first time, with the understanding that our goal is provide you with a safe place to live or work because our team knows that our work practices can impact your health.
- Clear understanding that the environmental portion of projects with sensitized individuals has many facets (i.e., source removal, content cleaning, HVAC decontamination, whole structure cleaning, building performance improvements, etc.) and will provide services only in those areas where they are qualified.
- Clear understanding that your project requires procedures that are more protective than the current standard of care for the mold remediation industry.
- Commitment to specific project endpoints that have been designed for sensitized individuals (endpoints that incorporate the latest health/science data).
- Long term cost savings, peace of mind, and less anxiety because we will be familiar with situations like yours and the most effective techniques for this stringent remediation.
MSZ Restoration is here to help and committed to serving mold sensitized individuals. If you suspect that mold is making you sick, call us, 1-403-978-7978 or contact us for further assistance. Our goal is to help you live a healthier and happy life. Most importantly, we truly empathize with your situation and are committed to helping you.
— MSZ Restoration (@mszrestoration) August 3, 2015