Fungal spores common in the air we breathe daily may increase children's risk of multiple allergies, according to a study by University of Cincinnati researchers.
Infants who were exposed to basidiospores and the fungal spores penicillium/aspergillus and alternaria in the air early in life had an increased risk of developing allergies later in life. The children had an increased risk of allergy to:
- Dust and mites
- Pet dander
- Certain foods
Fungus grows by releasing reproductive cells, or spores, into the air, and mold is a type of fungus. While previous allergy studies have focused on visible mold, this study is unique in that it focused on invisible airborne spores.
Mold grows in moist environments, including wood, drywall and cement. If mold is in your home, the researchers recommended resolving any moisture issues (roof or plumbing leaks, etc.) and following the Environmental Protection Agency's guidelines for mold removal.
In addition to the development of multiple allergies, many other health conditions can also be attributed to molds and mold spores, both in children and adults.
Many research studies have confirmed that home exposure to molds can increase asthma and wheezing incidence in both children and adults.
Sadly, according to the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, asthma affects more than 4.8 million children in the United States, making it the most common serious disease among children.
And back in 2004, I reported on a research study that demonstrated that chronic sinusitis is actually an immune disorder caused by airborne fungus.
At a 2003 environmental medicine symposium in Dallas, studies of more than 1,600 patients suffering health issues related to fungal exposure were presented. These problems included muscle and joint pain, fatigue, headache, GI problems, shortness of breath, anxiety and depression, vision problems, memory loss and many more.
Some molds produce toxic substances called mycotoxins. For example, the dangerous airborne mycotoxin from a slimy black mold called Stachybotrys has been associated with numerous lawsuits and insurance claims related to toxic houses or "sick building syndrome" and associated medical problems. (Serious home mycotoxin invasion requires professional removal or remediation.)
Since molds can grow on any moist surface in your home, the high humidity of the summer season signals increased mold growth and more health problems -- for your entire family.
Along with obvious places such as shower stalls, air conditioners and damp basements, there can be many hidden sources of mold in your home. Particularly if you have had plumbing problems or leaks in your roof, mold may grow and release spores from places such as drywall, carpet or padding, even wood.
Mold spores are very difficult to destroy, even with cleaning agents such as hot water or bleach (which is itself toxic). The best way to reduce the problem is through smart preventive measures.
Hands-down, the most effective and simple overall solution to fight all the sources of mold in your home is to use a superior-quality air purifier. Unfortunately, this can be a very confusing area to discern which one might be best for you.
Because I have treated thousands of allergy patients as part of my involvement with the American Academy of Environmental Medicine, I put in a fair amount of time in researching this area. You can read more about the research at this link.