I was recently surprised in several situations where consumers were told that dead mold is okay because it does not cause adverse health symptoms. The fact that dead mold, toxins, and mold by-products can cause adverse symptoms is not a new concept. It was certainly included in all of the beginner mold training classes that I attended more than fifteen years ago. Also, in 2001, EPA published information on the adverse health symptoms that can be caused by dead mold (Mold Remediation in Schools and Commercial Buildings).
Overhearing this kind of information relayed to a customer at “big box” store where the associate told a consumer that killing mold with a certain product was all that was needed to remediate a moldy attic caused me cringe. Listening to a remediator argue this point with a homeowner who was sick after a botched remediation job made my blood boil. Consumers look to professionals to guide them. Mis-information is not only unethical, it can cause serious health problems.
Allergic type reactions from dead mold, mold spores, fragments of molds, and mold metabolites (toxins, volatile organic compounds) has been widely accepted in the medical field for decades. Some of the health effects from mold, whether it is dead or alive, include:
- Irritant reactions, such as itchy eyes, sore throats, and rashes
- Suppression of the immune system
- Inflammatory responses that affect the liver, kidneys, and other organs
- Multiple chemical sensitivities
- Chronic fatigue
- Brain fog
The ability for dead mold, mold fragments, and mold metabolites to cause adverse health symptoms is one of the primary reasons that mold remediation standards of care from EPA, OSHA, the Institute of Inspection, Cleaning, and Restoration Certification require containment barriers, engineer controls, and HEPA vacuuming when moldy building materials are disturbed.