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In Australia, we're currently suffering from torrential rain all along the east coast, affecting Queensland and New South Wales and potentially moving towards Victoria. Regardless of where you're living, unexpected water damage and mould may be a new problem for you to begin dealing with. This live stream and podcast will focus on how to deal with mould and water damage affecting paper documents. We can all imagine sodden books and libraries underwater, but I'll leave that problem for the archivists. This show segment will focus exclusively on how you can deal with mould contamination of paper documents.  To do this, I’ll review a recent paper that came out that looked at how to sterilize paper during a crisis. The authors compared two types of sterilization methods called (1) gamma sterilization which uses radiation to perform cold sterilization and (2) dry heat sterilization. Why this paper is interesting is that all of us have access to dry heat using a convection drying oven.  The scientists performed several types of tests looking at the efficiency of gamma radiation versus dry heat. They discovered that gamma radiation inactivated 100% of the test organisms, including fungi and gram-positive and gram-negative bacteria but what about the efficacy of dry heat? The scientists looked at three temperatures: 100, 150, and 200 degrees Celsius for 15, 30 or 60 minutes. They also looked at the impact of two different sterilization techniques on the structural integrity of the paper using scanning electron microscopy. When we focus only on fungi, (because bacteria are easier to kill)  it was shown that a conservative temperature of 100 degrees Celsius for 15 minutes achieved a 97.1% inactivation. This also had the lowest comparative impact on the paper structure.  Obviously, other methods of water damage restoration indoors such as increasing ventilation to provide additional air circulation or the use of a dehumidifier are also valuable methods of dealing with water damage.  The take-home message from this paper is that a convection oven can effectively disinfect and nearly sterilize water-damaged papers using a conservative time and temperature of 100 degrees Celcius for 15minutes.  I hope this information helps any persons dealing with mould contamination of paper documents. REFERENCES: Alshammari, F.H., Hussein, HA.A. Sterilization of paper during crisis. AMB Expr 12, 13 (2022).
Many people ask me the question: can you really get sick from spending time inside a water-damaged property? Or another related question: Does mould really make people sick? Sometimes I even get questions along the lines of: I can understand why people might not like the smell of mould or even its visual presence, but surely, a little bit of mould can't hurt you? If you've ever been part of these conversations, and want definitive proof that mould can in fact, cause serious problems for occupants then this live stream and podcast is for you. A paper came out at the end of 2021 in the Journal of Hygiene and Infection Control, discussing the situation for a family of five, who developed severe health problems after spending six years inside a water damaged home.  Your first reaction might be: why did they stay six years? For many people, this is unavoidable and for this family, it was because it was a new home construction.  They battled on trying the get the builder to fix the problems. This case study deep dives into something called building-related illness and explores its relationship with sick building syndrome. The paper is important because it includes an evaluation of the home from an Occupational Hygiene viewpoint as well as the Environmental Medicine perspective. This case study highlights many of the building-specific factors that contributed to water damage and mould as well as the complaint pattern and medical symptoms that were experienced by the children, the mother and the father.  The outcome of this case study revealed that until the family changed their place of residence unwanted health complaints persisted. But once they left the father's health symptoms improved after two weeks. The three children took six months to recover and the mother's symptoms went away after 18 months. This paper highlights that long term exposure to mould was the cause of building-related illness. Use this paper to support your position especially if you're ever needing to prove the health hazards from mould inside buildingsREFERENCE: Kramer A, Wichelhaus TA, Kempf V, Hogardt M, Zacharowski K. Building-related illness (BRI) in all family members caused by mold infestation after dampness damage of the building. GMS Hyg Infect Control. 2021 Dec 7;16:Doc32. doi: 10.3205/dgkh000403. PMID: 34956824; PMCID: PMC8662741.
I'm often asked whether mould affects children's health? I thought this would be an appropriate topic to kick off the new year for The Mould Show in 2022. In approaching this topic, I'm going to review some of the key symptoms associated with exposure to mould and then provide you with an easy visual guide that you can use to not only remember the typical mould symptoms but the causes and effects but that may be helpful when describing indoor air quality issues in your home or workplace.We all know that unexpected weather increasingly contributes to mould problems indoors in addition to water leaks and home dilapidation problems. In turn, most of us understand that moulds grow on wet surfaces and release their spores into the air.  It’s important to remember that mycotoxin levels inside water-damaged buildings are sometimes 1000-fold higher than the mould count. It's also known that 50% of fungal growth can be hidden and is missed by mould testing according to the EPA.  Find out what the key research papers say about mould and your child's health?REFERENCES:Campbell AW, Watson P. Mold, Mycotoxins, and their Effects in Children. Altern Ther Health Med. 2021 Jan;27(1):8-10. PMID: 33609089.Campbell AW, Decena K. The Brain and Mycotoxins. Altern Ther Health Med. 2020 Nov;26(6):8-11. PMID: 33609092.Campbell AW. Molds and Mycotoxins: A Brief Review. Altern Ther Health Med. 2016 Jul;22(4):8-11. PMID: 27548484.Theoharides TC. Mold and Immunity. Clin Ther. 2018 Jun;40(6):882-884. doi: 10.1016/j.clinthera.2018.05.005. Epub 2018 May 30. PMID: 29859636.Spengler JD, Jaakkola JJ, Parise H, Katsnelson BA, Privalova LI, Kosheleva AA. Housing characteristics and children's respiratory health in the Russian Federation. Am J Public Health. 2004 Apr;94(4):657-62. doi: 10.2105/ajph.94.4.657. PMID: 15054021; PMCID: PMC1448314.Jedrychowski W, Maugeri U, Perera F, Stigter L, Jankowski J, Butscher M, Mroz E, Flak E, Skarupa A, Sowa A. Cognitive function of 6-year old children exposed to mold-contaminated homes in early postnatal period. Prospective birth cohort study in Poland. Physiol Behav. 2011 Oct 24;104(5):989-95. doi: 10.1016/j.physbeh.2011.06.019. Epub 2011 Jul 8. PMID: 21763705; PMCID: PMC3758954.Szumilas M. Explaining odds ratios [published correction appears in J Can Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry. 2015 Winter;24(1):58]. J Can Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry. 2010;19(3):227-229.Wong CT, Wais J, Crawford DA. Prenatal exposure to common environmental factors affects brain lipids and increases risk of developing autism spectrum disorders. Eur J Neurosci. 2015 Nov;42(10):2742-60. doi: 10.1111/ejn.13028. Epub 2015 Sep 19. PMID: 26215319.
When you think about the over 5M fungal species that exist on the planet and juxtapose this against the approximate 2000 mushrooms species we might eat as food - there really are a lot of chance and probable possibilities for us to come into contact with these microorganisms in our everyday lives. This new paper that came out from the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory is quite an eye-opener because it looked at how fungal communities inside 1135 homes in the United States is connected with something called the Infection Fatality Ratio (IFR) which describes the number of deaths caused by COVID-19 per 1000 coronavirus infections. Their research showed that an increased fungal diversity especially for specific Species of indoor fungi versus outdoor fungi (Beta diversity) was associated with a reduced infection fatality ratio.  In their paper, they looked at whether there was a correlation between certain Species of fungi and adverse outcomes from COVID? And amazingly they found that “yes” there is! They found that something called the beta diversity assessed from a comparison between fungal spore types collected outdoors and then inside the home living environment was of fundamental importance. The key result is that: high diversity of outdoor fungi when also present indoors is associated with a suppression effect for COVID-19 mortality.This means that collecting spore trap measurements from the outdoors and indoors is very important for predicting adverse events like mortality from COVID-19 and emphasizes the importance of the environment on human illness.  Now it’s not just the raw numbers of fungi, but the overlap of which types are present outdoors and also found indoors which defines different aspects of Species richness and diversity. The research showed that at least four of the following seven fungal genera have a key role in suppressing coronavirus infections. These were: Alternaria, Aspergillus, Epicoccum, Eurotium, Toxicocladosporium and Wallemia as well as a novel Mycosphaerellaceae fungus.  You could argue that simply airing out your property will naturally bring fresh outdoor air containing mould spores indoors. So, wouldn’t that automatically select for the correct beta diversity ratio that’s better for your health?  On the surface, you'd be right to conclude this. However, I've personally done 1000s of indoor air quality inspections over the years and many homes have hidden mould problems that contribute to poor indoor air quality.  This is often caused by water damage and dampness and in most of these cases, there is a skewed distribution of fungi indoors that’s very different to the outdoors.  This publication is extremely important because it shows a correlation effect between bioaerosol counts especially mould spores and respiratory disease outcomes. The key takeaway here is that COVID-19 mortality is suppressed inside homes where the outdoor fungi occur indoors at very similar levels. When the skewness or difference between the outdoor: indoor diversity changes, or when the indoor fungi are significantly different to the outdoors, then COVID-19 mortality increases. These researchers found that fungal beta diversity was a much stronger correlate for adverse COVID-19 outcome as age.  For example, older persons have worse COVID-19 outcomes, and this paper says that fungal beta diversity in the wrong direction is also bad for your health.   The authors stress the method is unlikely to be restricted only to coronavirus but could extend to surveillance of other allergic and viral diseases. This research, therefore, underscores the importance of fungal biosurveillance in the built environment to improve public health outcomes.  REFERENCE:doi:
This week on The Mould Show, I'm going to be talking about censorship of mould illness. And to do this, we’ll be reviewing a paper that came out earlier this year that focused on the situation in Finland. Essentially, this is a battle between free democracy and socialism and the impact that politics has on contemporary scientific thinking and the dissemination of applied science into the wider community. So, what's this all about? Well, most of us understand the connection between bad indoor air quality and water damage and how this can impact our health. However, I'm always amazed when people try to negate this connection between environmental exposure and illness or outright deny the scientific facts. This is very perplexing because on the one hand, when the mainstream media is considering carbon credits, or net-zero, they seem to have no trouble linking the slightest change in the environment with some type of consequence to someone somewhere. In certain socialist, corporatist European countries like Finland, mould related illness has become highly politicized. And today we're going to be reviewing a paper put out by Professor Tamara Tuuminen in May/June 2021.  She is a very courageous scientist and doctor who discusses the fact that even though the epidemiological literature shows an overwhelming consensus that mould induces a multi-organ symptomology way beyond just the sniffles - that many government and corporate institutions in her country of Finland deny this link. She discusses the Government Department of Health and Welfare as well as the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health as two of the key institutions that aim to deny mould as a real environmental illness. Her paper discusses how this is achieved using corporatist special interest groups and educational bodies who often position themselves as independent opinion leaders. In many cases, they are far from unbiased and can demonstrate corruption by not disclosing hidden conflicts of interest or selectively quoting only those academic works of literature that support the government or corporate agenda. In the Livestream, I'm going to present evidence as far back as 1964 showing that this approach is patently false, and any non-brainwashed person can easily verify these facts for themselves.  DYOR and it quite easy then to connect environmental illnesses connected with mould and the many very real physiological problems that can ensue.   I'll also discuss how the Finnish attempt to use mindfulness exercises and referrals to psychologists or psychiatrists, instead of addressing the fundamental problem of indoor air quality and building damage.  Contemporary, mainstream narrative protocols instead blame the person for the sickness and from a clinical perspective, attempt to retrain the patient’s brain to remove the stressful situation. I hope you'll join with me and watch the live stream or download the podcast which touches on multiple areas of contemporary #FollowTheScience and #Censorship of science and how this has become politicized.  I’ll conclude with some recommendations that you can follow to minimize this bias to get at the ground truth and let the science help rather than hurt you.REFERENCES:Tuuminen T. Dampness and Mold Hypersensitivity Syndrome, or Mold-related Illness, Has Become Highly Politicized and Downplayed in Finland. Altern Ther Health Med. 2021 May;27(3):59-64. PMID: 33882029.
In this presentation, I want to review something called salt therapy, which is considered a complementary method for the treatment of respiratory tract illnesses. This will have a special focus on mould related disease.  Clinical practice referrals my Company receives revolve around exposure to indoor air dampness and mould, usually in the home. When this is prolonged, it can cause problems including: vocal cords irritation, rhinitis, cough, wheezing and recurrent infections of the upper and lower respiratory tract. Breathing in bioaerosols might also make existing asthma worse or bring on new asthma in children or adults. Many of the client and patient referrals we receive complain that their doctor does not truly understand their symptoms or may even consider some of these to be psychosomatic. Apart from focussing on fixing the building, what can you do to ‘get well’ if you’re mould affected?  To this end, an important paper recently came out in the Journal: Alternative Therapies in June 2021.  Salt therapy is put forward as a treatment for mould related illness. But what is it and why does it work?Salt therapy has developed into a holistic complementary therapy available in day spa-like environments based on observations made by a 19th century Polish doctor, Feliks Boczkowski.  He noticed that salt mine workers had far fewer skin and respiratory health symptoms compared with other mine workers. Later during World War II in Germany, people who sheltered during bombing in salt caves were observed to experience relief from respiratory problems. Salt therapy exploits or mimics the microclimate of natural salt caves. People who spend time in these caves are take advantage of what is called Spleotherapy in the literature. This involves inhaling pure sodium chloride, NaCl along with other aerosolized elements including magnesium and calcium. A different version termed Halotherapy allows people to experience the benefits of salt therapy by spending time in a room that has salt coated walls and floor. Halotherapy may also use a generator (termed a halogenerator) to produce fine sodium chloride aerosols (1-5-micron diameter) which are aerosolized in the ‘salt room’.  The salt easily penetrates into all parts of the respiratory tract and has antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. Salt particles also promote ciliary transport in the lung, allowing mucus plugs to be coughed up and it also reduces IgE inflammatory levels. Doctors have used salt therapy in the treatment of allergic rhinitis, asthma, COPD, bronchitis for cystic fibrosis and for viral bronchiolitis. There is even research support linking the use of salting of face masks to neutralize the SARS-CoV-2 virus in an effort to combat COVID-19.  Salt therapy is known to be 100% natural and it's generally safe because it improves the clearance of particulates from the lung, often provides relief from coughing and reduces bronchial inflammation.  It’s easily experienced by spending time in a salt room (30-60 min. sessions) repeated 10 to 20 times.  If your home might be mouldy, then consider salt your new ally for health promotion.REFERENCES: Wasik AA, Tuuminen T. Salt Therapy as a Complementary Method for the Treatment of Respiratory Tract Diseases, With a Focus on Mold-Related Illness. Altern Ther Health Med. 2021 Oct;27(S1):223-239. PMID: 34726628.
Black fungus disease can have a devastating impact for people who contract COVID 19 and even for those who are recovering from COVID-19 and who are more properly classed as COVID long haulers.  My purpose in presenting this live stream is really to bring about awareness to every person about the potential impact of black fungus and explore some of the reasons why everyone should be aware of post-COVID infection co-infection with black fungi. It is my hope that this live stream prevents unnecessary illness, infection and even death.  So, what are the common types of black fungus and why is this connected with COVID? To answer this question, I need to focus on two of the most common fungi that are implicated in mucormycosis and they are from the Genus that includes Rhizopus sp. and Mucor sp. These are typically fast-growing fungi that produce copious spores. The problem is that these black coloured fungi in the immunocompromised hosts such as those recovering from COVID can utilize the iron in blood as a food source. It must be remembered that the pre-COVID infectious period includes the one to two weeks prior to symptoms. The next month is the acute phase of COVID infection. And after five weeks, this is the post-COVID-19 period.  Those admitted to hospital are commonly offered steroid medications. These steroids like dexamethasone work by dampening down the body's immune system, but at the same time they also increase the levels of iron in the blood, which the black fungi use as a food source. Although dexamethasone does work and is a relatively inexpensive medication, it is a problem for treatment, especially when this has become widespread due to the fact that although it produces an anti-inflammatory effect, this property is at the same time, immunosuppressive in action. These mean this steroid has two contrasting properties as a treatment.  There are many ways in which black fungus can enter the body. Depending on where it enters, this determines the impact of the severity of the fungal infection.  So, what is the takeaway from this particular livestream? Number one, it's very important that you know whether or not you are at risk. Just because you've recovered from COVID 19 does not mean that your body is capable of neutralizing invading pathogens like the black fungi. Everyone should be mindful of the fact the indoor living environment has an effect on your overall health and predisposition to infection. Therefore, inadequate hygiene, high humidity, and water damaged materials can cause an already compromised immune system to become susceptible to various diseases.  REFERENCES: Pushparaj K, Kuchi Bhotla H, Arumugam VA, Pappusamy M, Easwaran M, Liu WC, Issara U, Rengasamy KRR, Meyyazhagan A, Balasubramanian B. Mucormycosis (black fungus) ensuing COVID-19 and comorbidity meets - Magnifying global pandemic grieve and catastrophe begins. Sci Total Environ. 2022 Jan 20;805:150355. doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2021.150355. Epub 2021 Sep 16. PMID: 34818767; PMCID: PMC8443313. Lukács, G., Papp, T., Nyilasi, I., Nagy, E., & Vágvölgyi, C. (2004). Differentiation of Rhizomucor species on the basis of their different sensitivities to lovastatin. Journal of clinical microbiology, 42(11), 5400–5402. Zupančič, J., Novak Babič, M., Zalar, P., & Gunde-Cimerman, N. (2016). The Black Yeast Exophiala dermatitidis and Other Selected Opportunistic Human Fungal Pathogens Spread from Dishwashers to Kitchens. PloS one, 11(2), e0148166.  Air Quality and Mould Inspection Report: Nauru Regional Processing Centre.
Studies have shown that people are healthier, more comfortable and more productive in structures with good indoor air quality (IAQ). Be that as it may, I've had a first-hand experience as an indoor air quality and mould inspection expert not only about the huge impact of moulds and water damage on people’s property but also the emotional distress these things can cause them. According to studies, there exists a huge relationship between emotional wellbeing and particulate matter pollution, and a very strong numerical relationship between mould spore counts, the presence of water damage, including hidden mould, and measures of particulate matter in the PM 2.5 and PM 10 size range. And as the concentration of PM 2.5 particles in the air increases, levels of happiness decrease. As the concentration of PM 2.5 pollutants increases, levels of tiredness, stress and sadness all increase. Read the blog here: RM, Das K, Fan Y, Barkjohn KK, Botchwey N, Ramaswami A, Russell AG. Connecting Air Quality with Emotional Well-Being and Neighborhood Infrastructure in a US City. Environ Health Insights. 2020 May 3;14:1178630220915488. doi: 10.1177/1178630220915488. PMID: 32425542; PMCID: PMC7218333.Li M, Ferreira S, Smith TA, Zhang X. Air pollution and noncognitive traits among Chinese adolescents. Health Econ. 2021 Feb;30(2):478-488. doi: 10.1002/hec.4193. Epub 2020 Nov 16. PMID: 33197091Song Y, Zhou A, Zhang M. Exploring the effect of subjective air pollution on happiness in China. Environ Sci Pollut Res Int. 2020 Dec;27(34):43299-43311. doi: 10.1007/s11356-020-10255-8. Epub 2020 Jul 31. PMID: 32737779.
Hot water or cold water, detergent or the latest green-cleaning additive.  What does the literature say?  If you want to reduce germs, how best to wash?  That's the 3-minute topic today!
Prevention, they say, is better than cure. And that forms the basis of preventive medicine, a proactive approach aimed at getting ahead of the potential causes of diseases by promoting healthy behaviours and screening for diseases with the aim to keep people from becoming sick in the first place rather than treating diseases when they eventually occur. In this week on The Mould Show, I dive into the emerging social media, audio-only platform called Clubhouse.  Here you'll find a large range of healthcare, wellness, and medicine focussed groups (as well as many others) that are relevant to biotoxin illness. After listening in, making some rooms, creating a club or two, and talking into these rooms, I'm reviewing some of the key takeaways around the future of healthcare.   Synopsis: Disease and disability are affected by environmental factors, genetic predisposition, disease agents, and lifestyle choices and are dynamic processes which begin before individuals realize they are affected.Read more on the blog here:
Do you know that the most humid parts of the world are Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia; Jakarta, Indonesia; and Singapore, all in South and Southeast Asia as well as Darwin in Australia? This underscores the need to maintain an indoor living environment that is free of mould because of the huge challenges of living in a humid climate. Although mould poses a great risk, especially to those living in humid climates, there are still some practical control measures that can be adopted to stop the growth of mould or reduce its impact. They include the control of moisture, nutrients and temperature. Find out more on the blog:
Mast Cell Activation Syndrome (MCAS) is a very serious, often overlooked condition. About one in four people with the disease cannot work or participate in normal day-to-day activities. It is a disease that affects people of all ages or gender, but one funny thing about it is that it is often unrecognized and possibly remains undiagnosed in many cases.MCAS is a group of diseases involving the immune system. When the triggers occur, antigens are raised inside the body, which might result in itchiness, for example. But this also leads to a histamine cascade, which causes contraction of the respiratory vessels. Then blood vessels dilate and result in gastric acid secretion. Many people with MCAS can have very serious life-threatening reactions such as anaphylaxis. Typical symptoms include itching, headaches, brain fog, fatigue, heart palpitations, hives, shortness of breath, gastrointestinal problems, wheezing, low blood pressure, anxiety and, very typically, a flushing or a swelling, which appears on the face or body.  According to the American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology, Mast Cell Activation Syndrome is a condition in which the patient experiences repeated episodes of the symptoms of anaphylaxis – allergic symptoms such as hives, swelling, low blood pressure, difficulty breathing and severe diarrhea. High levels of mast cell mediators are released during those episodes. For these reasons, it is therefore important that you are very much aware of the top seven underlying factors that can contribute to Mast Cell Activation Syndrome and avoid them completely so you can live a healthier, happier life. REFERENCES:Kritas SK, Gallenga CE, D Ovidio C, Ronconi G, Caraffa Al, Toniato E, Lauritano D, Conti P. Impact of mold on mast cell-cytokine immune response. J Biol Regul Homeost Agents. 2018 Jul-Aug;32(4):763-768. PMID: 30043558.Reed CE. Inflammatory effect of environmental proteases on airway mucosa. Curr Allergy Asthma Rep. 2007 Sep;7(5):368-74. doi: 10.1007/s11882-007-0056-5. PMID: 17697646.O'Hara, Beth. Mast Cell 360 Guide: 7 Root Causes in Mast cell Activation Syndrome.
According to statistics, about 90 percent of our time is spent indoors. The number could be much higher in recent times due to COVID-19 which has caused many governments around the world to impose lockdowns and forced people, including children, to stay home in order to avoid contracting the virus and halt its spread.But more worrisome is the fact that these kids are also exposed to other dangers – like the threat from airborne allergen exposure in their early lives.The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology defines an allergen as a usually harmless substance capable of triggering a response that starts in the immune system and results in an allergic reaction, like sneezing or itching. For instance, if you have an allergy to pollen, your immune system identifies pollen as an invader or allergen.  But the reaction event can turn serious and also be overlooked. How then does the indoor living environment affect children? A recent study in environmental medicine from the University of California's Institute of Integrative Immunology looked at early life exposure, including prenatal exposure and how this can be linked to behavioural changes, growth delay and neuroimmune complications; and made some startling revelations. The researchers found that children exposed to allergens, including water damage, and mould in the womb for up to two years may display growth delay, allergic rhinitis, asthma, allergic dermatitis, motor problems and speech delay whereas when older children – that is those between the ages of two and five – are exposed to mould and water-damaged environments, they display symptoms, including allergic rhinitis, motor problems, behavioural problems and speech delay. Did you see the elephant in the room?  All the children were experiencing seizures!  This symptom is a lot worse than just a runny nose isn’t it? The doctors presented three case studies and the children involved all showed positive allergy tests to the following four fungi: Alternaria, Penicillium, Aspergillus fumigatus, and Rhizopus. They, therefore, concluded the following. That:The developing immune system can show an aggressive response to environmental danger signals. As a result of prolonged cytokine release caused by an allergic response, seizures and behavioural instability can occur.Indoor environmental triggers like mould, mycotoxins, dust mites and other particulates can lead to a skewed neuroimmune response. The solution by the doctors, especially to reduce immune activation and control the appearance of seizures, was in all cases to, firstly, identify if children were living in unhealthy households during the mother's pregnancy and during early life, and then determine if they were sensitized to mould. If the home inspection or assessment revealed allergen conditions like mould or water damage, then the doctor could recommend relocation to a mould-free home, an action known as mould avoidance.So, the main point here, even as scary as it is, is that epileptic seizures and other abnormal behavioural problems were simply the result of mould exposure. When in doubt, get it tested.You should also now know that indoor air quality is not restricted to allergy and asthma problems alone. It could have more far-reaching consequences. It then behoves you as parents with young children, pregnant mothers and their partners, grandparents, childcare workers, property managers and landlords as well as integrative medical doctors and allied healthcare practitioners to take more drastic measures aimed at protecting these children from allergen exposure at their very early age, even in the midst of the pandemic.REFERENCES:
I received an email the other day from a client with bad news informing me that his wife has breast cancer.  He told me that she had suffered from depression ever since reluctantly moving into a property that had a severe water damage problem and that had been concealed by the real estate agent.  This got me thinking about all the research talking about mould exposure and mood disorders like anxiety and depression and even IQ.In this week’s Livestream, I’m going to review 6 key areas where mental health problems can occur due to mould and water damage:1. Families that know about mould and water damage2. Disaster recovery workers 3. The elderly4. Children and pre-adolescents5. The immune system.  What’s going on inside your body?6. TenancyIs depression the hidden epidemic often not spoken about when discussing building-specific factors surrounding mould and adverse indoor air quality from aeroallergens and other microbes?REFERENCES:Literature review of current research on health effects and accepted guidelines for the management of indoor mould and water damage in the built environment. (2013). ACNEM Journal. 32(3): 10 - 16.Neuropsychological performance of patients following mold exposure. - PubMed - NCBI neurological significance of abnormal natural killer cell activity in chronic toxigenic mold exposures. - PubMed - NCBI mold exposure associated with neurobehavioral and pulmonary impairment: a preliminary report. - PubMed - NCBI, neuropsychological, and electrocortical effects of mixed mold exposure. - PubMed - NCBI impairment associated with toxigenic fungal exposure: a replication and extension of previous findings. - PubMed - NCBI to improve children's health by improving the housing environment. - PubMed - NCBI and mold in the home and depression: an examination of mold-related illness and perceived control of one's home as possible depression pathways. - PubMed - NCBI of life of patients with asthma related to damp and moldy work environments. - PubMed - NCBI factors and behavioural problems in children: the GINIplus and LISAplus birth cohort studies. - PubMed - NCBI exposures and health effects among US Coast Guard responders to Hurricanes Katrina and Rita: a cross-sectional study. - PubMed - NCBI Relationship of Built Environment to Health-Related Behaviors and Health Outcomes in Elderly Community Residents in a Middle Income Country. - PubMed - NCBI built environment and mental health. - PubMed - NCBI dampness and health amongst British Bengalis in East London. - PubMed - NCBI and mold in the home and depression: an examination of mold-related illness and perceived control of one's home as possible depression pathw... - PubMed - NCBI validity of the environmental neurotoxic effects oftoxigenic molds and mycotoxins (2007). of births in schizophrenia and bipolar disorder: a review of the literature. (1997
Science is all about observation and forming hypotheses to answer questions. For scientists like myself, I’m interested in how the environment affects health, and specifically, how water-damaged buildings and exposure to poor indoor air quality can affect quality of life. For this week on The Mould Show, we're going to be talking about fungal mycotoxins and myalgic encephalomyelitis termed ME for short and chronic fatigue syndrome  (ME/CFS). The reason I've chosen this topic is that I've met a family whom I've now done three separate mould inspections for.  Why this is unusual is that the symptoms experienced by the female occupant and her daughter are classic ME/CFS symptoms.  Across all 3 of the different properties hidden mould problems were discovered.  That information in itself was useful for this family and helped them to break their lease due to the fact that there was verified mould present. However, that's not the point of this podcast and even the positive mould confirmation as an environmental trigger didn’t help the mother and daughter from understanding why they reacted so strongly when indoors. They thought they were going crazy, since how could 3 different properties cause them so much trouble? They couldn’t understand why some buildings caused no issues, and the 3 they’d chosen to rent all set them off?This has bothered me all year.  I know mould is a huge issue for some people – but what exactly might be going on for THIS family?A very interesting article on Substack focuses on his experience with chronic pain and ME/CFS and how after 25 years of suffering, he discovered by chance, following a recommendation from a friend to read a book that talked about the connection between ME and chronic fatigue syndrome and mitochondrial dysfunction. So that is the true focus of the topic today. • Could exposure to fungal mycotoxins be the reason why they were tired and experiencing pain?  • Could this be the reason you’re tired? Is this another aspect to environmental illness?• And could this be classified as Myalgic Encephalomyelitis or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME/CFS)? • Are there any patient-specific tests to verify ME/CFS or mould exposure and what can be done to alleviate the symptoms?  Firstly, let's define what ME/CFS is. There are three core symptoms + at least one or more other symptoms which include: 1. an inability to participate in routine activities that would have been possible before becoming ill and that lasts for greater than six months. 2. the fatigue which is also a primary symptom tends to worsen after physical, mental or emotional effort. 3. and does not resolve after sleep, termed ‘unrefreshing sleep’. Other problems include:a) an inability to concentrate or memory impairment and/or b) something called orthostatic intolerance. This means that when people stand up, they feel lightheaded or dizzy and can even faint. The family that moved into those three different properties all complained that after a few days of occupying the mould-contaminated building the wife especially experienced episodes of unexpected fainting and collapsing into her husband's arms. Those 3 inspections coupled with reading the Substack article led me to investigate further whether there was any published literature, focusing on exposure to fungal cells or their mycotoxins in the ME/CFS literature. Very recently a publication appeared in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health that has looked at exactly this topic. These scientists looked at the levels of Aspergillus toxins like aflatoxin, ochratoxin, and gliotoxin in the urine of 236 ME/CFS patients who had a known exposure to mould from water-damaged buildings. The evidence from two types of urine mycotoxin testing from Real-Time
This week on The Mould Show we're going to be looking at the gut microbiome and in particular some emerging research that is showing that the diversity of microorganisms found in the gut may be linked to different immune responses and may even affect the pathogenesis of conditions like multiple sclerosis, MS. I'll be reviewing two of the dominant papers in the MS literature around gut microflora and looking at this concept of species diversity. In these papers the scientists looked at the number of different microorganisms between healthy controls and MS patients. Multiple sclerosis is a neuroinflammatory autoimmune disease known to affect two and a half million people worldwide with most patients experiencing what is termed relapsing-remitting Multiple Sclerosis which as the name suggests shows periods of stasis punctuated with symptoms but overwhelmingly moves towards more frequent symptoms as the disease progresses. There are currently no known treatments for MS. However, there is an abundant literature showing that healthy lifestyle factors such as no current smoking, a healthy diet regular exercise and maintaining a low body mass index all help reduce symptoms. The two papers we're looking at today ask the question: Are there some fungi that can be measured in the gut that are correlated with MS and healthy controls? Essentially, what is the role that microbiology plays in MS?. These two papers strongly suggest that bacterial and fungal diversity is indeed connected and can differentiate healthy controls from MS patients. This research is exciting because it offers the opportunity not only for individualized testing as a risk predictor, but also the opportunity for individualized dietary modifications to be made to change the composition of the gut microflora. Both papers determined that fungi like Candida, Epicoccum, Malassezia and Saccharomyces all seem to show statistical relationships that could be a value to predict or at least classify individuals into different risk categories. Interestingly, when we drill into the literature and look at the species diversity for Saccharomyces which is a typical yeast found in breads and grains there is another set of literature that has looked at the gut microbiota and the day 28-day mortality for critically ill patients admitted to hospital. Of course, many of the underlying reasons for hospital admission includes chronic lung disease, chronic heart disease, immunosuppression, active cancer and acute kidney injury. Nevertheless, when sampling was performed, they found clear evidence that species diversity in the gut was predictive for which patients survived versus those that died? So, what to make of these facts? Well, there is an opportunity to look at what readily available compounds might be used nutritionally or therapeutically, to mitigate, delay, or reverse these diseases? One of the compounds being actively researched is called Astaxanthin and is commonly found in shellfish and lobsters and green micro algae. It’s been shown to not only possess anti-microbial or antibiotic type activity but there is emerging research it can be used for a range of neurodegenerative diseases, including stroke, multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer’s and even conditions like chronic fatigue syndrome. This research into use of astaxanthin suggests that even if it cannot be used as a topical anti-microbial (due to high dosage), it may exert its beneficial effect by altering the composition of the gut microflora at lower dosage. Other elegant research has looked at how astaxanthin has been able to protect the myelin sheath in Multiple Sclerosis models in rats. This research strongly suggests that astaxanthin exerts its effect because they help reduce inflammation and oxidative stress. We can only hope that more research into the therapeutic effects of natural compounds like astaxanthin may lead towards wide-spread use of targeted dietary modifications.  
Imagine that at your workplace - you move to new offices and these offices are sited partially below ground level. Within three months of moving into the new offices, every person who works there has started to suffer from symptoms that consistent with exposure to a water damage buildings and are reacting to the microbes and moulds that are commonly found in these environments.   When the symptoms became unbearable, the office staff started looking for answers. This week on The Mould Show, I'm going to be reviewing the research results that carefully examined each of those office workers to work out two things:  Firstly, was the building contributing something toxic that the workers were being exposed to? And secondly, how could this be best measured by the medical doctors who were involved? This publication looks at whether or not immunosuppression and adverse events can be measured. And if so, how does one go about doing this? This publication appeared on the 21st of January 2022 in the Journal of Fungi: Toxic Indoor Air Is a Potential Risk of Causing Immuno Suppression and Morbidity-A Pilot Study.  What the scientists did was examine both the patient (that is the occupants of the workplace), and they also looked at the building to see what type of toxins and microbes could be detected. The purpose of the research was how to prove causality between the symptoms experienced by the workers and exposure to the toxic indoor air. But the scientists weren't satisfied with just using microbiological technique to measure for mould, because it's well recognized that even though these tests are very sensitive and accurate to measure mould spore levels in the air - they can often miss the breakdown fragments of microbes that grow on water damaged buildings. And therefore, this very exciting research from Finland has implemented a new method to assess toxicity indoors, which looks at collecting condensed indoor air water vapour and test that.  Now what does this mean?  Well, essentially, they have devised and patented a method of rapidly collecting water vapor out of the air but again, how did they do this? The Finnish scientists used three toxicity test methods to see how the indoor air might be compromised. The first one was to use THP-1 macrophages.  We cover the other two cell, lines in the podcast.But what about all those people who are working in water damaged building interiors? We know if they're being exposed to particulate matter, like mould spores and cell fragments, from typical indoor air quality tests like spore traps, bio tape lifts or direct microbiology from the air or surfaces onto Petri plates.  But many of the mycotoxins can also be measured in urine? Thanks to this breaking research, there are other, new biomarkers like mycophenolic acid – which is tested from the water vapour indoors. In turn, what do you think the contribution is to adverse health from mycophenolic acid exposure? The Finnish data shows that mycophenolic acid reduces immune function and the other types of in vitro tests showed that macrophages activity is reduced and that mitochondrial activity is increased, but also that bore sperm motility is interfered with. Vaali K, Tuomela M, Mannerström M, Heinonen T, Tuuminen T. Toxic Indoor Air Is a Potential Risk of Causing Immuno Suppression and Morbidity-A Pilot Study. J Fungi (Basel). 2022 Jan 21;8(2):104. doi: 10.3390/jof8020104. PMID: 35205859; PMCID: PMC8877819.
If you're dealing with water damage building interiors, or just wondering what is the best way to clean textiles and clothing that might have become mould contaminated - you might be thinking, why can't I just put them all into the washing machine? Your next question might be: is there something I can do to the washing cycle that will help reduce the population of any germs that might be on those textiles? The answer is yes, there is an optimal way of washing your clothing to remove specific germs like classes of fungi that cause skin and nail infections. These fungi are termed dermatophytes and are superficial fungal infections that colonize the skin, hair or nails. This group of fungi thrive in moist areas of the skin and are easily transferred to clothing and towels and they are also found in soil. The statistics around dermatophytes report that 20 to 25% of the world's population is currently infected with a dermatophyte fungus. A paper that was published in late May 2022, looked at whether you could freeze material contaminated with dermatophyte fungi, or heat them up in a laundromat or domestic dryer, or whether it was best to wash them – and if so, what’s the best way to reduce the viability of these dermatophytes? This is an interesting question because although dermatophyte fungi are specific causative agents of skin, hair and nail infections they nevertheless represent a class of fungi that if we understand how they respond to the washing cycle - then this could extend to other types of fungi found in the home, on the floor, or on porous personal items of personal property that might benefit from being washed. So the central question of this live stream is: hot cycle versus cold cycle versus heat drying versus freezing - which is better? To answer this question, I'm going to summarize the key findings of a paper that came out in the Journal of Fungi which looked at how to test between these different treatments. What the scientists did was deliberately contaminate gauze pads with three of the most common fungi that affect humans (Trichophyton tonsurans, Trichophyton rubrum and Trichophyton interdigitale). We know the effects of these fungi when they attack feet and other moist skin areas and cause, for example, Athlete's Foot. We should also respect the fact that these fungi are easily transmitted. Think – of contact with infected individuals or even skin contact with inanimate objects like flooring. And so what the scientists did was they deliberately infected small gauze pads and then cleaned them in different ways. The. They looked at the recovery rate for the dermatophyte fungi. Successful cleaning meant there were no fungi recovered. The first treatment looked at how temperature and cleaning time impacted on fungal recovery. The next question for the washing machine method was whether adding detergent helps? Another cleaning method looked at whether freezing the textile gauze pad could kill the fungi? The results are compelling:•Low temperature washing for example, at 40 degrees Celsius for 100 minutes with or without detergent did not reduce the viability of Trichophyton fungi. •Increasing the temperature to either 60 degrees Celsius or 90 degrees Celsius for either 100 minutes or 150 minutes resulted in the loss of viability for Trichophyton fungi. •The higher temperature was effective with or without detergent. •Unfortunately, heat drying the contaminated material in either a domestic machine or a laundromat machine for anywhere from 10 minutes to 150 minutes, did not reduce the population viability of Trichophyton fungi. •And somewhat counter-intuitively, it was not possible to freeze the fungus and cause it to stop growing even if freezing was carried out for one day, two days, or even seven days – the persistent viability of the Trichophyton fungi was preserved. The take-home message, therefore, was that domestic washing machines with or without detergent are hig
Common health concerns from mould include: asthma, allergic rhinitis, wheeze, cough, shortness of breath, or hypersensitivity pneumonitis, headache, eye and skin problems and other health issues.  It is reasonably well known, at least by the integrative health community, that exposure to moulds and other fungi is correlated with a range of allergic and pulmonary diseases in susceptible individuals. Allergy is often tested using antigen extracts. The paper we're discussing today shows that the available antigen extracts are not well matched to the types of fungi that are commonly found indoors. Allergic sensitization is measured in vivo by something called the skin prick or intradermal testing method or by serological testing against a panel. Fungal antigens are therefore used to determine reaction and it is an important clinical diagnostic that supports environmental inspections. It is also known that environmental remediation is correlated with improved outcomes of hypersensitivity pneumonitis and asthma. But linking these conditions with buildings relies on either the environmental inspection or the clinician being able to prove the allergy using fungal antigens. This important paper shows that the actual spore counts in the air reveal exactly which fungi are most likely to induce allergy. The research reviewed nearly 25,000 indoor air samples from over 7,500 mould affected or complaint homes and compared them against nearly 30,000 outdoor air samples. It was found that the Penicillium fungus was the dominant Genus in water damaged homes and was more common than Aspergillus. Overall five important Penicillium Genus fungi and three Aspergillus Genus species were identified as the predominant indoor water damage related fungi. Notably, none of the Penicillium species and only one of the Aspergillus species have a clinical antigen extract available for skin testing or serum testing. The conclusions show variously that commercial production of additional antigen extracts are required and that air spore count measures are fundamentally important to determine risk level of the indoor air versus the outdoor air. So, what is healthy air versus unhealthy air? The researchers review the recommendations put forward by the American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA) who state that higher indoor versus outdoor mould levels, determined using either viable Petri plate culture or spore trap air sampling should be considered as unhealthy. This new research also introduces a new quantitative minimum threshold risk level: Where the combined concentration level of Penicillium/Aspergillus fungi in the indoor air is greater than 200 colony forming units per cubic meter of air (CFU/m3) higher than in the outdoor air. This may be an appropriate evidence-based benchmark.This research concludes by stating that the accuracy of clinical detection of mould sensitivity can be significantly improved by (1) adding new antigen extracts for the predominant species of Penicillium and Aspergillus commonly identified in damp and mould affected homes and that (2) this will lead to improved outcomes for individuals who suffer from mould related conditions so that (3) timely environmental interventions such as (4) patient relocation and or (5) mould remediation when required can be implemented as a (5) critical component of disease management to improve the outcomes of asthma and hypersensitivity pneumonitis in the built environment.REFERENCE:Misalignment between Clinical Mold Antigen Extracts and Airborne Molds Found in Water-Damaged Homes. William M Sothern, Sarah L O'Beirne, Michael Berg, Daniel Devine, Nasrin Khandaker, Christopher Mikrut, and Robert J KanerPublished online: November 17, 2021as DOI:
Summer is approaching, at least for us here in Australia and for some of us, looking down at our toes might bring on a "yuck" reaction. Why are those nails cracked, fragile or showing discoloration? Are you embarrassed by this? What's causing it? How do I stop it?  Is this a sign of something worse?That's the topic of this week's show. And importantly, we're going to be talking about how the health of your toenails and even the health of the nails on your fingers can be used as an indicator of overall health. To do this, we're going to go through some of the most common questions around nail fungus including symptoms and which groups of people are most likely to get fungal nail infections? What are the terms about this microbial infection and what are the typical fungi that cause this? We'll also talk about some of the environmental hazards for foot fungus as well as how it's diagnosed at the lab and then move on to how you can prevent fungal nail infections and discuss some of the treatments from the research literature. With this foundation we'll then move on to the central topic of today's presentation, which is looking at the association between foot and nail fungus and COVID 19 clinical outcomes and we'll be discussing what the scientists discovered and why it's very important to deal with fungal nail infections because they do have an impact on the clinical outcomes of respiratory illnesses like COVID-19. REFERENCES:Rakita U, Kaundinya T, Guraya A, Nelson K, Maner B, Manjunath J, Schwartzman G, Lane B, Silverberg JI. Associations between onychomycosis and COVID-19 clinical outcomes: a retrospective cohort study from a US metropolitan center. Arch Dermatol Res. 2021 Nov 12. doi: 10.1007/s00403-021-02299-8. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 34773138. B. E. (1998). Onychomycosis: pathogenesis, diagnosis, and management. Clinical microbiology reviews, 11(3), 415–429. P, Aspiroz C, Rezusta A, Gilaberte Y. Usefulness of Photodynamic Therapy in the Management of Onychomycosis. Actas Dermosifiliogr. 2015 Dec;106(10):795-805. English, Spanish. doi: 10.1016/ Epub 2015 Oct 1. PMID: 26427737.
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