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The Mould Show

Author: Dr Cameron Jones

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This podcast will help you take control of your indoor air quality at home or at the office. Learn how to reduce your exposure to mould toxins especially after water damage as well as minimise harm caused by other environmental pollutants. Your host, Dr Cameron Jones, PhD is a recognised authority on mould in the built environment and a widely published academic and public health advocate. The Mould Show brings you practical information, expert interviews and research breakthroughs you can use each week.
64 Episodes
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
Allergens are all around us. It seems like a fairly straightforward concept, though how they find their way to us can be extremely surprising. Take for example, animal allergens. If you learned that your child had a dog allergy, what steps would you take to avoid issues for them?The most common response to this would likely be some variation of not having a pet dog and limiting visits to places where dogs live. After all, kids spend most of their time at school or at home so you may think there is little risk of exposure in these controlled environments.This is, however, not the case. Studies have found that children will be exposed to dog and cat allergens just by attending school. During a 1998 study conducted in a Swedish school it was discovered that allergens were present on the clothes worn by all pet owning students. Despite preventative measures we may take against them, allergens still find a way to infiltrate places we believe are safe.Allergens are definitely a bit more complex than we may give them credit for. That is because allergens truly are everywhere. But, what exactly is an allergen?Typically, an allergen is either a protein or a glycoprotein. The most common of these can be found in pollen, fungus, dust-mites, and animal material. When these enter your body, either through inhaling or ingesting them, they trigger an immune response. This immune response is what causes common allergic reactions like coughing and sneezing, as well as more serious reactions like anaphylaxis.As you know, however, there are far more allergies than the ones listed above. Bugs like cockroaches are a massive cause of allergens, many people have severe reactions to bee stings, and medications that can save one person’s life may kill another who takes it. It is truly fascinating how something so simple can cause such a wide array of reactions in different subjects. To summarize, there is no truly effective way to outrun allergens. They are a part of our world and will always be there. Luckily, through medical science advances we have devised a number of ways to manage and deal with their effects as we continue our research on the topic.REFERENCES:Lei, D. and Grammer, L., 2019. An overview of allergens. Allergy and Asthma Proceedings, 40(6), pp.362-365., M., Munir, A. and Dreborg, S., 1998. Concentrations of cat (Fel d 1), dog (Can f 1) and mite (Der f 1 and Der p 1) allergens in the clothing and school environment of Swedish schoolchildren with and without pets at home. Pediatric Allergy and Immunology, 9(1), pp.25-30. Vrieze, J., 2020. Suspicions Grow That Nanoparticles In Pfizer’S COVID-19 Vaccine Trigger Rare Allergic Reactions. [online] Science | AAAS. Available at: <> [Accessed 21 December 2020].
COVID-19 has reshaped how we think about public health and the practical steps we take every day to keep ourselves safe and healthy. Today more than ever, we share a heightened responsibility surrounding our environmental hygiene, as well as the potential harm that poor cleaning habits can cause.  Something we encounter every day is dust. It’s synonymous with being untidy, old, and causing us to sneeze. But perhaps in our post-COVID world, we will see dust a little differently. Dust is an organic material, a combination of microbial vegetable or animal materials. Often, household dust is comprised of skin cells from human inhabitants and pets. As it is biological, dust can contain viruses, bacteria, fungi, algae, insects, mites, and even antibiotics. Moreover, dust contributes to bioaerosols, which when disturbed, become airborne and can cause respiratory issues. This forms part of the background bioburden to the home and the subsequent risks from exposure. The most common allergic reaction to dust is sneezing, however, this can develop into a condition called allergic rhinitis. This is an inflammatory disease of the nasal mucosa and can cause further nasal congestion as well as itchiness or irritation, as well as redness of the eyes and inflammation and discharge from the nose. Allergic rhinitis is one of the most common atopic diseases, and depending on where you live, affects between 10% and 60% of the population. Of these cases, the most common cause is from household dust allergens. Allergic rhinitis caused by dust can lead to workday losses in adults and school day losses and learning disabilities in children. People who suffer from allergic rhinitis report feeling tired and can also report feeling miserable because of their nasal symptoms.So, what steps can we all take?A great method to combat dust is to use microfiber cloths rather than cotton or other woven-style cleaning materials. Microfiber works so well because it has a high density of cleaning strands, with the increased surface area offering a better level of cleaning. Additionally, disposable wipes are a great way to get dust under control. Some contain alcohol, detergents, antimicrobial solutions or are simply damp. They work through a combination of both physically moving material, as well as the added effect of any detergent of alcohol within the wipe. Even with the addition of a cleaning solution, there is still a risk of cross-contamination from using the same wipe on multiple surfaces, therefore it is vital to adhere to the ‘one wipe, one surface’ rule. Thirdly, it is important to understand that fungal contamination of buildings is known to be worse in winter while the overall levels of bacteria tend to decrease. Therefore, cleaning of surfaces that potentially become water prone, or show condensation, should be cleaned more frequently during winter.  The fourth important point is that research suggests that where you live has an impact on your experience of allergic symptoms. For example, if you live in an urban area, your risk of allergic rhinitis is four times higher compared to those who live in rural areas, and your asthma risk is eight times higher, primarily due to traffic air pollution. If you find you’re a prevalent sneezer, and you can’t escape to the countryside, then pay close attention to hard-to clean areas like the tops of pictures or mirrors on walls, the tops of doorframes, the tops of shelving. Consider testing these areas with tape lifts if you want an objective measure of the settled dust bioburden.Finally, it’s worth knowing that microfibers containing sporicidal disinfectants and detergent is more effective at reducing microbes that remain on surfaces in comparison to microfiber towels that are just made damp with water and used to clean. Many gym or workout towels are made of microfibre, but may
Bathtime wouldn’t be the same without a rubber duck. For children, and maybe some adults too, the main attraction of a scrub in the tub is the chance to play with rubber or plastic bath toys, watching them bob amongst the bubbles and submerge amongst the suds. But beneath the cheery exterior of bright wide eyes and chirpy beak exists a hidden danger - one that could make you or your children very unwell.The best way to investigate this is to chop them open (sorry, ducky), revealing the microbial growths that manifest inside. The initial findings are startling, showing a significant build-up of dark, murky slime, known as a biofilm. Biofilms are, in fact, a whole host of different microorganisms, including bacteria, fungi and moulds, that stick to each other and form a slimy substance to help them survive and multiply.  What’s shocking is that this is not just a one-off or a particularly old toy. Research found that 70% of bath toys contained the same black, slimy biofilm, and it could potentially be very harmful.So, why does this biofilm grow inside of bath toys? One reason is the materials used. Plastic polymers leach biodegradable plasticizers and stabilizers which are used as a food source by microbes, giving them the fuel they need to multiply. On top of this, a combination of microbes from the building’s plumbing as well as additional nutrients and microbial contamination from the person bathing promotes microbial growth and biofilm formation inside the toys. All of these factors combine to create an environment in which the biofilm can survive and grow. As unpleasant as biofilm sounds, the harm it can cause someone is even more severe. Because of the variety of microbes within the biofilm, there exists a range of dangers it can pose.Pseudomonas aeruginosa, one of the microbes found in the biofilm, can cause inflammation and sepsis as well as urinary tract, skin and gastrointestinal infections. Exophiala, also known as Black Yeast, can cause skin infections and is particularly dangerous to those who suffer from cystic fibrosisEnterococcus faecalis, rather unpleasantly, is found in faeces. They can colonize the intestines and can cause fever, chills, urinary tract infections, gastrointestinal upset and meningitis. Of course, environmental exposure to these microbes is very normal, but the danger lies in coming into contact with them in high concentration or ingesting them.One of the best ways to keep bath times fun, yet safe, is to disinfect toys. However, disinfecting toys once will not prevent microbes from returning and growing again. It is still worth being vigilant, and maintaining a routine of drying the toys after use, boiling them, and then using a disinfectant product on them will help to ensure they stay clean and safe. Additionally, closing up any holes with a glue gun will stop any moisture from getting inside.
Pathogen. Germ. Bug. Infection. Virus. Plague. Today, more than ever, it seems like we are constantly surrounded by an invisible world of hidden dangers. These words are synonymous with our times, but we are not the first generation who have had to contend with a dangerous pathogen. So, what is a pathogen, and how has history shaped the relationship between them and humans?  2020 has brought there lens of infection into the spotlight, but is our collective experience of COVID-19 any different to pandemics and infections that have happened throughout history.  Find out this week and read more at the blog:, F., van Dorp, L. Q&A: What are pathogens, and what have they done to and for us?. BMC Biol 15, 91 (2017)., E.; Ceremuga, M.; Niemcewicz, M.; Bijak, M. Dangerous Pathogens as a Potential Problem for Public Health. Medicina 2020, 56, 591. auris: A Drug-resistant Germ That Spreads in Healthcare Facilities | Candida auris | Fungal Diseases | CDC. (2020). Retrieved 16 November 2020, from of Health | Chapter 8: Infection control. (2020). Retrieved 16 November 2020, from Anthrax-Laced Letters Terrorized the Nation. (2020). Retrieved 16 November 2020, from
“It's often said that a bad day with coffee is better than a good day without.” A fair statement, no? If you asked any of the drinkers of the 2.25 billion cups of coffee drunk daily, they’d probably all give you a similar answer. Some research suggests that coffee may even have some positive health benefits. But this uniquity of caffeine consumption raises some serious questions about the damaging effects our coffee habits are having on the planet.By 2050, up to 50% of the land currently used for growing coffee will be lost to climate change. As we see a global increase in wild weather along with fluctuating temperatures and rainfall, the types of fungal infections affecting coffee plants will change leading to an increase in mycotoxin production, which is capable of causing a range of diseases.  This week, find out all about the fungal coffee threat and what you can do about it.REFERENCES:Adhikari M, Isaac EL, Paterson RRM, Maslin MA. A Review of Potential Impacts of Climate Change on Coffee Cultivation and Mycotoxigenic Fungi. Microorganisms. 2020;8(10):1625. Published 2020 Oct 21. doi:10.3390/microorganisms8101625Rosario Ortolá, Adrián Carballo-Casla, Esther García-Esquinas, Esther Lopez-Garcia, José R Banegas, Fernando Rodríguez-Artalejo, Health Decline Is Associated with Reports of No Coffee Consumption Years After Reporting Coffee Consumption Among Older Adults in Spain, The Journal of Nutrition, Volume 150, Issue 7, July 2020, Pages 1916–1923,
When we see mould on our food our immediate reaction is to throw it away. To us, it is an indication that the food has turned bad, and we assume that food would not taste the same because fermentation has started. Along with this, we begin to question the texture, aroma and appearance of the food.However, we sometimes see mould as a delicious component of some of our favourite indulgences.Mould is, of course, responsible for the speckles within blue cheese and its characteristic saltiness and sharpness. It is caused by the cultivation of various Penicillium moulds.Mould can be seriously harmful to us, especially to those who suffer from an allergy to it, so is there a heightened risk from eating blue cheese?So, what causes the body to react to an allergy?Read more on the blog:
We all know about the devastating effects that change in our climate will cause, from melting ice caps, rising sea levels and more extreme weather. But there is another risk too, and one that could potentially affect all of us in the way we build and look after our homes, and how we try to save the ones at risk.One of the consequences of climate change that we are already seeing, and bearing witness to its effects, is changes in our weather. Namely, we are experiencing warmer and wetter winters along with warmer and drier summers. Amidst the plethora of changes this will cause, scientists are concerned about an increase in the severity of microbiological attacks of exposed timbers. This means that any type of wood used in construction could be more at risk to decay from mould and wood-rot fungi.READ MORE HERE: use something called the Scheffer Climate Index to monitor temperature and rain variables, which can be used to indicate how preferable the conditions are for harmful mould and fungi to take effect. A recent study found that in the UK the value on the Scheffer index is likely to increase due to climate change, meaning that there is a greater risk of timber being attacked by a variety of organisms such as with decay-causing fungi and moulds creating a major source of economic loss, and potentially damaging some of our most valuable and historic buildings.One of the immediate ways in which we are going to have to address this issue is in the higher maintenance costs. Damaged wood is not only unsightly, but it can result in the structural integrity of a building becoming compromised, so replacing or treating any damaged timbers before they get to that point is crucial.Moreover, some of our most historic buildings, for which wood was a primary construction material, will require additional maintenance and care to ensure that future generations can enjoy them. Specialist care may be required owing to the age of the timbers, and their susceptibility to being water damaged irreparably.But it is not just old buildings that need to be taken into account. It is estimated that the average newly-built American new home contains 22 fully grown pine trees worth of timber within them. Across the world, timber is still one of the primary materials used in house construction, which fuels the ever-increasing rates of forest destruction, further harming the climate and raising the Scheffer index. It’s a vicious cycle and one that will take immense amounts of change and oversight to overcome.One of the immediate things we can do is increase the scrutiny on building designs, making sure they are future proof and take into account using durable and responsibly sourced timber, while also increasing research on effective and appropriate wood protection strategies, including wood treatments or wood modifications. So, what do you need to look out for in your own home? Some of the telltale signs are:1. Sagging of ceiling linings 2. Corrosion of fixings 3. Uneven floor surfaces 4. Mould or fungi5. Musty smells 6. Swollen materials such as skirtings and architraves 7. Staining or discolouration of materials or surfaces 8. Staining and rotting of carpets, or rusting of carpet fixings. It is vital to maintain potential problematic areas, especially timber, and this can only be done by knowing what to look out for, testing and inspecting. Specialist microbiologists can be brought in to assess fungal decay of framing timbers and truss. This can be used to prove whether or not there is a health risk posed by the fungi that colonize water damaged timbers in addition to the potential for wood rot decay.
Sometimes, it seems like the hardest thing in the world to do is to get to sleep. Be it struggling to drift off, tossing and turning in the early hours or waking up too early and not being able to get any more shuteye - it’s something we’ve all had to deal with at one point or another.George Clooney blames his insomnia on a racing mind, helped only by going to sleep with the TV on, whilst Lady Gaga’s fibromyalgia and PTSD are both conditions known to negatively affect a person’s sleep. On the other hand, Rihanna’s reported ‘3 to 4 hours of sleep’ is self-inflicted, with the popstar admitting to binge-watching TV late at night. A 2016 Centre for Disease Control report concluded that sleep problems, including insomnia,  sharply increases the risk of heart attacks, cancer, and obesity. Moreover, insomniacs are far more likely to suffer from mental health issues like depression as well as being linked to all major psychological disorders.But could mould be meddling with your sleep, and potentially causing you serious health concerns?One study set out to investigate whether exposure to dampness and mould could induce sleep disturbances, and their findings suggest that it could be far more common than you think.The researchers gave 11,318, adults in northern Europe a postal questionnaire and followed them up between 1990 and 2010, recording their sleep anomalies and any potential problems. The scientists defined a sleep problem being prevalent if it occurred three times a week. They found that the four most commonly reported types of sleep disturbances were: difficulty getting to sleep, difficulty staying asleep, early morning awakening and general insomnia symptoms like snoring, and excessive daytime sleepiness.They also recorded information on respiratory health and home and work environments, to see if there was any correlation between the participants’ exposure to mould and their sleep problems.The results found that floor dampness, visible mould and mould odour would all contribute to the four major sleep problems. Within the study, one in three of the subjects developed insomnia, over the 10-year period, one-quarter of the subjects suffered from interrupted sleep and 15% of them starting snoring.One of the primary causes of dampness in the home and subsequent mould growth is floor dampness from concrete flooring. This arises during the construction of new homes when the flooring is undergoing the curing process. Emissions of toxic chemicals from waterlogged concrete has been linked to asthma. The report concludes its findings, saying: “the observed association between damp and mouldy buildings and the onset of sleep disturbances is a novel finding.” and emphasizes the importance of reducing indoor dampness and mould at home, to reduce the risk of impaired sleep quality, and any potential health consequences. So, does this mean that your sleep problems are down to mould in your house? The science is still fresh, and there is plenty more for researchers to investigate, but the results of this study indicate that it could be a possibility. Or perhaps you’re like Rihanna, and simply enjoy a little bit too much late-night TV.REFERENCES:Wang J, Janson C, Lindberg E, Holm M, Gislason T, Benediktsdóttir B, Johannessen A, Schlünssen V, Jogi R, Franklin KA, Norbäck D. Dampness and mold at home and at work and onset of insomnia symptoms, snoring and excessive daytime sleepiness. Environ Int. 2020 Jun;139:105691. doi: 10.1016/j.envint.2020.105691. Epub 2020 Apr 6. PMID: 32272294
What is that mould smell, and is it worth $5m?We all know the smell. That damp, pungent aroma that lingers in the air, it can be earthy, meaty and musty, like sodden socks or rotten wood. The odour has connotations of decrepit squalor, yet it is something we’ve all had to deal with at one point or another, so, just what is that smell, and is it worth a $5million lawsuit? Megan Fox, actress and model, amongst other things, is suing a range of lawyers and agents after buying a Malibu property which allegedly had a mould problem. Miss Fox claims that the mould on the property, caused by damp, was causing her “chronic headaches” for which she received “holistic treatment.” So it would appear that even the Hollywood elite are all too familiar with the pervasive aroma of mould, but just what is it that gives it that distinct scent? READ MORE HERE: The smell released from mould, or more generally fungi, are called VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds). The’s VOCs can be pleasant, such as the odour emitted from wine or beer, while others are repulsive, such as the stink of sewage. The growing field of research into the volatilome sees scientists using chemical sensors to take a snapshot of the aroma profile to pinpoint exactly what is causing the specific aroma. So far over 300 VOCs have been identified. Despite being on the cutting edge of today’s research, smell has been used as far back as Ancient Greek physician Hippocrates to identify a patient’s ailments. But is the smell of mould as bad as we think or are the connotations we apply to it a factor in our disdain towards the scent? Shakespeare explores this in Romeo & Juliet, saying: “A rose by any other name would smell as sweet”, yet scientists have found that the name of a smell has a direct impact on how we react to it. They tested this by labelling a smell with either a pleasant name, such as countryside farm, or an unpleasant one, like hospital disinfectant. They found that the positive name made a pleasant smell more appealing, and conversely, less pleasant odours were experienced more repulsively when they were associated with negative names. One can only guess at how Megan Fox would react to the smell of mould in her $3.3million Malibu mansion. So is the mould in Megan’s house causing her to become unwell? It could well be. mVOC’s (Microbial Volatile Organic Compounds) are products of microbial metabolism, and can be found in common household mould. People who are exposed to mVOCs complain of headaches, dizziness, fatigue, and asthma-like symptoms - exactly what Megan Fox has described as her experience in her recent lawsuit.  But it doesn’t necessarily mean that the smell of mould means you’re being exposed to something potentially harmful, although that doesn’t mean there isn’t a chance. Mould smell indicates microbial growth which needs to be minimized to prevent property damage and unwanted exposure. But the science is increasingly showing us that these mVOCs are definitely connected with microbial activity and could be used to localize hidden mould, and potentially reduce the risk of someone becoming unwell. So, is the mould in your house worth a $5million lawsuit? If you’re Megan Fox, it could well be. The trial is ongoing, but perhaps a more thorough look around the property, and a good sense of smell, would have altered her to the dangers.
After a tiresome day, there is nothing better than crawling into bed and laying your head down onto a soft, comforting pillow. But before you drift off into the sweetest of dreams, take a moment to think about the hidden dangers lurking within your pillow. It could turn out to be your worst nightmare... A 2006 study looked into the fungi living in pillows, and they discovered that the most common 3 fungi were:​ Aspergillus fumigatus​, A​ureobasidium pullulans​ and a yeast, called Rhodotorula.​ What’s frightening is that ​Aspergillus fumigatus​, the most common fungus found in the pillows, is known to have implications for patients who have respiratory disease, especially those individuals suffering from asthma and sinusitis. The study went further, discovering that fungi were more prolific in synthetic fibres than natural ones. Over the past 30 years, our bedding buying habits have changed from feather and flock pillows, sheets and blankets to mainly polyester pillows and quilts. This means that we are being exposed to more of this potentially harmful fungus and that our pillows aren’t as hygienic as we think. For people living with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), a respiratory illness that affects 400,000 people in Oceania, the threat from this harmful fungus is very real. A recently published study found that up to 4% of COPD sufferers will develop infectious aspergillus, which has a startling mortality rate of 40-70%. This means that in any one year, approximately 7000 people die prematurely from invasive aspergillosis. And the most common fungus that causes invasive aspergillosis is ​Aspergillus fumigatus​, the same fungi that is the most commonly found in pillows. Even for those who don’t suffer from COPD, there is still cause for concern from invasive aspergillus. More than ever, people are buying pillows that are branded as being “allergy friendly” and these are often made from buckwheat, but contrary to their allergy friendly claims, they can sometimes be the cause of someone’s reaction. As well as being a hotbed for aspergillosis, buckwheat has been a known allergen since 1909. A report from 2003 outlines the case of a 24year old man in the US who went to his doctor reporting that he had been suffering from a worsening cough for the past three months, eventually becoming asthmatic. Any kind of medication prescribed to him was ineffective, yet the patient noted that anytime he spent time away from home his symptoms would improve, only to worsen when he returned. This led the doctors to test for any allergies the patient may be suffering from, and the results showed that he was suffering from a strong allergic reaction to both his buckwheat pillow as well as the aspergillus fungi growing inside of it. After removing both buckwheat pillows from his apartment, his cough and other symptoms completely resolved within four days. So how can you protect yourself from potentially harmful and hidden microbes in your pillows? One way would be to use a pillow protector to limit the physical contact you may be having with anything harmful within the pillow. Additionally, replacing your pillows more frequently will reduce the amount of harmful Aspergillus fumigatus you’re being exposed to. Moreover, being aware of what your pillows are made from will help you better understand the potential risks you are living with. If you use a synthetic or buckwheat pillow, it may be worth looking into replacing them with a natural feather pillow, which has fewer porous holes, therefore reducing contamination. Perhaps most important of all is simply being aware of the risks of infectious aspergillosis on susceptible people. Taking these simple precautions can help reduce the rate of premature deaths from infectious aspergillosis in the community. 
Breakthrough research out this past week shows that the gut mycobiome has a big influence on brain function.  Researchers have discovered that the Ketogenic diet can be used to manipulate the gut microflora and that certain fungi are linked with mild cognitive impairment.  The Keto diet was compared against participants who ate a diet endorsed by the  American Heart Association diet.  REFERENCES:Nagpal, R., Neth, B., Wang, S., Mishra, S., Craft, S., & Yadav, H. (2020). Gut mycobiome and its interaction with diet, gut bacteria and alzheimer's disease markers in subjects with mild cognitive impairment: A pilot study. Ebiomedicine, 59, 102950. doi: 10.1016/j.ebiom.2020.102950Ketogenic diet. Published 2020. Accessed September 3, 2020.
The COVID pandemic has shone a lens on the issue of mechanical ventilators.  No one wants to get that sick that ventilation is required just to have a chance at staying alive. In turn, what if there was a way to predict who would have a severe lung disease response or go on to suffer from acute respiratory distress syndrome (ADRS) and who wouldn't?  Well, some clever scientists have just discovered why some people show a high level of inflammation and seem to go on and suffer with ADRS.  In this LiveStream, I'm going to review this exciting breakthrough recently presented by the European Respiratory Society this week on Monday. Using next-generation sequencing, they were able to work out that the diversity of the lung fungal microflora (the mycobiome) predicted not only inflammation but detected the risk for which groups of people would have more severe lung disease.  I'll even tell you the biomarker they tracked.  So, what does this mean for you...well, if you have a predisposition to lung disease, then you'll want to tune in and find out why having a more diverse lung fungal mycobiome is better than lungs that show a dominance of one particular fungus.  Tune into the Livestream to find out which fungus is the worst to have growing inside.  REFERENCES:Abstract no: 3044, "Diversity of the lung microbiome is associated with severity of disease in acute respiratory distress syndrome", by Noel Britton et al; Online from Monday 24 August and presented in the "New insights into mechanical ventilation in the intensive care unit" session at 09.30 hrs CEST on Monday 7 September: F, Carrizzo A, Forte M, et al. The inflammatory protein Pentraxin 3 in cardiovascular disease. Immun Ageing. 2016;13(1):25. Published 2016 Aug 24. doi:10.1186/s12979-016-0080-1
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