contact

mission jobs calendar ask questions newsletter links classes articles sitemap

PROMOTING EXCELLENCE IN NYC MULTI-FAMILY BUILDING OPERATION AND MAINTENANCE

site at a glance
homepage
sitemap
what's new?
sta school
member enrollment
events calendar
meeting directions
STA Shop
current weather
building codes
ny times news
find
sitemap
search site
contact us
chapters
newsletter
membership
questions
super questions
faqs
ask a question
events
 
sponsors
jobs
maintenance jobs
resumes
situations-wanted
management jobs
education
sta education services
continuing ed
glossaries
research
tip of the month
writing
newsletter archives
articles
one super life
blogs
book suggestions
book reviews
glossaries
dictionary/thesaurus
helpful links
2009 membership
vendor member list
maintenance links
nyc links
more nyc links
neighborhoods
local papers
supers blogs
nyc transit info
energy
conserving resources
real estate
nyc site of the week
helpful numbers
site info
press releases
mission
history
bylaws
in the media
your privacy
terms of service
ad rates
donate
 
misc.
building fund
download toolbar
supers' blogs
photo archives
membership form
jokes
nyc weather
classified ads
about paypal
for web novices
sponsors
game room
tools bought/sold
fundraising
donations
vendor member list
blogs
Porters, Handymen, and Doorman, or PHD's Blog
 
  Molds and Indoor Air Quality - Fact or Fiction?  
     
 
Tell a friend about this page

Excerpted from a communication from R. Vincent Miller, Ph.D. Aerotech Laboratories, Inc. (800-651-4802/602-780-4800)

Molds have always had a love/hate relationship with humankind.  Our early ancestors found out that molds and yeast could turn milk in to cheese and fruit juice into wine.  But other molds have been the plague of humanity.

Mold infected rye with ergot toxins destroyed over 30,000 men in a single night in Alexander's army.  And a mold destroyed the potato crop in Ireland resulting in one of the world's worst famines.  Now it appears, if you believe all the newspaper articles that we are yet again under siege by a mold, this time in the walls, ceilings, and carpets of our homes, schools and workplaces.

Public attention to molds in indoor environments really started from an incident that occurred in Cleveland, beginning in 1994.  In this incident, cases of pulmonary disease in infants were associated with the presence of the mold, Stachybotrys, in the homes of the children... From the interest stimulated from this incident a number of case histories have been studied, many from the Nordic regions of Europe.

These studies indicate that exposure to a number of molds can cause symptoms in exposed people ranging from mild allergic reactions to pulmonary reactions to acute neurological, pulmonary, and immunological effects.

The current evidence, though not complete, certainly indicates that acute massive exposures to toxic molds can affect health.  What remains a question though is, what are the effects of the long-term less concentrated chronic exposures that are probably more commonly experienced by people?  This question cannot be fully answered at this time because such studies have simply not been done.

We can also use knowledge that we've gained on other toxins from the same chemical class.  At lower concentrations the trichothecenes suppress the immune system, making animals more susceptible to infection.  This immune suppression would support the observation that people in mold-infested buildings often complain of increased numbers of colds, flu, and nasal congestion.

There is a school of thought that people have always been exposed to low levels of molds, particularly in humid environments, without any perceivable health problems.  So the question is; are these low chronic exposures of people to molds and/or their toxins of real concern?  Or, are we simply overreacting to the situation?  But even though many people are probably exposed to molds and their toxins and live apparently normal life spans does not mean that the molds do not have adverse effect on their health.

A good analogy is with second-hand smoke.  After years of denial, we now know that second-hand smoke can and indeed does affect the health of non-smokers.  Thus, indoor air professionals have taken the conservative approach that the presence of molds may affect health and should be remediated no matter what.  This then leads to a third school of thought which is, that we don't need to test or identify the organism since we have to remediate if mold is present in any circumstance in an indoor environment...

Although there is some merit to this argument, there are some very good reasons for identifying the invading mold including legal protection for the building manager, homeowner, and insurance company.  It also helps inform the physician of victims so that he or she can provide the best medical care..

So, now back to the initial theme of this discussion:  Are molds really a health problem in indoor environments or is this simply a fad that will disappear over time.   Clearly, a massive exposure can have potentially dramatic effects on human health.   So yes, they are a health concern that must be dealt with, if for no other reason than to prevent an injurious exposure.  Should we always call a qualified professional?  The reality is that with tight budgets, many homeowners, building managers, and government agencies do not feel that they can afford such services in may instances.

So the industry must respond by increased education to increase public awareness, enhance safety, and help determine when a professional is really needed.

 

 
  back to articles list