Lourdes Salvador's Column
...Co-founder of MCS America discusses the latest Multiple Chemical Sensitivity issues.
Lourdes Salvador volunteers as a writer and social advocate for the recognition of multiple chemical sensitivity (MCS). She was a passionate advocate for the homeless and worked with her local governor to provide services to the homeless through a new approach she created to end homelessness. That passion soon turned to advocacy and activism for people with MCS and the medical professionals who serve them. She co-founded MCS Awareness in 2005 and went on to found MCS America in 2006. She serves as a partner for Environmental Education Week, a partner for the Collaborative on Health and the Environment (CHE), and a supporter for the American Cancer Society: Campaign for Smokefree Air.
Mold Linked to Allergies
by Lourdes Salvador
A new scientific study confirms that mold odor near baseboards is correlated with childhood allergies and rhinitis. “There are consistent findings on associations between asthma and allergy symptoms and residential mold and moisture,” says Hägerhed-Engman and colleagues.
Molds can have devastating health effects, particularly on young, developing children. Odor along baseboards may signify hidden moisture or mold problems in bathrooms, within the walls or foundation of a building.
Mold and dampness is linked to many health problems, including respiratory disease, asthma, allergies, immune disease, behavioral disorders, and toxic poisoning. Occupying a moldy building nearly doubles the chance of asthma.
Molds are both a biotoxin and an allergen. Allergic symptoms of mold exposure include congestion, sneezing, watery eyes, sore throat, cough, skin irritation, headache, fatigue, and light sensitivity. Toxic mold exposure symptoms include neurological disorders, behavioral changes, chronic fatigue, and chemical sensitivity.
There are many different kinds of bacteria, fungi, and spores which grow on nearly any surface under the right conditions. Moist places, such as air ducts, ceilings, and plumbing enclosures are most problematic. Homeowners frequently neglect regular cleaning of these out-of-reach places and mold can develop and fester quite readily. Energy efficient hermetically sealed homes do not allow moisture to escape through adequate ventilation.
Researchers say the only true way to determine if baseboard odor is linked to hidden mold problems is to take apart the baseboard and break into the wall and floor to look for visible moisture damage.
Inadequate ventilation increases the risk of both mold discovery and the health effects of any existing mold.
Keeping a home dry and well ventilated decreases the chance of mold. A dehumidifier may be useful in humid climates and damp places such as laundry rooms and bathrooms. Checking regularly for leaks and replacing any water damaged building materials promptly will reduce the chances of mold taking hold.
Should mold illness occur, prompt medical attention should be sought. It is crucial to relocate until mold remediation has been completed. Continued exposure to mold can cause worsening health over time.
Hägerhed-Engman L, Sigsgaard T, Samuelson I, Sundell J, Janson S, Bornehag CG. Low home ventilation rate in combination with moldy odor from the building structure increase the risk for allergic symptoms in children. Indoor Air. 2009 Jun;19(3):184-92. Epub 2009 Mar 9.
For more articles on this topic, see: MCSA News.
Copyrighted 2009 Lourdes Salvador & MCS America
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