This is a post I should have written ages ago. I took it for granted that my readers knew what “toxic mold” meant. But since I shared my story about our SECOND toxic mold crisis, I have received many emails and comments from my readers wondering what exactly causes mold to be toxic.
This is a great question and one I will finally provide an answer for today. I must warn you though. The answer isn’t all that complicated and this post may end up being my shortest mold related post to date. I will do my best to stretch it out. 😉
The term “toxic mold” is a bit misleading as it suggests that certain molds themselves are toxic. In reality, a very narrow set of molds produce secondary metabolites that produce toxins. These are known as mycotoxins. Let’s dive a wee bit deeper.
Mycotoxins are the chemical substances that molds produce.
They are thought to possibly play a role in helping to prepare the substrate on which the molds exist for digestion. They have also been found to act as defense mechanisms. Mycotoxins may be produced when the organisms are under stress, which could be related to competition/defense, or simply due to inhospitable environmental conditions.
The mycotoxins, which are a neurotoxin (a toxin that is determined to cause neurological damage), most commonly reach people from the air, via spores from the molds that produce them. They are found in small particulates of mold that have dried and turned to dust. These spores, when inhaled, can begin to colonize in the sinuses and throughout the body, including the brain, lungs and gut after a period of time.
Mycotoxins can lead to a wide range of severe health issues including:
- Autoimmune diseases
- Irreversible neurological damage
- Immunological damage
You can learn more about the health conditions associated with mycotoxins in this post.
Aside from the fact that mycotoxins are known inhibitors of DNA, RNA, and protein synthesis, they have the ability to destroy human health (mentally and physically), and never appear in an autopsy. This is why they are used in biological warfare.
So as you can see, “toxic mold” is a broad term used to define those molds that are capable of producing mycotoxins – the real culprits when it comes to health issues associated with mold exposure.
Any questions? Need further clarification? Just let me know.