Molds - Effects on Human Health

Source: Agency for Health and Social Services of Montreal

According to a report of the Working Group on fungi in the air of homes Health Canada(1) and two canadians studies(2,3), high humidity and the presence of fungi (molds) and their toxins can cause health problems following in humans:

  • Respiratory symptoms: cough, coughing, irritation of the nose and throat, runny nose, sneezing, wheezing (wheezing), difficulty breathing, chest pain;
  • Respiratory allergies: rhinitis, alveolitis, bronchitis, asthma, hypersensitivity pneumonitis;
  • Non-respiratory symptoms: eye irritation, lesions and tissue infections;
  • Skin allergies: skin irritation, dermatitis;
  • Systemic toxicity, fever, chills, headache, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, immune system deficiencies, fatigue, hair loss.

These toxic effects are due to various substances produced by fungi: ouspores propagules used for breeding of fungus, mycotoxins or chemicals associated with spores and volatile chemicals or vapors detected by their characteristic smell musty. The risks to health are also linked to the presence of other microorganisms that live and multiply easily in humid environments such as bacteria and dust mites (tiny animals barely visible to the naked eye in the class of arachnids) .

Both studies(2,3) therefore conclude that exposure to dampness and mold in homes is an important risk factor for respiratory disease in Canada, especially as 38% of homes surveyed showed signs of moisture and mold.

1.Tobin R.S. et al. (1987). Significance of the presence of fungi in the air inside buildings - Report of a working group. Prepared by Health Canada Working Group on fungi in the air of homes. Canadian Journal of Public Health, 78: S15-S32
2.Dales ce, Burnett R., H. Zwaneneburg (1991). Adverse health effects Among adults exposed to home dampness and molds. American reveiw of respiratory disease, 143: 505-509 3.Dales ce, Zwaneneburg H., et al. (1991). Respiratory health effects of home dampness and molds Among canadian children, American journal of epidemiology 134 (2): 196-203