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Can Mold Give You Depression?

depression

Many people are aware that mold has an adverse effect on our health and wellbeing. In the last few decades, statistics for allergies, asthma, and other respiratory conditions have increased at an alarming rate. But one of the reasons for that increase is that our modern living spaces promote a sterile and closed-off environment (1).

Also, we are cleaning with more harsh chemicals and increasing the amount of moisture and dampness in our homes. In the last two years in particular, since the start of the pandemic, more people are staying at home. This means we are showering, cleaning, and spending more time in our homes thus increasing the amount of moisture in our living space.

Most of us are aware of the danger that mycotoxins from mold can have on our health. Of course, not everyone gets sick from mold. Some people have a genetic sensitivity that predisposes them to mold illness (2). But as of yet, research hasn’t been able to clearly identify who those people are and exactly why they’re so sensitive. Nonetheless, research shows that mold illness has increased exponentially over the last several decades (3).

depression

DOES MOLD CAUSE DEPRESSION?

However, a relatively new phenomenon is that mold exposure may actually contribute to the rise of depression as well. In a study conducted by Edward Shenassa and colleagues, they noticed an increase in depressive symptoms for people living in moldy or damp environments (4). This increase is still relevant even after the researchers controlled for aspects like overcrowding, economic factors, and perceived lack of control over the study participant’s environment.

The study showed that the overall risk for depression for those living in moldy and damp environments was between 34-44% (4). This is a significant number and one that we ought to pay attention to given that depression has sky-rocketed in the last several decades. Although there are many factors that lead to the development of depression, few experts have discussed the connection between mold and depression.

the overall risk for depression for those living in moldy and damp environments was between 34-44% Click To Tweet

HOW DOES MOLD IMPACT DEPRESSION?

Although this may be surprising, it makes sense considering the effect that mold can have on the nervous system and immune system (5,6). Several studies have shown that the mycotoxins produced by mold can cause clinical features similar to several neurologic disorders including pain syndromes, movement disorders, delirium, and dementia. Mold also has an effect on the immune system which has neurological consequences as well (5,7).

Several studies have shown that the mycotoxins produced by mold can cause clinical features similar to several neurologic disorders including pain syndromes, movement disorders, delirium, and dementia Click To Tweet

Any substance or pollutant that affects that neurological system will also have an effect on the neuropsychiatry of the individual, thus creating symptoms as seen in depression and anxiety. This is a startling new finding that may help unravel the common and devastating effects of both depression and increasing mold issues in modern environments.

The problem is, there are many factors involved in why a person develops depression as well as why people react to mold exposure. Interestingly, those with more sensitive immune and neurological systems are more likely to get both conditions. But what exactly denotes that sensitivity is still up for debate. More research is needed to control for several factors and thus pinpoint more causative factors.

 

WHAT OTHER FACTORS EFFECT MOLD RELATED DEPRESSION?

For instance, those that have more income are more able to clean up mold in their homes. This means they are less likely to be exposed to mold, but also, have more locus of control in creating a better home environment (4). For those without these resources, they are more likely to be exposed to mold. But also, the feeling of lacking control could be a factor in developing depression as well (4).

However, in one study, even mild or moderate mold exposure was still statistically significant even after controlling for the perception of control, other health issues, and the ability to remove mold. The study shows that mold-exposed people are still 28-34% more likely to develop depression. Nonetheless, the researchers feel that income levels need more attention as a variable in the depression and mold exposure link (8).

mold-exposed people are still 28-34% more likely to develop depression Click To Tweet

Another study looked at a comparison between mold-exposed individuals and a control group of unexposed people for factors like central or peripheral nervous system symptoms, fatigue, brain fog, arrhythmias, and multiple chemical sensitivities. The results were highly statistically significant for the study group versus the control group (9).

 

HOW DOES MOLD IMPACT YOUR NERVOUS SYSTEM?

In terms of central and peripheral nervous system issues, the study group showed that 80% of mold-exposed individuals had symptoms compared to only 11% of the control group. For fatigue and brain fog, the results were 77% and 62% for the study group versus 24% and 11% respectively (9). Since many of these symptoms are present in depression, it makes sense that depression is observed as well.

As of now, researchers can’t say that there is a definite causative link between mold exposure and depression, but the results of these studies show a strong possibility that should be explored with deeper more rigorous research.

References

https://www.euro.who.int/__data/assets/pdf_file/0017/43325/E92645.pdf

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1994167/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4840461/

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15143854/

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19854819/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2072855/

https://www.ncbi.nl

m.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7303478/

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How Fast Does Mold Grow After A Water Leak?

How Fast Does Mold Grow After a Water Leak? | Blog

Mold growth from flooding and water leaks has always been a nightmare for a homeowner. Not only is it difficult to remove, but it can also be costly for both finances and health issues. A water leak can happen in the home at any time of the year but is especially problematic after huge weather events like the winter storm of February 2021 in the southern US. Many people may be concerned right now about water damage and potential mold growth, mold spores, and how to prevent it in the home. Also, many people may not understand the importance of proper mold removal and the use of companies that fix water damage.

standing in flood waters in jeans - homebioticHow Long Does It Take Mold To Grow In A Flooded Home?

Unfortunately, after water damage or a water incident, it doesn’t take long for mold to grow in the home. If conditions are right, mold begins to grow aggressively within 24 to 48 hours (1). In the aftermath of a disaster or serious storm, cleanup and remediation within 48 hours might seem rushed but this is the critical period to stop mold from growing and damaging your home and personal property.

Unfortunately, after water damage or a water incident, it doesn’t take long for mold to grow in the home. If conditions are right, mold begins to grow aggressively within 24 to 48 hours Click To Tweet

What conditions need to exist?

Mold likes to eat fibrous material often found in home construction materials. Mold eats things like cardboard, paper, particleboard, bacteria, dust particles, and even furniture. However, it also requires moisture often from water leaks or water damage from natural disasters or a burst pipe. Anywhere there’s lots of humidity and moisture without airflow to dry it out you will see mold grow (1,2,3).

How soon after water damage do mold spores begin to grow?

Mold reproduces through the development and release of spores. As soon as it begins to grow, it also begins to reproduce fairly quickly. These spores are like tiny seeds that float in the air and settle on a surface. Wherever they settle, mold will grow in a new place. It’s very difficult to see spores with the naked eye and they do not become visible until they colonize and start to grow which is why it’s difficult to detect them early on. However, since mold is very opportunistic, most species will find a way to grow if the conditions are right (1-3).

black mold under wall paper - Homebiotic - how to get rid of moldDoes Water Damage Always Cause Mold Growth?

Mold requires food, space, and moisture in order to grow. If one of these things is missing, mold will have a harder time growing and reproducing (1-3). Although mold doesn’t always grow after moisture damage, it’s highly likely since many homes lack proper airflow, especially within walls. This is why home prevention and mold remediation strategies focus on these areas. A mold problem is only as bad as the conditions are ripe (4). Water damage restoration and removal of damaged materials are very important, but prevention is also needed.

Mold requires food, space, and moisture in order to grow. If one of these things is missing, mold will have a harder time growing and reproducing (1-3). Although mold doesn’t always grow after moisture damage, it’s highly likely since… Click To Tweet

Does water damage always cause dangerous black mold growth?

Black mold, or Stachybotrys, is one species of mold, but it is one of the most dangerous for the wellbeing of all living beings in the house. If this species is detected, it requires very skilled mold remediation and removal (1,5). Black mold can cause serious allergies, lung problems, immune issues, and exacerbation of pre-existing illnesses (5,6,7). Although black mold is dangerous, other species like aspergillus can also cause serious health problems (5). Although Stachybotrys is a risk, it doesn’t always grow with every incident of water damage.

leaking outdoors pipe - homebiotic - mold after water damageCan Mold Grow After A Leak Is Fixed?

Unfortunately, mold can still grow after a leak or flood damage has been fixed. Often this happens because the problem wasn’t fixed properly the first time. Occasionally, moisture is left behind or becomes hidden under floorboards or inside wall cavities. If this is the case, then spores can easily be deposited and cause a new colony of growth (1,2).

How to prevent mold after water damage?

The ideal is to prevent mold growth in the first place, but this may not always be feasible. Disasters like the recent ice and snowstorm in the southern US can happen, which greatly increases the amount of water damage and leaks in the house. Once moisture damage has taken place, it’s recommended to have a restoration company provide proper water damage restoration (1,3,6). Although many people believe they can do this on their own, it’s very easy to think the mess is cleaned up when it’s not. And without a proper restoration process, mold can begin to grow in a very short amount of time (1,7).

How to prevent further problems?

First, stop the moisture source! In the case of a pipe leak, shut off the main valve to cut off the water pressure.

Be sure that there’s sufficient airflow throughout the home to help the space dry out. Temperatures permitting, open up windows, or use fans, dehumidifiers, or air purifiers (1). The important thing is to move air through the home to dry out household objects, wall cavities, ceiling, floors, and furniture, and lower ambient humidity. This is especially crucial if there was any serious flooding. Be sure to remove and thoroughly dry any objects that were soaked. Personal property, drywall, or flooring may all need to be replaced if seriously damaged. Lastly, it’s highly recommended to work with a water damage restoration company that has mold removal experience to help repair any major problems after a water leak or flood (1,2,3).

Conclusion

Mold growth after water damage, leaks, and flooding is a serious problem that needs repair and remediation. This is especially important to consider after weather disasters and other climate issues. Mold growth can definitely cause health issues which can be deadly for specific people with compromised immune systems or existing health problems. The best way to deal with this problem is to prevent it in the first place, but once the water has leaked into the home, it’s important to find professional help in order to fix the problem and prevent mold before it takes hold.

The best way to deal with this problem is to prevent it in the first place, but once the water has leaked into the home, it’s important to find professional help in order to fix the problem and prevent mold before it takes hold. Click To Tweet

Lastly, fungus can’t grow in dry places void of food that has a good balance of other microbes to provide natural competition. This is why it’s not good to over-clean a home with antiseptic products. Instead, allow for a good balance of household, human, and soil-based microbes. Be sure to have good ventilation, remove clutter around places where water tends to leak, and consider investing in fans, dehumidifiers, and an air purifier.

References

https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/engineering/mould-growth

https://www.cdc.gov/mold/faqs.htm

https://royalsocietypublishing.org/doi/full/10.1098/rspb.2015.1139

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1892134/

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0013935115000304

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S1471490615000022

 

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Types of Mold: Cladosporium

Types of Mold: Cladosporium | Close up view of mold growing in a tray

Did you know there are over 100,000 different types of mold? When thinking in the context of household mold we often categorize the mold we see into colors in order to identify or explain the issues we are having. It goes much deeper than color! When we talk about types of mold that fall in the category of toxic, there are 5 to be concerned about: Cladosporium, Penicilium, Fusarium, Aspergillus, and Stachybotrys. In this article, we are going to talk specifically about Cladosporium.

cladosporium - homebiotic

WHAT IS CLADOSPORIUM?

Cladosporium is one of the most common species of mold found in houses and in the outdoors. They grow on almost any organic surface such as food, soil, plants, paint, textiles, and wood. They are rapidly growing and take on a cotton-like or fluffy brown appearance. There are over 700 varieties of Cladosporium species. Some species prey on plants, whereas other species act as parasites on other fungal microbes. Some species may cause physical health symptoms in people who are sensitive to mold and fungus.

black mold on drywall - homebiotic - types of moldWHAT DOES CLADOSPORIUM MOLD LOOK LIKE?

Cladosporium has dark-colored conidia, which looks a lot like plant or tree branches under the microscope. Conidia are one-celled spores that are produced asexually. To the naked eye, Cladosporium looks like a brown-colored fluff or discoloration on wet surfaces. However, depending on where they grow, they may not always be visible. Certain species that grow on plants cause black spots on leaves and stems.

IS CLADOSPORIUM DANGEROUS OR TOXIC?

As with any types of mold species, Cladosporium can cause health problems in people of any age. However, it depends on the immune system and the sensitivity of the individual. Some may not react to Cladosporium at all, while others will develop some allergies. However, some Cladosporium species can cause health emergencies if the spore count is unusually high in the air. People with compromised immune systems may have severe skin, eye, and lung complications when exposed to Cladosporium.

Cladosporium species can cause health emergencies if the spore count is unusually high in the air. People with compromised immune systems may have severe skin, eye, and lung complications when exposed to Cladosporium. Click To Tweet

WHAT ARE CLADOSPORIUM MOLD EXPOSURE SYMPTOMS?

Allergic symptoms can occur with prolonged exposure to Cladosporium species. Often these symptoms occur when exposed to more copious amounts. Again, it depends on the sensitivity and immune system of the individual.

General allergic symptoms can include:

  • Asthma
  • Stuffy nose
  • Cough and wheezing
  • Postnasal drip
  • Itchy eyes, nose, and throat
  • Fungal infections of the sinus, skin, and ears
  • Itchy dry skin

mold on tile - homebiotic - types of moldWHERE IS CLADOSPORIUM FOUND?

Cladosporium species are the most common molds typically found in homes. They can grow on almost any surface where this is a lack of sunlight and ventilation. You can find them in basements, kitchens, bathrooms, and any dark or damp areas of the home. The fuzzy mold found on old family heirlooms, in wine cellars, or old books stacked in the corner are often from the Cladosporium genus.

Cladosporium also has pathogenic plant species for both indoor and outdoor plants. They are also the most abundant mold species found outside. They may destroy new plant sprouts and can cause blackened areas on the leaves of indoor plants.

Cladosporium also has pathogenic plant species for both indoor and outdoor plants. They are also the most abundant mold species found outside. They may destroy new plant sprouts and can cause blackened areas on the leaves of indoor… Click To Tweet

CLADOSPORIUM GROWTH CONDITIONS

Different species of Cladosporium can grow in a wide range of conditions. They thrive on both wet or dry surfaces, which has implications for identification and removal. Although most species are dry, there are a few that can grow on wet surfaces like meat and food. However, the optimal temperature range is between 18-28 degrees celsius.

INTERESTING FACT – Although Cladosporium is not known to produce dangerous mycotoxins, it produces Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) associated with odors. The classic musty smell is a good indicator that Cladosporium species are present.

cleaning sponge - homebiotic

HOW TO REMOVE CLADOSPORIUM MOLD?

Removing embedded Cladosporium clusters may require professional help. Because this species can be found on both wet and dry surfaces, it requires expert knowledge and problem-solving.

Since most Cladosporium species produce a delicate fluff, they can be easily inhaled when disturbed. Although Cladosporium is not considered lethal in the general population, for some people, it can cause severe symptoms. For this reason, removal requires some protective clothing and gear to prevent inhalation and skin exposure.

It’s important to safely remove any types of mold species in your home, even if it’s not considered toxic. Professional mold testing can be invaluable for understanding which mold species are present and where.

It’s critical to understand how to prevent mold from growing back. Keep an eye on the damp areas of your home—particularly areas like windows, plants, basements, and attics. Kitchens and bathrooms are often popular places for mold growth as well. Keep humidity below 50% and make sure there is enough air ventilation. Opening windows or using fans can significantly improve air circulation.


REFERENCES

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cladosporium

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3390897/

https://www.plantmanagementnetwork.org/pub/php/research/2008/marsh/

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0166061618300095#bib30

https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/pdf/10.1080/08940630.1987.10466201