What is happening in Texas with Hurricane Harvey is so sad and concerning. My prayers are with them during this difficult time. In the back of my mind I cant stop thinking about all of the fungal and bacterial growth that is going to take over the flooded areas. This is a huge concern for Texas right now. It is not something to be taken lightly. Exposure to these pathogens and biotoxins can be deadly and severely affect a persons health.
In the case of toxic mold it does not only affect a person who has a compromised immune system or someone with COPD, this is simply not true. Children, adults and healthy individuals with no preexisting health conditions can become sick and develop a host of illnesses from exposure to certain types of mycotoxin producing molds and other biotoxins. I fear that many families will not remove wet baseboard, carpeting, drywall and furniture in their flooded homes and they will sadly stay in an environment that can potentially make them very sick. I also fear that many will go into their homes once the water has gone and they will begin cleanup without the proper protection as mentioned in the video above and the video below. If you need more information on how to safely clean after a flood please click here
For videos that cover the effects of mold and mycotoxins on human health please click here.
Below I’ve compiled a few quotes from articles talking about the dangers of toxic mold exposure and mold issues after Hurricane Harvey. I truly hope that the people affected will be okay in the weeks and months that follow. This is such a hard time for our fellow Texans.
“The first way toxic mold degenerates the human body is dehydration. This is due to their sucking the moisture out of the body for their own use. This contributes to a state of under-hydration in the body. Often this is further complicated by consumption of dehydration substances, such as caffeine soda, coffee or alcohol. The human body can survive longer without food than it can survive without water (H2O). Water (H2O) is one of the two main ways the human body takes in the oxygen it requires, in order to stay generative. The second way toxic mold degenerates the human body is the production of mycotoxins, which mold fungi use to kill off their microbial competitors. These mycotoxins are very harmful, as they damage the brain and central nervous system. This is why they concentrate and weaponize some of these same structural molds, which are found in homes, workplaces and schools, into some of the most powerful biological weapons on earth, the T-2 Mycotoxins.”
How Mold Spores and Mycotoxins Affect the Body
“Amplified growth of mold in water-damaged, damp indoor environments contributes greatly to ill health effects and is extensively documented in the literature [4, 6–10]. Mold and mycotoxins are probably the best understood contaminants of water-damaged buildings and will be discussed throughout this paper. Exposure to water-damaged indoor environments has been shown to result in exposure to amplified growth of mold and mycotoxins including ochratoxin (OTA), aflatoxin, and trichothecene mycotoxins, all of which have been found in indoor environments [11–14] and in the bodies of those exposed to these environments [15–18]. Exposure to mold and mold components are well known to trigger inflammation, oxidative stress, and inflammatory reactions in both human and animal studies and have frequently been found in association with air found in water-damaged indoor environments [13, 19–26]. Thousands of mycotoxins have been identified to date; however, we will limit discussion to those currently felt to have the most relevance to health effects resulting from water-damaged indoor environments.
Aflatoxins are produced by Aspergillus parasiticus, Aspergillus flavus, Aspergillus nomius, and various species of Penicillium, Rhizopus, Mucor, and Streptomyces . Aflatoxin B1 (AFB1) is genotoxic, immunotoxic, hepatotoxic, mutagenic, and considered one of the most abundant, most toxic, and most potent naturally occurring carcinogenic substances known and is the leading cause of liver cancer in many developing countries [27–29]. Sterigmatocystin produced by multiple species of Aspergillus is considered only slightly less toxic than aflatoxin .
Ochratoxin A is produced by Aspergillus ochraceus, Aspergillus niger, Aspergillus, and species of Penicillium, Petromyces, and Neopetromyces. OTA is a nephrotoxic, genotoxic, immunotoxic, and  neurotoxic [22, 31] mycotoxin which is a known carcinogen in animals and a class 2B, possible human carcinogen. Associations have been found with human kidney disease [32, 33] including Balkan endemic nephropathy  and focal segmental glomerulosclerosis (FSGS) .”
Scientific Study on Exposure to Water-Damaged Buildings, Mold, and Mycotoxins
The documented dangers of excessive mold exposure are many. Guidelines issued by the World Health Organization note that living or working amid mold is associated with respiratory symptoms, allergies, asthma, and immunological reactions. The document cites a wide array of “inflammatory and toxic responses after exposure to microorganisms isolated from damp buildings, including their spores, metabolites, and components,” as well as evidence that mold exposure can increase risks of rare conditions like hypersensitivity pneumonitis, allergic alveolitis, and chronic sinusitis.
Molds also emit volatile chemicals that some experts believe could affect the human nervous system. Among them is Joan Bennett, a distinguished professor of plant biology and pathology at Rutgers University, who has devoted her career to the study of fungal toxins.”
The Atlantic – August 31, 2017
“The amount of water they have had, you can’t avoid the mold. It will happen in homes that will be underwater for a longer period of time,” said Maureen Lichtveld, professor and chair of the department of global environmental health sciences at Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine. She advised residents who return to previously flooded homes to gut the interiors and rebuild, rather than wasting time and money to test for mold that’s almost an inevitability. “Mold is a really big problem as people go back into their homes,” Benjamin said.”
The Hill – August 31, 2017
“If your house becomes flooded during the storm, Glatter says, carpeting and fabric-based furniture should not be salvaged.
“Bacteria can leach onto fabrics and lead to airborne infections,” he said. “I would not recommend holding onto anything with fabric that absorbs floodwater.”
Hard surfaces that have come in contact with floodwater, including walls, floors, stoves, and countertops should be thoroughly disinfected. Wearing rubber boots and gloves while cleaning homes is important to reduce risk of infection.
Mold is also common after heavy flooding and can exacerbate asthma, allergies, or other respiratory diseases like COPD. Mold can appear in as little as 24 to 48 hours after floodwater recedes.”
CBS News – August 30, 2017
[…] job in an old building. What was unbeknownst to me was that the building had a history of water intrusion and mold issues. Another problem was that the walls around my desk area were being remodeled. I […]