Do I Have Toxic Mold Poisoning?

When it comes to mold and its effects on health, one question stands out: ‘Could I be suffering from toxic mold poisoning?’ It’s a common concern, reflecting the growing worry about potential health risks in our homes. And alongside this worry comes another common question: ‘Is mold really that big of a deal? After all, it’s everywhere, isn’t it?’ These questions aren’t just passing thoughts; they show a real desire to understand the relationship between mold and our well-being. By exploring these questions, we can uncover the truth about mold-related health issues and dispel any misunderstandings about how common and serious they can be.

There are literally thousands of mold species, however, not every species produces toxic compounds. However, water damage is becoming more and more common, which is leading to more mold exposure and mycotoxin production in homes, offices, and schools. However, even if the mold growth isn’t producing toxins you might be reacting to the spores themselves.

Let’s briefly talk about the two items you might be reacting to, what symptoms you might expect, and how to test to see if this is what is causing your problems.


What is Mycotoxin Poisoning?

The most serious problems caused by mold are caused by small molecules call mycotoxins, which are produced by mold when they feel threatened. Think of this like the ink an octopus produces or when a skunk sprays someone. For some mycotoxins, low levels are not problematic for most individuals.

These mycotoxins (OchratoxinAflatoxin, Mycophenolic acid) are found in low amounts in food. However, other mycotoxins such as the Trichothecenes are toxic in much smaller quantities, but only in water-damaged buildings, and they are much more toxic. Trichothecenes are produced by Stachybotrys, otherwise known as black mold(1).

There are multiple different health effects that are caused by mycotoxins, and these symptoms are influenced by genetics, sex, age of the patient. The number of mycotoxins patient’s absorbed and the type of mycotoxin also play a role in symptoms (2). However, common signs are chronic fatigue, ADHD, rashes, COPD, and depression. Less common symptoms include dementia, Parkinson’s, and cancer. Mycotoxins also weaken the immune system, which leads to other secondary infections to occur (3, 4).

Common Signs of Toxic Mold Poisoning

Symptoms and signs of mycotoxins poisoning are very different depending on many factors. How this poisoning presents itself depends on:

  • Type of mycotoxin
  • Amount of mycotoxin
  • Duration of poisoning
  • Age of individual
  • Sex
  • Prior health status
  • Other toxins present
  • Dietary status
  • Genetic structure
  • And others

This means there can be a major difference in symptoms between individuals in the population exposed to it. To some extent it is clear that mycotoxicosis can increase susceptibility to infections, worsen the effect of other toxins present and advance other health conditions.

Although acute poisoning is more obvious and sometimes has grave effects, chronic exposure is much more present in the population in general. Finally, mycotoxin exposure can cause changes in immune, nervous system, behavior, mood and even development problems like stunting.

Health Concerns

The other way that mold exposure can affect your health is through allergy and IgE-mediated pathways. Mold can introduce multiple different types of antigens to your system. One of the main antigens involved is mold spores. Mold can lead to asthma, hypersensitivity reactions, and mold related illnesses such as pulmonary inflammatory disease.

There are many different variants that could cause a patient to have one reaction compared to another. One of these factors is the human leukocyte antigen (HLA) patterns. Another likely significant factor is the glutathione transferase genes. One study found that polymorphism in GSTP1 influenced illness and treatment after exposure to water-damaged buildings(5).

Mold Poisoning Test

Lastly, what could we do to test if we have been poisoned by mold?  The best testing methods to utilize are our urine mycotoxin test and our home environment test the EMMA.  Mold testing will give you a comprehensive mold and mycotoxin look into your body and home.  For more information on these tests, I recommend reading about finding mold in your home and about mold growth.

1 A. Bertero, A. Moretti, L. J. Spicer, F. Caloni, Fusarium Molds and Mycotoxins: Potential Species-Specific Effects. Toxins (Basel) 10, (2018).
2 J. Hope, A review of the mechanism of injury and treatment approaches for illness resulting from exposure to water-damaged buildings, mold, and mycotoxins. ScientificWorldJournal 2013, 767482 (2013).
3 D. A. Creasia et al., Acute inhalation toxicity of T-2 mycotoxin in mice. Fundam Appl Toxicol 8, 230-235 (1987).
4 W. P. Liew, S. Mohd-Redzwan, Mycotoxin: Its Impact on Gut Health and Microbiota. Front Cell Infect Microbiol 8, 60 (2018).
5 A. England et al., Variants in the genes encoding TNF-alpha, IL-10, and GSTP1 influence the effect of alpha-tocopherol on inflammatory cell responses in healthy men. Am J Clin Nutr 95, 1461-1467 (2012).