Sick Building Syndrome:
What if your Indoor Environment is Making You Sick?
Is it possible that indoor environmental contaminants can make a difference to your health status?
Indoor Air Quality and Sick Building Syndrome (SBS) are terms many people do not think about often or they may not be familiar with these terms at all. However, the contaminants in the air you breathe and on the surfaces you touch inside your home, business or school (i.e., your indoor environments) can affect your health. If you feel sick when inside a location, but the symptoms improve noticeably after leaving the premises, you may be experiencing something called ‘Sick Building Syndrome’. Sick Building Syndrome means the building is causing the adverse health effects… harmful exposures in the indoor environment are causing the illness.
How do you know if your indoor environment has unhealthy contaminants that can cause sickness? The most common indoor pollutant people unknowingly are being exposed to on a daily basis is mold spores from a source(s) of indoor mold growth related to past or current water/humidity incident.
The building materials used today are highly susceptible to mold growth. Gypsum (sheetrock) walls have paper covering both sides, houses are built with low density wood from rapid-growth tree farms, vinyl wallpaper is often used that traps moisture behind it, carpeting is often installed. These are all materials that molds like to grow on when damp and if the material contains cellulose (paper, wood, cardboard boxes, jute, etc.), the item has the ingredient many toxic molds thrive on… molds like Stachybotrys and Chaetomium.
Mold spores are ubiquitous and the only ingredient needed for spores to start to multiply and colonize a material is sufficient moisture. Sufficient moisture for mold growth happens from a long list of potential causes— including plumbing leaks, rainwater seepage or flooding into a basement/ crawl space, condensation from temperature differences, high humidity, roof leaks, ice dams, sewer backups, and improper or failed flashing.
People wonder what the potential symptoms are from exposure to indoor mold growth. There are a wide range of health complaints reported. The most frequent problems are related to upper or lower respiratory ailments (asthma, sinusitis, chronic cough, rhinitis, sneezing), burning eyes, fatigue, skin rashes, nosebleeds, and headaches. Occasionally people also complain of fibromyalgia symptoms, joint pain, altered immune systems, concentration and memory difficulties, nausea, psychological problems, and/or hair loss.
Thus, if you have one or more of these symptoms and live or work in a location that has sustained an event of water damage, it would be very worth your while to test for abnormal contaminants from indoor mold growth. Please note that even if a water/ moisture problem happened and has been resolved in the past, once mold has grown the unhealthy fungal spores are still present. The allergens and toxins are found on the outside of the spores, so it does not matter whether the spores are alive, dormant or dead… allergens and toxins remain as long as the spores are still present. In order to get rid of the threat, it is necessary to physically remove the harmful pollutants. After the mold exposure is gone, symptoms usually resolve and quality of life typically returns to normal.
Is there an easy, cost effective way to find out if you are being exposed? MOLDetect® test kit was developed in 2001 exactly for that purpose. A one-, two- or three test kit can be selected to evaluate as many locations as you wish.