While molds are being considered as one of the possible causes of actress Brittany Murphy’s unfortunate death, the very thought of these profusely prevailing microbial organisms overpowering our lives, daunts one’s mind. There are probably infinite molds species that could be either boon or curse to us. But if we actively start pondering over what we care about and what we don’t, then we will realize that molds are being overly underestimated as possible factors for causing death or other fatal disorders. The truth, however is, that molds could very well cost you your life.
Mycotoxins are toxins that are secondary metabolites of molds and are cause of several diseases. Mycotoxins could be:
- Genotoxic – inducing mutations and causing fatal genetic disorder.
- Cytotoxic – capable of disturbing normal functioning of cells and killing cells (apoptosis)
- Nasal congestion
- Sore throat and various other respiratory disorders
- Allergies in general including dermal allergies
Keeping this general information in mind lets have a closer look at some common myotoxins and disorders associated with them
- Mycotoxin: Fumonisins
Organism:Fusarium moniliforme ;
Source of infection: Maize grains and related food products
Disorders: abdominal pain, borborygmus and diarrhea. .
Organisms: Fusarium genus
Source of Infection: Flour and rice.
Disorders: depression of immune responses, nausea, vomiting
- Mycotoxin: Ochratoxins
Organisms: Aspergillius and Penicillium strains
Source of Infection : coffee beans, cereals, breads and also food items of animal origins.
- Mycotoxin: Aflatoxins
Source of Infection: nuts, cereals and rice
Disorders: immunosuppressive, mutagenic, teratogenic and carcinogenic
From the above examples, it is clearly evident that molds could affect your well being....
May it be a minor problem, like running nose or severe medical condition like genetic disorder; molds are capable of causing it all.
How to avoid growth of molds in your surroundings?
As a rule of thumb, molds generally grow in warm and humid conditions, so to avoid molds try to avoid your surroundings from getting muggy and CDC recommend the following guidelines:
- Keep the humidity level in the house between 40% and 60%.
- Use an air conditioner or a dehumidifier during humid months.
- Be sure the home has adequate ventilation, including exhaust fans.
- Add mold inhibitors to paints before application.
- Clean bathrooms with mold killing products.
- Do not carpet bathrooms and basements.
CDC has also issued some general safety rules to follow while cleaning up on molds:
- Never mix bleach with ammonia or other household cleaners. Mixing bleach with ammonia or other cleaning products will produce dangerous, toxic fumes.
- Open windows and doors to provide influx of fresh air.
- Wear non-porous gloves and protective eye wear.
Although molds could be cleaned up and the healthy living conditions could be restored, the fact remains that these organism can cause irreversible disorders and hence our old adage stating prevention is the best cure still holds good.