Mould is more than just a trivial bathroom stain…

Do any of these symptoms look familiar?

  • general respiratory complications
  • coughing or throat irritation
  • watery / red / itchy eyes
  • frequent sneezing
  • sinus blockage

Mould is a harmful fungus inhaled by many people at home and at work on a daily basis to the detriment of their health.

Does mould worsen hayfever?

In connection with the symptoms above, and for other reasons yes, mould spores are also a willing and able contributor to the suffering of people with hayfever.

Where is mould found?

Mould spores grow indoors as a result of dampened or poorly ventilated areas, and are produced and sent airborne (disguised as dust) by several species of indoor plants. Moulds are also found outdoors in most humid or decaying conditions.

They are also found on food and inside refrigerators, and fungi such as yeasts are also an ingredient in many foods.

Did you know

Basidiospores, such as those released into the air by mushrooms, are known to be allergenic to the same extent as pollens and mould – another good reason to stay indoors around times of heavy rainfall.

Is mould a serious health threat?

Mould spores are known to cause respiratory complications in otherwise healthy individuals, as well as worsening the symptoms of those already suffering1.

Some moulds like the black mould ‘stachybotrys chartarum’ long associated with damp structures, wallpaper etc (as well as soil and grain) produce mycotoxins that pose serious health risks to humans and animals including neurological problems and, in serious cases, even death2.

Did you know

In 2008 a man died after suddenly inhaling a large number of spores in some garden compost3?

Who is most at risk from mould and fungal spores?

If you or anyone in your family suffers from hayfever, asthma or any other respiratory condition including a weakened immune system or lung-related illness then be very wary of collected mould, or compost or any decaying matter that’s anywhere in or near your house or garden.

An extremely hazardous puff of concentrated spores may only be one curious prod or foot stomp away in any place or storage vessel that’s damp, humid, wet, old, rotten or just naturally fungal.

Statistically the greatest menace is not sudden massive exposure as a result of curiosity or gardening, but long-term passive exposure day in day out as people go about their lives unaware of what they are constantly ingesting.

Infants under the age of one should not be exposed to any kind of mould spores at any time. Fungal spores like ‘aspergillus fumigatus’ often found on rotting plant material can adversely affect respiratory function and health if inhaled suddenly or in great quantity by anyone, not just babies or those with respiratory conditions or decreased immunity.

Mould can be elusive (out of sight often means out of mind), and because the effects of spores can be mistaken for other things, mould is often left to thrive in and around buildings.

What’s the best way to kill mould?

Your best weapon used to wipe away mould is white vinegar, which you can dilute with water in a standard spray bottle available from your local grocery or hardware store.

Bleach (and products containing bleach-type ingredients) will NOT kill penetrated mould. The mould will seem to disappear from view, then will simply reappear as soon as it grows back to full size again.

Important

If there’s a chance you’re allergic to mould DO NOT expose yourself to it. Have a cleaner or mould specialist remove it for you.

Some research also suggests that bleach is an asthmagen, best avoided by anyone with respiratory and/or asthma-like symptoms4.

For the most effective (and safe) removal of mould, naturally fermented white vinegar is most often recommended nowadays.

Be sure to protect yourself with the necessary equipment such as (certified facial masks and don’t forget goggles and gloves) and pro-actively find and destroy the mould lurking in various locations around your house, office or recreation facilities, such as the common areas listed here:

Yeasts

One of the least common families of the fungi kingdom, yeasts are used in the creation of food, beverages and health supplements (such as probiotics) and are also helpful to us in several areas of cell biology research.

However, some species of yeast are opportunistic pathogens that can cause infections, particularly in people with weakened immune systems.

Those with yeast infections or related conditions (such as Candida) should take extra care and seek professional consultation to avoid yeast-related substances, foods and products at all times, but particularly during hayfever season.

Which foods should be avoided, if any?

Generally speaking fermentation is not something that’s going to be helpful for your hayfever.

Naturally occurring substances in foods can contribute to some symptoms that resemble allergies, such as tyramine found in yeast extract spreads (Promite/Marmite/Vegemite) and fermented sauces (ie bean and soy), in addition to red wine and cheeses such as Blue, Roquefort and Parmesan (histamine) as well as Camenbert and Cheddar (tyramine) as these all contain vaso-active amines5,6.

The reasons for and benefits of getting yourself allergy tested are endless. As the old saying goes, “It’s better the devil you know.”

Sources:

  1. For Dummies. How can mold affect your health? http://www.dummies.com/how-to/content/how-can-mold-affect-your-health.html, accessed July 2014.
  2. Wikipedia. Mycotoxin. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mycotoxins, accessed July 2014.
  3. The Guardian. Man dies after inhaling fungal spores from garden compost, June 2008. http://www.theguardian.com/science/2008/jun/13/medicalresearch, accessed July 2014.
  4. Mycologia. Vinegar vs bleach. http://mycologia.com.au/dont-use-bleach/, accessed July 2014.
  5. Sabine Spiesser. Foods containing vaso-active amines. http://sacfs.asn.au/publications/talking_point/2001/2_jun/amines.htm, accessed July 2014.
  6. Dr Adrian Morris. Common food allergies. http://www.allergy-clinic.co.uk/food-allergy/food-and-allergy/, accessed July 2014.