How dangerous is mold in the home?

Dr. Michael Roizen, MD
Internal Medicine
Mold is an indoor pollutant that's gotten a lot of press lately and perhaps for good reason. While there is much research yet to be done, there is growing concern over mold endotoxins (mold, dust mite or other small and inhalable "body parts") and mycotoxins (biochemical toxins produced by molds to weaken or kill the things they live on or compete with).

While the indoor air quality community debates whether or not "toxic mold" is a real problem or not, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and veterinary doctors everywhere very much worry about the ingestion of mycotoxins by humans and animals. There are a large number of mycotoxins that are proven carcinogens when ingested in quantity and a few most recent studies have shown that when inhaled, these toxins are at least ten times more potent. Perhaps the most sobering fact is that two mycotoxins -- aflatoxin and the Tricothecene T-2, are considered by the U.S. military to be among the most likely biochemical warfare agents to be used by terrorists. A large body of data exists proving that animals when exposed to large quantities of mycotoxin over a short amount of time suffer greatly; however, little data exists concerning the low-dose, long-duration exposure to these particles. It took over 17 years to find that one of these mycrotoxin molds -- aflatoxin that grows on peanut shells -- could cause liver cancer.

These are difficult causes to determine -- for example if the mold that breads on Roquetfort cheese caused cancer in one of 20 people eating a certain level of it 20 years later, it would be difficult to attribute such to that mold. Therefore, the data are still too sparse for us to be able to say clearly how much aging mold and mold toxins cause. I believe we will find this to be a significant source of human disease (including autoimmune disease) and aging. Obviously, indoor mold that is airborne can cause disability and aging. So, you want to ensure that places where you spend a lot of time are free of mold.
The RealAge Makeover: Take Years off Your Looks and Add Them to Your Life

More About this Book

The RealAge Makeover: Take Years off Your Looks and Add Them to Your Life

Why not live at 60 feeling like you did at 35?Thousands of Americans are younger today than they were five years ago. How is that possible? By following the specific recommendations that reverse...

Continue Learning about Household Safety

how do i prevent bacteria from spreading at home ?
Dr. Michael Roizen, MDDr. Michael Roizen, MD
To prevent bacteria from spreading at home, teach your kids to shut the lid before they flush. It al...
More Answers
is your water safe to drink ?
The best resources to determine if your local drinking water is safe to drink are local news outlets...
More Answers
why should i get rid of my kitchen sponges ?
Univ. of Nev. School of Medicine, Family MedicineUniv. of Nev. School of Medicine, Family Medicine
The main reason is that they collect bacteria. Warm, moist environments are something that bacteria ...
More Answers
how can i prevent falls at home ?
Univ. of Nev. School of Medicine, Family MedicineUniv. of Nev. School of Medicine, Family Medicine
Falls in the home are usually due to hazards that can be easily corrected. Throw rugs should be remo...
More Answers

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.