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Molds & Effects on Human Health

According to a Health Canada Workgroup report1 on fungus in ambiant air in houses, and two recent Canadian studies 2,3, the high humidity and the presence of fungus (molds) and their toxines, may cause the following health problems for human beings:

  • Respiratory tract symptoms: cough, sputum, throat and nose irritation, runny nose, sneezing, wheezing, breathing difficulty, chest pains;

  • Respiratory allergies: rhinitis, alveolitis, bronchosis, asthma, hypersensitivity pneumonia;

  • Skin allergies: skin irritation, dermatitis;

  • General toxic effects : fever, shivers, headaches, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, immune system deficiency, fatigue, hair loss.

These toxic effects are caused by various substances produced by fungus: the fungus breeding, the spores associated mycotoxins and volatile chemical substances associated or vapours detected by their characteristic mildew odor. Health risks are also related to the presence of other microorganisms who live and multiply themselves very easily in damp environments, such as bacteria as well as mites (very small animals barely visible to the naked eye, in the category of arachnids).

Both Canadian studies 2,3 therefore conclude that the exposure to humidity and molds in houses represent an important risk factor in respiratory diseases in Canada, since more than 38% of houses sampled presented some signs of dampness and molds.s

  • Tobin R.S. et al. (1987). Meaning of the presence of fungus in indoor ambiant air in buildings – Health Canada Work Group . Prepared by Health Canada Work Group on Fungus in Houses’ Ambiant Air. 78: S15-S32
  • Dales R.E., Burnett R. Zwaneneburg H. (1991). Adverse health effects among adults exposed to home dampness and molds. American review of respiratory disease. 143: 505-509
  • Dales R.E., Zwaneneburg H. (1991). Respiratory health effects of home dampness and molds among Canadian children. American journal of epidemiology 134 (2): 196-203