Discover how mold can lead to neurologic impairments, including memory deficits and heightened anxiety. A study conducted by scientists from the City University of New York sheds light on the impact of mold spores on brain health. Unveiling intriguing results, the research emphasizes the need for mold remediation to protect against potential cognitive and behavioral dysfunction.
Make sure that you know the neurologic consequences of mold and learn proactive measures to safeguard your health and your family's health.
The Infectious Disease Society of America (IDSA) defines brain inflammation, also known as encephalitis, as the swelling resulting from damage to the brain that leads to neurologic impairment.
Infectious organisms and non-infectious conditions can cause brain inflammation. While viruses are the most common infectious organisms that cause brain inflammation, fungi, bacteria, and parasites can also cause this condition. Non-infectious causes of brain inflammation are typically associated with immune system disorders.
Mold is a type of fungus widely known to cause various health issues in people who are exposed to it. In the past two decades, several studies have shown that mold exposure may affect neurological health and involve brain inflammation. The studies revealed that brain inflammation resulting from exposure to mold leads to similar brain impairments as physical brain injuries.
The medical guidelines for encephalitis highlight the risks associated with brain inflammation caused by mold. The guidelines recommend that individuals suspected of having brain inflammation should undergo testing to determine if the cause is viral or fungal.
Brain inflammation can lead to neurological symptoms that involve difficulties with thinking, behavior, and sensory function. The most common neurological symptoms include headaches, fever, and alterations in personality.
In extreme cases, without proper treatment, brain inflammation can result in permanent brain damage and be fatal.
To date, there is some conflicting evidence on the neurologic consequences of mold. The following sections will dive into a captivating research study to clarify the mold spores' impact on brain health. In 2020, scientists from the City University of New York (CUNY) conducted this study. They published their work in the journal Brain, Behavior, and Immunity (Volume 87, July 2020, Pages 218-228).
This study assessed the effects of mold on the immune system. The scientists specifically wanted to see if mold would cause any neurologic, cognitive, emotional, or behavioral impacts.
The researchers recruited a cohort of mice to study the effects of mold. Their methods were approved by academic standards and passed local and federal guidelines for the appropriate use of animals in research.
The researchers employed numerous function tests to see how the mice would behave after mold exposure. They even examined the mice's brain tissue to study the effect of mold spores on brain cells.
The mice used in the study lived in filtered, individual units with bedding, piping, and controlled lighting and temperature. The mice acclimated to their new environment for at least 2 weeks before the experiments began. During the study, the researchers replaced the mice's bedding 2 times per week.
Overall the researchers tested 122 mice for the study. All the mice were male. Fifty-six mice were 6 weeks old, and 66 were 13 weeks old. In addition to neurologic and behavioral tests, the researchers exposed the mice to different levels and types of mold. The mice were split up into different groups to receive 1 of the following:
The spores used in the study were from a mold called Stachybotrys chartarum. The mice that received salt water were the control group. This group received a harmless exposure to show a typical response compared to the mice exposed to mold spores.
The 3 different exposures (toxic spores, non-toxic spores, or salt water), were instilled directly into each mouse's nose 3 times per week. After a few weeks of exposure, the mice underwent various biological and behavioral tests.
The younger, 6-week-old mice were tested on their memory and brain cells. The older mice underwent memory, anxiety, and pain tests. The researchers also studied inflammatory markers and brain cells in older mice.
The researchers conducted several industry-standard analyses to produce results that are valid and can be trusted. Before placing the mice into groups, the researchers conducted tests to ensure that any relevant differences between the groups of mice, such as the level of mold exposure and training for memory tests, did not influence the analysis results. Once the mice were in their respective groups, the data collected were analyzed using a statistical method that allowed the researchers to determine whether the differences in the mice's biological and behavioral tests were real or just due to chance.
The study revealed several noteworthy findings. Compared to mice that received plain salt water, younger mice exposed to both toxic and non-toxic spores showed significant memory impairments. Some tests also showed that toxic spores dramatically reduced young nerve cells in the brain. However, exposure to mold spores did not affect microglia, special immune cells in the brain.
Interestingly, exposure to non-toxic mold increased anxiety-like behavior in older mice. Scientists discovered this by placing the older mice in a maze. Mice that entered open spaces were considered more confident and less nervous. On the other hand, mice that opted for walled-in areas of the maze were deemed more anxious.
Additionally, older mice that were exposed to toxic and non-toxic spores exhibited drastically lower pain thresholds than mice that received salt water. The specific pain test that the researchers used is called a tail-flick assay. In this test, a beam of light is directed to the mouse's tail, which triggers a pain reflex.
The researchers also showed that older mice exposed to toxic mold spores had higher levels of inflammatory markers than those in the control group. Interestingly, the elevated inflammatory marker correlated with enhanced auditory memory.
Overall, this study added unique value to what is already known about mold and neurologic effects. The research suggests mold spores may lead to memory deficits in younger mice. Mold spores can also lower pain thresholds and increase anxiety-like behavior in older mice.
While these results may seem alarming, it is essential to note that the mold spores were administered directly into each mouse's nose in this study. This invasive type of exposure usually will not happen in everyday life for humans.
Nonetheless, prolonged mold exposure may increase the risk of cognitive, behavioral, and sensory dysfunction. Mold spores may impact on the parts of the brain that allow for regular, daily function.
Treatment for encephalitis should start immediately after diagnosis because the disease can quickly progress and cause irreversible neurologic impairment. For certain types of fungi, the Infectious Disease Society of America recommends different antifungals to treat encephalitis. These medications may be administered intravenously, which can require hospitalization.
Encephalitis is a severe disease, and medical professionals may first investigate common causes, such as viral exposure, tick and mosquito bites, or bacterial infection. However, if the cause is fungal, it may be beneficial to investigate potential sources of mold. Mold remediation services can help maintain a clean and health-friendly environment in one's home.
The CDC has a few helpful tips on preventing mold in the home:
Because mold can harm one's health, the CDC recommends removing any mold present.
If there is mold in your home, rely on the knowledge and skills of a mold removal specialist to safeguard your well-being against toxic exposures. The EPA suggests special removal techniques for large areas of mold growth. The utilization of mold specialists can help preserve the integrity of your home and furniture.
At FDP Mold Remediation, our team is highly trained and IICRC certified. We offer a timely, budget-friendly service with special structural drying, water restoration, and anti- microbial specialists. We guarantee the restoration of your home, with your health in mind.
Don't let mold grow unchecked in your home. The consequences of mold growth may pose a threat to the health of you and your family. Exposure to fungi can lead to many health problems, including mold-related illnesses. If you see mold in your home, call FDP Mold Remediation today at 877-421-2614.