Mold expert, Keith Berndtson, MD shares tips about treating and preventing mold toxicity.
View Show Notes
Dr. Keith Berndtson: Now there’s a great need to do it. People often want to know how I got into this. And back in 2007 when I opened this practice, a patient walked in with this book called “Mold Warriors” by some guy named Ritchie Shoemaker. And you know, I finally got around opening it and reading a little bit, and began to feel like I was drinking from a fire hose because there’s so much information in it—a lot of path of physiology, but also getting into the patients’ stories and legal ramifications; and implications for agricultural practice, construction practice; remediation, inspection, and cleaning; and all that kind of stuff. So I wondered what I got myself into, but I’ve then subscribed to the newsletter from Surviving Mold, his website, which now gets about 3 million hits a month, and built up my confidence to start taking these patients on. Even at that point, I was kind of at the lower end of the learning curve. But what’s important to understand here is that this is not just about mold toxicity. Back in 1973, when there was a OPEC Embargo and there were long gasoline station lines and so forth, there was a premium on conserving energy, and so builders decided they would step up and they would start building homes that were pretty tightly sealed that you could trap heat and save money during the winter and all that.
Mike Mutzel: Sure.
Dr. Keith Berndtson: But creating conditions were moisture had nowhere to go. The buildings weren’t breathing the way they used to, and so we started to have more of what’s called “sick buildings syndrome,” which in the beginning wasn’t very well understood and kind of got laughed at the room and a lot of grand rounds and that sort of thing. But now we know much more that under certain recurrent moisture conditions or after water intrusion events¬—roofs leak, leaks under sinks, flooding of course, flooded basements—that molds can get a leg up. And all molds need to grow is moisture and cellulose; dust contains cellulose, so they pretty much have growing conditions almost anywhere where there’s been enough moisture. So it’s very important to discover these intrusions and remediate them quickly because within 48 hours, you’ve got mold growing. And not all molds are toxin producers, either; but the ones that are have genes that code for toxins that they use to defend themselves when they pick up stress signals, and that could be running into manmade chemicals in the dry wall or whatever. They make spores that carry toxins. When things dry up, the spores go dormant; but when the moisture returns, they become active, they could be spitting out toxins. And heavily water-damaged buildings, it’s not just mold toxins, there are other inflammogens—microbial, volatile organic compounds, manmade volatile organic compounds—they all enter the mix; there are fungal fragments, bacterial fragments. So anybody can get pretty sick in a building like that. But in what’s commonly referred to as “mold toxicity syndrome,” about one in four people carry these HLA genes; HLA means it’s on chromosome 6, and it has to do with the part of the immune system that presents antigens from one cell to another, processes those antigens first, and begins this process where you can acquire a coordinated cellular and antibody response against something like this should you come across it again.