Study does not confirm “toxic mold syndrome” in patients
Mold and dampness can cause coughing and wheezing. However, is there evidence to support the existence of what has been called “toxic mold syndrome” or illnesses caused specifically by exposure to mold? According to a report by researchers at the Oregon Health Sciences University published in the September issue of the Annals of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology such evidence is lacking.
In their study Dr. Barzin Khalili and Dr. Emil Bardana, Jr. describe the clinical characteristics of 50 patients with complaints of illness they attributed to mold exposure in the home or workplace. The authors found that there was no consistent set of symptoms with patients having an average of more than eight symptoms. Most patients reported a family or personal history of allergy or asthma. Three quarters of the patients had abnormal physical examination results with inflammation of the eye or skin and congestion being the most common. Thirty patients had other non-related illnesses that could explain most, if not all, of their mold related complaints and nearly two thirds of the patients had a previously diagnosed mood disorder.
“In fact,” the investigators write, “when the entire history and objective evidence were scrutinized, a number of well-established and plausible diagnoses emerged that explained many, if not all, the complaints.” This seems to be contrary to the general public’s perception. However, the authors point out that these findings are consistent with other critical reviews that have failed to find scientific support for toxic effects from breathing in mold spores as a viable cause of human disease.