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The Effects of Mold on the Mental and Physical Health of Children


A poor quality indoor environment presents dismal consequences for children especially in the early years of their life. Since a child's immune system develops from birth to adolescence, they require natural stimulation from antigens and inflammatory agents in order to develop properly. Therefore, inhaling antigens and irritants present in a poor quality indoor environment may cause unusual reactions and disturbances in their development. According to Etzel and Rylander (1999), fifteen (15) scientists from eight (8) countries participated in a workshop held on Children’s Health and Indoor Mould Exposure.

They found that exposure to mold may create a health risk to children resulting in:


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  • Episodic and/or persistent upper respiratory symptoms such as rhinitis, blocked nose, sneezing, eye irritation, and hoarseness.

  • Lower respiratory tract symptoms such as dry or productive cough and wheezing.

  • An increased incidence of infections.

  • Skin symptoms such as itching and redness that can be present both in exposed areas of the body (suggesting contact dermatitis) or in areas protected by clothing (suggesting other mechanisms.)

  • Systemic symptoms such as headache, fever, excessive fatigue and joint pains.

  • Food intolerance to mold in cheese, wine, beer, and mushrooms.

  • Nose bleeding & hemoptysis which are unusual symptoms reported in high-exposure conditions and particularly in connection with the exposure of infants to certain toxigenic fungi.

According to this study there is rising evidence which shows that mould growth in damp buildings is an important risk factor for childhood respiratory illness.

In addition to respiratory problems children may also experience neurological issues due to mould exposure. Andrew W Campbell et al. (2004) reveal that exposure to toxic molds can affect the neurological condition and behavior of children. They conducted several tests showing the Neurophysiological effects of mold exposure on children. They discovered that many of the children tested had abnormal brain readings due to conditions developed from mould exposure.

Furthermore, a research article conducted by Ebere C. Anyanwu et al. (2003) shows that toxic molds affects the nervous system in children who are chronically exposed. Common neurological symptoms are:

  • Headaches

  • Fatigue

  • Sleep disturbance

  • Confusion

  • Mood swings

  • Nosebleeds

  • Cough

According to this study high levels of sensorimotor dysfunction and the related disorders in children means that toxic mold exposure should be regarded as a serious neurological health problem. The study also shows that children with toxic mold exposure develop agitation (sometimes misdiagnosed as hyperactivity) which causes them to perform poorly at school. Overall, the results indicate that children are neurophysiologically vulnerable especially those under the age of ten.


Prepared by Termin Ismael


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References


  • Anyanwu, E. C., Campbell, A. W., & Vojdani, A. (2003). Neurophysiological Effects of Chronic Indoor Environmental Toxic Mold Exposure on Children. TheScientificWorldJOURNAL, 3, 281-290. Retrieved August 29, 2018

  • Campbell, A. W., Thrasher, J. D., Gray, M. R., & Vojdani, A. (2004). Mold and Mycotoxins: Effects on the Neurological and Immune Systems in Humans. In D. Straus (Ed.), Advances in Applied Microbiology (Vol. 55, p. 396). Elsevier. Retrieved August 29, 2018

  • Etzel, R., & Rylander, R. (1999, June). Indoor Mould and Children's Health, Introduction and Summary: Workshop on Children's Health and Indoor Mould Exposure. Environmental Health Perspectives, Supplement 3, 107, 463, 465-468. Retrieved August 27, 2018

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