All Mold Exposures Count Toward Reaching Toxin “Body Burden”
The Toxic Load, sometimes called the Body Burden is the accumulated amount of toxins that are negatively affecting your bodily systems over time. Toxins are generally classified as solvents, chemicals, heavy metals (like mercury and lead, among others), and neurotoxins, such as the mycotoxins produced by mold. Toxins are significant stressors to many bodily systems including the endocrine system, the immune system, as well as your mental state.
Every day we are bombarded with thousands upon thousands of toxic exposures. Unfortunately, modern medicine cannot simply eliminate toxins in a body. Our bodies do have the ability to withstand some toxin exposure by metabolizing and excreting the toxins over time. However, due to the large number of toxin exposures we endure, it is necessary that we help our bodies process toxins more efficiently.
Reaching Your Toxic Load Is a Life-Changing Event
Once our body burden is reached, our body’s ability to routinely withstand foreign elements becomes severely compromised. Any sensitivities experienced at this time can overwhelm a person quickly and can be debilitating. Understanding toxins and their impact on our bodies is essential to avoid reaching our Toxic Load or Body Burden. Sensitive individuals must take proactive measures to strengthen and enable the immune system and metabolism while avoiding additional toxin exposures. Detoxification requires time, well-functioning organ systems, and a proper diet complemented with any required nutritional supplements.
Behavior modifications are also required to speed up the process. As important, it requires any location contaminated with mold to fix the moisture problem, remediate or abandon the place altogether. It is not uncommon for environmental illness physicians to recommend a patient “move out of their home and take nothing with them.” This may seem extreme, but you must think of mold as you would lice. When it is systemic in a home, it gets everywhere and requires a systemic approach to remove all of it. Otherwise, the expensive remediation efforts will all be for not.
Toxins come from many sources in our industrialized world. There are 80,000 chemicals known to the EPA and just a fraction of them have been studied to know their toxic effects. Regardless, known and unconfirmed toxins are utilized in the production processes for building materials, paints and finishes, flame retardants, household cleaners, personal products, air fresheners, candles, and even medicines and food products. Pesticides, preservatives, chemical cleaners, and pollutants can contaminate the foods we eat and the water we drink, cook in, and bathe in.
Our bodies are resilient and equipped to metabolize many toxins. However, we can only tolerate a fixed amount of toxins within our bodies. After the Toxic Load is met, our bodies will become very sensitive to many allergens, and chemicals. In addition, electromagnetic frequencies that emit from household electronics, WiFi, and cellphones can cause severe symptoms.
An Important Example: Formaldehyde
For example, formaldehyde is probably the most commonly used toxin we are exposed to in today’s environment. Formaldehyde is a simple chemical compound made of hydrogen, oxygen, and carbon. It breaks down quickly in the body. It is utilized as a basic ingredient in construction goods, home furnishings, automobile manufacturing, textiles, and some health care and personal products in very minute quantities.
The chemical industry suggests it is safe because every living organism produces formaldehyde. While it remains an essential component in manufacturing and finished goods, safety limits have been established and formaldehyde is regulated in US manufacturing. It is not regulated in products produced outside the US.
The chemical industry lobby puts out “chemical safety facts” that minimize the toxic exposure to formaldehyde. However, EPA, FDA, OSHA, HUD, and CPSC all recognize formaldehyde as toxic and a carcinogen. This fact becomes very important for people once they reach their Toxic Load because formaldehyde is everywhere and sensitive people will have to incorporate safety standards for anything they are regularly exposed to in their home: construction, building materials, furnishings, textiles, cleaning, and personal health products in their lives.
Reaching the Toxic Load can be debilitating to individuals. Being ultra-sensitive, physical symptoms can appear out of nowhere. Severe illness can result due to many of our bodily organ systems being taken to task. Central nervous system side effects can be particularly troublesome. Chronic fatigue, pain, headaches, brain fog, memory loss, and motor function problems are just a few of the symptoms experienced when the brain is exposed to foreign allergens, pathogens, and toxins.
Immune system dysfunction can cause inflammation, including the onset of autoimmune disease, sinusitis, or respiratory disease. Hormonal dysfunction can also develop and negatively impact mood and wellness including fertility issues.
A patient can also experience PTSD from mold sickness. Following a traumatic episode of illness, when the body believes that it senses toxic elements, it may react automatically, even when just a whiff of a toxin is sensed. To explain this phenomenon, we only have to look to our noses to see it work. Our noses are an order of magnitude more sensitive than all of our other senses. This is due to the rich vascular system and its proximity to the brain. In spite of the relative inaccessibility of the olfactory receptor cells, odor stimuli can be detected at extremely low concentrations. This means that your nose and brain can register and react to an odor prior to the brain determining the source of the odor.
The olfactory nerve is responsible for the sense of smell. The nasociliary and nasopalatine nerves provide general sensation. Olfaction is said to be 10,000 times more sensitive than taste.
Mold is ubiquitous in our world. There are an estimated 100-300,000 known species of mold on earth. A subset of these molds, excrete chemical or gaseous secondary metabolites called mycotoxins. These tiny chemicals and their fragments can attach to dust and become airborne.
There are currently between 300 and 400 known mycotoxins. However, there are many, many mycotoxins yet to be isolated and identified. Mycotoxins are chemicals and as such, they can be degraded or reacted with other particulates to create different compounds that may be equally toxic but potentially unidentifiable. Mycotoxins can impact nearly all organ systems. As important, they are also potent neurotoxins and can severely impact brain function. In fact, today, approximately 30 mycotoxins can be identified by commercial testing.
Unfortunately, urine test confirmation of the toxin provides little to no useful information that impacts treatment. A mycotoxin diagnosis must be assumed to be the result of a toxic mold exposure. A full detoxification process must be initiated under the care of a physician to monitor the toxin removal. Toxins are stored in fat and tissues. Releasing too many toxins into the system to metabolize may harm specific organ systems.
Not all mold species or mycotoxins are entirely bad. Fungi play an important part in the earth’s ecosystem as well as our microbiome. It is mold that causes the natural decay of organic material. This waste often provides nutrition to other life. Some fungi can be eaten (mushrooms, truffles, cheeses). Good fungi or yeasts maintain a balance of bacteria in our guts. Fungi fermentation is an essential component to the manufacture of lifesaving pharmaceuticals and biological “protein” therapeutics such as recombinant human insulin and human growth hormone.
Some antibiotics are in fact mycotoxins produced by molds that kill bacteria. Penicillin from penicillium mold is the most noteworthy example as it and other future generations of this medicine revolutionized medicine back in the 19th century. Alcohol itself is a mycotoxin as it is fermented by yeasts that are voluntarily ingested.
Our Bodies and Toxins
Our bodies have the ability to metabolize and excrete foreign pathogens and toxins. When exposed to toxins, our livers and kidneys are somewhat effective in metabolizing them and removing them via the digestive systems. Perspiration also eliminates toxins from our bodies. However, if the amount of toxins exceeds the body’s ability to rid itself of them, they become stored in fat and tissues (bioaccumulation). This is particularly important for any of us who carry some excess fat.
When we lose weight or burn excess fat, stored toxins can be released into our bodies where they will continue to be circulated, reabsorbed, metabolized, and excreted. In the event toxins reach organs, even the brain by penetrating the blood-brain barrier, devastating disorders, including neurological and cognitive problems can result.
The liver, kidney, colon, lungs, skin, and lymph system all play essential roles in the detox process. Here is the segregated role of detoxification of different organs of the human body.
Our Toxic Load or Body Burden
Consider a bucket being filled with water. Once it is full, water spills over the side and can go anywhere. The body’s ability to metabolize toxins operates in a similar fashion. When a person is exposed to toxins from a variety of sources over time, their bucket slowly fills.
For most people, it will never fill in their lifetimes unless there is a catastrophic environmental exposure. Whatever accumulates in your “bucket” composes your Body Burden or Toxic Load. Since our bodies can only metabolize a fixed amount of toxins over our lifetimes, our toxic load can be reached slowly over time or rapidly, all at once, by a significant exposure to any toxin. This can also vary between individuals. It can depend on an individual person’s life choices, workplace, geography, circumstances, medical and family history, and body composition. The bucket fills until it cannot remove additional toxins.
Ultra-sensitivity to almost all foreign substances can become debilitating or harmful for the remainder of a patient’s life.
The body’s ability to metabolize toxins operates similar to a bucket overflowing once it’s filled with water. Toxic exposure over time fills your “bucket.”
Not everyone is exposed to significant hazardous toxins in their daily lives. Those who are exposed at work are often trained to take necessary safety precautions, and workplace environments are regulated to manage the risk. On rare occasions, when a worker may be exposed to a specific hazard, medical treatment and protocols are usually predetermined and followed. However, there have been industries throughout history where workers have been exposed to toxic elements daily and science did not reveal the issue for decades.
Asbestos used in construction and lead in paint are two clear examples. Many older buildings today still have asbestos in ceilings and lead pipes. Currently, formaldehyde is used in numerous manufacturing processes. The EPA has recently designated formaldehyde as a carcinogen and there are regulations for manufacturing or using it. However, foreign made materials still enter the US market at cheaper prices, often contaminated with formaldehyde, a known toxin, and carcinogen.
Water Damaged Homes
One significant blind spot related to our health is water damage in our homes. This can be from flooding, leaks, or excessive moisture when combined with regular building materials. Almost all homes use Drywall to construct home interior walls, regardless of the price of the home. Drywall is composed of paper and gypsum, and it absorbs and retains moisture.
Common mycotoxin-producing molds, Penicillium, Aspergillus, Chaetomium, and Stachybotrys prosper when water meets paper and gypsum-based drywall. When a home becomes water damaged, significant levels of toxins can be produced in drywall. If the drywall is not dried or treated within 48 hours, mold may grow exponentially while producing mycotoxins. The mycotoxin-coated mold spores and fragments can be released during any demolition or construction activities. Water damage in homes can be responsible for a single significant exposure event or slow exposure over time contributing to our Toxic Load.
All home environments we live in contain some molds and pollutants that we will likely inhale and absorb in some manner over time. The air we breathe outdoors is also polluted. Our tap water often contains chlorine, fluoride, and occasionally heavy metals from local water treatment facilities or is delivered via the plumbing system. There are some heavy metals that are essential nutrients (typically iron, cobalt, and zinc). Others, such as arsenic, cadmium, mercury, and lead, are highly poisonous.
Pesticides are regularly used in landscaping and farming. New construction is built with materials that are treated with flame retardants, adhesives, and other processes that involve toxic chemicals. Paints often have Volatile Organic Compounds (“VOCs”). Home furnishings, paints, and carpets will often off-gas chemicals for a period of time. All these exposures add to the toxic burden we prefer to avoid reaching in our lifetimes. Unfortunately, many people can become mold and chemical sensitive due to exposure, especially if they possess a genetic disposition that makes immune systems unable to identify and eliminate mold. Read The Toxic Mold Journey Part 1 of 4.
The critical message here is that once you reach your toxic burden, your body will become ultra-sensitive to countless environmental elements. Multiple Chemical Sensitivity (“MCS”) can make almost any chemical toxic to someone who has reached their Body Burden or Toxic Load. After your bucket is full, virtually any regular household and personal products can become extremely toxic, even in minuscule amounts. Regular household cleaning products, fabric softeners, air fresheners, of perfumes can cause reactions.
Chemically sensitive people have told me that they can enter a room and they know instantly that they are being exposed. People can react to fragrances, perfumes, musty smells, cleaning products, fresh laundry, etc. Our noses and olfactory senses can register toxic elements well before our brains process and understand the threat.
Why is Mold Exposure Critical to the “Toxic Load” Discussion”?
Mold is everywhere. It is ubiquitous inside and outside. No one can claim any that any place on earth is mold free. In fact, NASA delayed rocket launches due to the identification of mold contaminants on board in preparation for space travel. Mold only needs moisture and organic material to reproduce. Any combination of leaks, spills, storms, or humidity combined with any organic building material can grow mold.
Mold, albeit an allergen, antigen, or pathogen, also triggers an immune response which is different than the histamine response produced by most allergens. In an allergic response, antihistamines and steroids may be prescribed and are effective. However, mold-triggered immune responses can cause inflammation throughout the body leading to severe symptoms.
Mold infestations in homes can be common and multifaceted. Mold spores and their toxins can be systemically distributed via the ventilation system of a home. Large concentrations of mold can travel from crawlspaces, basements, attics, or other unfinished portions of homes. Millions of mold spores can be released into the air if disturbed during remodeling demolition. Molds can also make a home inside our bodies where they continue to reproduce.
This represents countless millions of spores. Molds and their mycotoxins can be inhaled into our sinus tissues where they are microns away from our brains.
Any time you can see mold or smell it, mold levels are surely at dangerous levels. If there is a minor infestation (described as less than 3’ x 3’ area according to EPA), a competent DIY person can handle it after looking up remediation strategies and taking safety precautions. Easily obtainable items like N95 face masks, gloves, and other safety equipment are available at hardware stores. DIYers can follow clear directions in articles or videos online to remediate the mold themselves.
Larger infestations that penetrate walls, or severely water-damaged homes, are potential health hazards. Given that these hazards can result in a lifetime illness, large problems should be remediated by a professional with proper containment to avoid spreading the mold to other portions of the home, especially the HVAC system.
Suggested PPE and safety equipment for remediation.
Also, unfinished basements or crawlspaces can be damp and dusty leading to overwhelming amounts of mold. Simple building physics demonstrate that the mold will make its way into the remainder of the home. DIY removal on such a large project can place you in a severe health risk situation. Any disruption to the mold during cleaning will release millions of spores and toxins into the air. If this occurs, the mold can then be distributed throughout the home via stacking effect and through the HVAC system. Simply living in such environments can lead someone to reach their toxic load quickly, causing them to have to deal with a lifetime of debilitating sensitivities when exposed to minimal amounts of mold or chemicals thereafter.
Where to Start
I recommend that in cases where someone believes or knows that they have a mold problem, they should address the mold count systemically if they can do it safely. Chemical sanitizers can cause irritations. When you are living in a home with mold, regardless of where it is located, there are things you can do to limit the toxic burden on your body. I recommend these products that are made with the original, precise botanical blend of citrus seed extracts manufactured, distributed, and sold by CitriSafe for over 20 years.
I have had several opportunities to speak with Walter Hayhurst, the company founder and formulator of CitriSafe’s proprietary blend. He provided me with thorough and credible responses to the many questions I have had. The story almost always returns to his story and eureka moments in the discovery of CitriSafe’s products. You can learn more about Walter’s Journey HERE.
- Hot or dry fogging your home, basement, crawlspace, or attic with one of the HavenFog Kits will help reduce the systemic mold count to close to zero allowing time to have professionals make repairs.
- The HavenMist Kit will help reduce mold spore levels as well. It is more time efficient and easy to use for treatment and maintenance.
- Burning Remedy Air Maintenance Candles in your immediate environment will help eliminate mold from the air in the areas you relax or work in.
None of these suggestions are sole solutions. Each of them will reduce the mold count in a general area of your home, and reach hard to reach places where mold can accumulate. Mold takes a while to get a footing and reproduce to the significant levels where it can be released into the air. The Haven solutions can provide symptom relief while you are identifying and planning a mold remediation by a professional.
Next Time on the Toxic Mold Journey
In the next article we will specifically address the impact of mold and mycotoxins when they reach the brain. In these cases, the body relies on a different system to detoxify.