The original publication about pulmonary hemorrhage fueled concerns and speculation about the health effects of Stachybotrys chartarum or “black mold“. “Black mold” is indeed unsightly, but has not been identified as a cause of human illness.
“Toxic mold syndrome” is a legal construct, rather than a medical diagnosis, involving unidentified disease processes, a constellation of disparate symptoms, and reports of illness uncorroborated by a physical examination of the patients or a professional examination of their surroundings. Although “black mold” or “toxic mold” has been identified in litigation as a cause of human illness, there is no established cluster of symptoms or physical findings associated with this alleged disease. There are neither diagnostic criteria nor any valid scientific publications establishing Stachybotrys or other molds as a cause of these diverse symptoms.
There are many practitioners who advertise themselves on web sites as experts in “treating” victims of “toxic mold disease”, an entity which does not exist. For large sums of money, they will advise on numerous supplements and restrictive diets to “extract” mold from people. Since mold is not retained within human organs, it is pointless to spend money on such processes.
“Sick Building Syndrome”
The Environmental Protection Agency defines “sick building syndrome” as “situations in which building occupants experience acute health and comfort effects that appear to be linked to time spent in a building, but no specific illness or cause can be identified”. Those effects might include headache, fatigue, and irritation of skin, eyes, or throat, among others. Most often, these symptoms are linked to indoor air quality problems when a building is insufficiently ventilated or maintained.
It is possible for mold to be an indoor air contaminant, for example in heating ducts or other areas where moisture can accumulate and stagnate. Any number of other contaminants may be responsible for symptoms, though; a lengthy list ranges from bacteria, to body odors, plumbing exhaust, copy machine fumes, cleaning agents, pesticides, bird droppings, carpeting, and furniture.