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 Mold Health Effects - Odors
 
     
  The musty odors produced by mold and bacteria and are referred to as volatile organic compounds.  You may have heard the term before. The EPA has guidelines for low VOC paint. Paint with high VOCs contribute to the smog in California. Molds produce chemicals similar to the chemicals found in paint. They are normal metabolic by-products of mold growth. Two of the most common chemicals produced by mold are acetone and isopropanol4 which are also found nail polish, alcohols, and cleaning supplies. Furan and butanol compounds are also produced by mold growth5. These are irritants and toxic to the nervous system. They affect the central nervous system producing symptoms such as headache, attention deficit, inability to concentrate, dizziness, respiratory problems, allergies and asthma. Some are carcinogenic.  
     
  New research suggests that Napoleon died of poisoning from gas produced by mold6. Testing of his hair indicates high levels of arsenic that are thought to be due to a species of mold in his home. His bedroom had curtains with arsenic in the green dyes. In the damp climate mold growth was common. A particular species of mold, found on these materials, produce arsenic gas when it consumes arsenic containing materials.  
     
  When testing for mold it is not uncommon for the results to indicate that there are no mold spores in the air even though an odor is present. The mold may be hidden in a wall and spores may not be in the air at the time of testing. Or the odor may be from other microbes such as bacteria. Examples of this are bad breath and body odor. How dangerous is that? From a health perspective who knows. There hasnít been a lot of research done on it. Itís common sense that a strong mold odor canít be healthy. The odor from mold can be just as hazardous as the allergies or toxins associated with mold spores. It is prudent to eliminate musty odors and not consider a mold cleanup project a success until the mold spores in the air and the odor are gone.  
     
 
 
 
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