The Third International Conference on Bioaerosols, Fungi, and Mycotoxins in Saratoga Springs last September was an eye-opener for me. I had been told about 15 years ago by Romuald Kowalik, the Polish mycologist who published a series of papers in Restaurator from 1979 to 1984, that mold could invade and affect any part of the body, and make people deathly ill--but for the next 10 years I heard nothing about health risks from mold exposure on this side of the Atlantic. Allergies, yes, and skin rashes, but not serious illnesses.
In the last 12 years, however, there has been a lot of research on the nature and effects of mold and the toxins they produce. The Saratoga Springs conference, which was subtitled "Health Effects, Assessment, Prevention, and Control," reflected this growing interest in the biomedical aspects.
I typed up my notes afterwards and reviewed them to see how many symptoms and illnesses have been caused by mold toxins. When I added that list to the information in proceedings of the previous conference in the series, I came up with the following list.
central nervous system effects
hypersensitivity pneumonitis (extrinsic allergic alveolitis, farmers lung disease)
organic dust toxic syndrome
peripheral nervous system effects
recurring colds, decreased resistance to infection
Healthy people who have minor exposure to mold will not necessarily experience any of these conditions. The most serious cases will occur among people who are repeatedly exposed to extensive mold growths.