8 November 2007
Damp Moldy Conditions Got You Down?
You may notice mold in your home by its musty smell or those unsightly spreading blotches on shower curtains, ceilings or walls. What you might not associate with mold is an emotional problem. But an article in the October issue of American Journal of Public Health makes that connection. It reports on a study that has found a link between mold in the home and an increased incidence of depression.
This association between mold and mood disorder was found by questioning six thousand adults from Germany, Italy, Switzerland and five other countries. They were asked about health and living conditions. Then their homes were visually assessed for prevalence of mold. Even when issues typically associated with depression such as overcrowding and unemployment were factored in, researchers still found more depression among those who lived in moldy homes.
In fact, the study found that among those who lived in moldy surroundings the risk for depression went up approximately 40 percent.
Lead study author Edmond D. Shenassa of Brown University School of Medicine in Rhode Island indicates that it isn’t clear whether the moldy conditions led to the development of depression, or whether people who are already depressed are less likely to combat mold in the home. He’s ready to do more work to pinpoint cause and effect.
Molds are fungi found everywhere as a natural part of the environment. To grow, mold requires water. When a home has excessive moisture these fungi can reproduce rapidly, producing millions of microscopic spores that can become airborne and cause allergies and other health problems. Vulnerable individuals, such as people with preexisting illnesses, are particularly at risk.
A study published in the September issue of The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology reports that a dilute household bleach solution (1:16 bleach to water) effectively kills common mold. Researchers at the National Jewish Medical and Research Center say that dead mold can still precipitate allergic reactions, but they found the bleach solution neutralizes the mold allergens that caused reactions in their test subjects.